On November 8, the University of Southern Indiana hosted an opening and dedication ceremony for Brock Babb Post No. 324, a new American Legion post that is temporarily located in USI’s Veteran Support Services Office on the lower level of the Education Center. Named after Sergeant Brock A. Babb, an Evansville Marine who died in Iraq in 2006, the post is the second American Legion to be housed on a university campus in the state of Indiana. The first was at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis in 2012.
Pete Snowden, a 37-year-old USI engineering major and former Navy air traffic controller, was approached by Ron Byrley, American Legion District 8 commander, and Buckey Honaker, American Legion District 8 vice commander, to launch the new post. Snowden is serving as the post’s first commander.
"The American Legion was founded in 1919," said Snowden. "Most of the guys that are in a legion are older gentlemen, we call them the Old Guard. We need to bring in the New Guard, a younger generation who can take over and keep the legion going. Otherwise, the legion will fall apart."
When deciding on an individual to name the new post after, Snowden stated that the search began by researching fallen soldiers from Evansville who served in the Iraq or Afghanistan war. It was important to name the new post after someone from the new generation.
"We came across Sergeant Brock Babb," said Snowden. "He wasn’t the first Marine to fall in the Iraq War, but he did receive the Silver Star and many other awards."
A husband and father, Babb also was engaged in the community. He was a volunteer, a soccer and wrestling coach, and was involved with his church.
Babb served in the first Iraq war. Then, at the age of 40, he reenlisted and returned to Iraq with his team of Marines. Two weeks into his tour, Babb was traveling in an armored Humvee in the Anbar Province of Iraq with four other Marines. They encountered a roadside bomb that exploded and killed Babb and another Marine from Terre Haute, Indiana.
"He didn't have to go back overseas, he could have retired," said Snowden. "He went back because his team was going and he wanted to keep them safe."
The post is number 324 because Babb was in the Third Battalion, 24th Marines. During the dedication of the new post, Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke declared November 8 as "Brock Babb American Legion Post 324 Day" in Evansville.
Goals of the new post are to give support to student veterans in the Evansville community. For instance, the post can help individuals who are having issues with the G.I. Bill or who have a disability issue and are trying to get their case in front of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
"The American Legion is chartered by Congress and is a legal entity," said Snowden. "We can propose bills and laws to Congress so we can take veteran issues all the way to the top. When things come up and can't be handled by USI's Veteran Support Services Office, the legion can step in and take issues up as high as they need to go."
USI currently has more than 245 registered veterans on campus and the new post has more than 25 chartered members. Snowden is working with representatives from the University of Evansville and Ivy Tech Community College to grow membership. Once that is accomplished, and enough funds are raised, the post will move off campus to a location on the west side of Evansville.
"We would like to get our post off campus because that's when you can really start to do good for the community," said Snowden. "Right now we are focusing on college students because they are the up and comers. They are the ones that are lacking in the American Legion."
Brock Babb Post No. 324 is open to veterans from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more information, or to learn how to become a member of the new post, contact Snowden at 812-461-5302 or firstname.lastname@example.org.