Editor's note: In honor of Veterans Day -- and in tribute to the many local area men and women who have served in the military of the United States -- we are reprinting the following article by George Willey, which first appeared in The Enterprise on April 17, 1936. We thank White Salmon resident Al Strunk -- who served in the U.S. Army from 1950-1952 and is a member of the American Legion -- for preserving a copy of this historical feature.
By GEORGE WILLEY
"I would like to get a brief history of the White Salmon American Legion Post for the convention issue," I asked John Childs early this week.
He replied laconically, "Yes sir, only I can't promise hairline accuracy."
John Childs is a brother of Evan Childs, who died in France, serving his country.
"The Charter for Evan Childs Post No. 87, of White Salmon, was granted in December 1919," began John Childs.
I learned the local Post derived its name from Evan Childs, the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. F.O. Childs, of the Hood View district. It was named after Evan Childs as he was the only west-end Klickitat County son killed in action.
"He was killed in the terrible fighting of the Meuse-Argonne battle," said John, while puffing his cigarette.
Evan Childs was in the 91st Division (Wild West) 316 Engineers. He was a corporal. The Meuse-Argonne section was the most murderous fighting of the entire war for America. Near the Meuse-Argonne battle, more than 1.2 million troops were concentrated for the advance, and over 600,000 of them took part. Many have said the most hideous fighting was done there. The enemy seemed to be thick as grass with machine gun nests everywhere, mowing down Americans. Barbed wire and shell holes were a conglomeration from previous years of fighting.
Evan Childs was in this fighting 14 days before dropping before deadly German fire. He was killed by machine gun fire Sept. 30, 1918, near the little town of Exermont.
Immediately following the war, the American Legion was organized in Paris, France, and early in 1919 Legion Posts began blossoming in every town of the United States. White Salmon was one of the many communities to organize.
The local Post was started mainly through the ambitious efforts of Warren Irwin, who was elected vice commander after the Post was organized. The local organization needed at least 15 men to get its charter in 1919, and it had over 80 men to begin its very successful community service.
The first commander of Evan Childs Post No. 87 was Chester Dewey. Warren Irwin was vice commander, and John Childs was adjutant.
The Post bought the "Woodman of the World" hall in 1920 for $1,000, and it has been the Legionnaires' and Legionettes' home in White Salmon ever since that time. They have, of course, improved it considerably since purchasing it.
The Evan Childs Post of White Salmon has always been known as an energetic and community-serving organization, doing many services for its town. One of its outstanding accomplishments was building the White Salmon Valley community swimming pool, completed in 1935 with Gov. Clarence D. Martin and many outstanding Legion heads present.
In 1925, when the national organization of the American Legion started a campaign for a $2 million endowment fund for its veterans, Evan Childs Post quickly and easily raised its $250 quota for that cause.
The Auxiliary of the local Post was organized in 1920, and since then has been a strong and forceful organization alongside its earlier-formed order.
Art Lewis, one of the many good commanders of this Post, was the only one of its members to assume a district or department office. He was district vice commander when the Post was in the 6th District, which at that time included the territory to the east of White Salmon into Yakima.
In 1933, the Evan Childs Post began a campaign to strengthen its organization in Klickitat County. The members undertook the work of organizing numerous local Post units, and now practically every town of western Klickitat County has a unit to the Post, thus forming a very strong organization.
The national American Legion organization stands to foster the interests of those who were serving their country. It has many activities such as rehabilitation, child welfare, legislation, and employment, and goes out and gets results. It is a non-partisan, non-sectarian organization, numbering 930,163 members nationwide in 1932.
Since its creation here in 1919, there have been 18 commanders heading the White Salmon Post's affairs through the years up to 1936. The commanders included: Chester Dewey, Warren Irwin, Ray Moak, Arthur Lewis, Henry Anderson, John Childs, Sid Thompson, Will Claterbos, Harold Larsen, Bob Anderson, Joe Horn, Ray Moore, Pat Foley, Al Kidder, Frank Hetler, Dwight Kloster, Leonard Howard, Roy Anthon, and Oscar Gardner.
Veterans Day is on Nov. 11.