Hobart veteran, Legion Post 54 wants bartender fired, retribution
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com September 25, 2012 12:22AM
Earl McDowell vice commander of American Legion Post 54 in Hobart talks with commander Robert Hamady after a press conference Monday evening about an incident last Friday at the Cressmoor Country Club in Hobart where McDowell was attacked by four individuals. McDowell a Viet Nam Marine veteran was attacked trying to serve a suspension notice to a member of the Sons of the American Legion. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 26, 2012 2:25PM
As Hobart resident Earl McDowell tells it, he walked into Cressmoor Lounge on Friday night for one reason only: to serve a suspension notice to a Sons of the American Legion member.
By the time he left, he had suffered a sore back and scrapes to his arm.
McDowell, who is a vice commander at Hobart’s Post 54 said that SAL member Scott Leir had recently been trying to get American Legion Post 54 bar patrons to come to Cressmoor because it’s more fun. Legion members decided to suspend Leir’s membership until May, and McDowell was serving him with the notice around 5:30 p.m.
McDowell, who received a Purple Heart for his service with the U.S. Marines in Vietnam, said he was talking with bar manager Susan Stephens, his ex-wife, and Leir’s wife, Tami, kept interrupting. McDowell decided to leave the bar when out of nowhere he was attacked by one man who pushed him into a wall and tried to strike him. Within seconds, McDowell noticed three other people coming for him, but a man emerging from the bathroom managed to grab the first man and prevent any further injuries. As McDowell walked out the door, Tami Leir allegedly yelled disparaging remarks and a fifth person threatened “We will find out where you live.”
“That just takes it to another level,” McDowell said. “I would have just let it go, but when you threaten my family ...”
McDowell was treated for his injuries at St. Mary Medical Center.
Hobart Police Chief Dave Evans said charges will likely be filed against one person in the incident. Evans said they’ve identified the suspect, but they haven’t located him. McDowell said that he was shown a collection of eight suspect photos on Monday, but none of them matched the description of his attackers.
Post commander Robert Hamady said the post has requested that Cressmoor apologize and cover McDowell’s medical bills and fire Tami Leir or the veterans groups could boycott the bar.
Stephens said the situation is unfortunate, but she doesn’t intend to fire bartender Tami Leir simply because the Legion requests it.
“I feel sorry about the incident, but they don’t really have a right to try and run my business for me,” Stephens said. “They have a vendetta against Tami, who used to work at the Legion. I hired her and she brought over a loyal following.”
SAL member Tom Wenzel said that McDowell could have avoided the situation by mailing the suspension rather than serving it in person.
“He wanted to give it to Tami to make it personal,” Wenzel said.