History of Olsen-McGraw-Thompson-Goins VFW 6401

In early 1984, eligible veterans from the Kansas communities of Bonner Springs and Edwardsville were called to meet at the Greeley Gas Blue Flame room in Bonner Springs to consider organizing a Veterans of Foreign Wars Post. At that time, neither city nor the surrounding communities were represented by any type of active veterans group.

Initially, the Post was identified only as Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6401 of Bonner Springs. After significant discussion, it was decided by the those electing to join as charter members that the post be formally named in honor of three deceased veterans, one each from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Thorough research of military personnel killed in the line of duty lead to the selection of individuals from Bonner Springs, Edwardsville and the surrounding area. By popular vote of the membership, the Post was officially chartered as Olsen-McGraw-Thompson VFW Post 6401 of Bonner Springs on 13 March 1984.

In early 2005, when the Post learned of the death of a local resident, James Michael Goins, action was taken by the membership to memorialize Second Lieutenant Goins, United States Army. 2LT Goins, a 1999 graduate of Bonner Springs High School, was killed in action on 15 August 2004 while serving in Iraq. With the addition of Goins, Post 6401 was officially renamed Olsen-McGraw-Thompson-Goins VFW Post 6401 of Bonner Springs.

At the time the Post was organized in 1984, there were 51 charter members, including both new members and transfers from other VFW Posts. Among those listed on the Post Charter are a father and son, the Hollenbeck's, and husband and wife, the Bracewells. The Post was well represented by veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Since 1984, membership has grown to approximately 100 veterans and has maintained a 100 % membership almost every year since. A Ladies Auxiliary was formed at a later date to compliment and support the efforts of Post 6401.

Don Craven, a veteran of Korea and Vietnam, was elected by membership to serve as the first Post Commander. Additional Post Commanders have been Irma Bracewell, Pete Gomez, Larry Hollenbeck, Jim Jenkins, Ken Mueller, Don Norman and Harry Saunders. Mrs. Bracewell is recognized as the first female elected to the position of Post Commander in the Department of Kansas. Current Post Commander, Jim Jenkins, is now serving his fourth term in that capacity. Several Post members have served, or are currently serving, as officers in the Second District, Department of Kansas as well.

For more than twenty years, officers and members of Post 6401 have completed several thousands of hours of community service work as volunteers in the cities of Bonner Springs and Edwardsville. Likewise, membership has been actively serving resident veterans at the Eisenhower VA Center in Leavenworth, Kansas, and at other locations throughout the metropolitan Kansas City area. Each year, on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, members of the Post initiate “Buddy Poppy” drives to help raise money for veterans-in-need and the Post Relief Fund which is used to support programs for veterans.

In the early 1990’s, VFW Post 6401 organized a Color Guard for parades and other activities. To supplement the Color Guard, an Honor Guard was established in 2005. Both are available as needed, especially for Memorial Day and Veterans Day services at the cemeteries of  Edwardsville and Bonner Springs. Members of the Post Color Guard and Honor Guard continue to be asked for their service in parades, funerals, and other similar functions held not only in Bonner Springs and Edwardsville, but other communities as well.

Members of VFW Post 6401 have sponsored and staffed girls’ softball teams, organized an annual “Voice of Democracy” contest in local schools, and provided “Flag Etiquette” classes when requested by schools or civic groups. VFW Post 6401 organized, promoted and continues to sponsor an annual horseshoe pitching tournament which has been continuous since 1988. The tourney has attracted players from many communities throughout Kansas and Missouri. In 1994, the Post begin operating a concession stand, staffed by members of the Post and the Ladies Auxiliary, to supplement Post funds and to provide another community service program. To commemorate the one year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on our nation, members of Post 6401 organized, coordinated and provided man-power for a memorial event at the local high school. This tribute, held during an evening football game, was presented by students and staff of the High School Marching Band. The event was dedicated to police, fire and ambulance personnel, several of whom attended, serving the communities of Bonner Springs, Edwardsville, and Tonganoxie.

In 2004, Post 6401 requested that a United States flag be flown over the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Four times during the year, members of the Post raise the flag at the Bonner Springs Cemetery to salute and honor our fallen comrades: Ensign Edward K. Olsen, United States Navy; Private Daniel E. McGraw, United States Army; PFC Robert E. Thompson, United States Army; and 2LT James Michael Goins, United States Army.

VFW Post 6401 Honoree’s

Ensign Edward Kern Olsen, United States Navy - Killed In Action: 7 December 1941, U.S.S. Arizona, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Private Daniel Edward McGraw, United States Army - Killed In Action: 3 September 1951, North Korea

PFC Robert Eugene Thompson, United States Army - Killed In Action: 4 May 1966, South Vietnam

2LT James Michael Goins, United States Army - Killed In Action: 15 August 2004, Iraq

Post 6401


Summer of 2016, Bethel VFW Post 5851 of Kansas City, KS and Olsen-McGraw-Thompson-Goins VFW 6401 of Edwardsville/Bonner Springs, KS voted to consolidate.   At the time it was voted on to retain the 6401 number and to name the new jointly formed Post the Wyandotte County Memorial Post 6401.  The new Post would continue to meet in the Community Building in South Park in Bonner Springs.  The Post now represents over two thirds of Wyandotte County.


National Awards

All-American Post 2008-2009


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