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Lebanon Vet Honored for 70 Years of Legion Service

  • Gordon Stone, 96, receives a certificate and pin honoring his 70 years of continuous membership in the American Legion from Post 22 Commander Len McMinn at Quail Hollow Senior Living Community in Lebanon, N.H., on March 29, 2014. Stone is a veteran of the Army who served during World War II. (Valley News - Will Parson)

    Gordon Stone, 96, receives a certificate and pin honoring his 70 years of continuous membership in the American Legion from Post 22 Commander Len McMinn at Quail Hollow Senior Living Community in Lebanon, N.H., on March 29, 2014. Stone is a veteran of the Army who served during World War II. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Gordon Stone, 96, is escorted to the start of a ceremony honoring his 70 years of continuous membership in the American Legion by Wayne Aldrich of Post 22 at Quail Hollow Senior Living Community in Lebanon, N.H., on March 29, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson)

    Gordon Stone, 96, is escorted to the start of a ceremony honoring his 70 years of continuous membership in the American Legion by Wayne Aldrich of Post 22 at Quail Hollow Senior Living Community in Lebanon, N.H., on March 29, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Gordon Stone, 96, receives a certificate and pin honoring his 70 years of continuous membership in the American Legion from Post 22 Commander Len McMinn at Quail Hollow Senior Living Community in Lebanon, N.H., on March 29, 2014. Stone is a veteran of the Army who served during World War II. (Valley News - Will Parson)
  • Gordon Stone, 96, is escorted to the start of a ceremony honoring his 70 years of continuous membership in the American Legion by Wayne Aldrich of Post 22 at Quail Hollow Senior Living Community in Lebanon, N.H., on March 29, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson)

Lebanon — The room at Quail Hollow was crowded Saturday morning with men sporting navy blue blazers and caps. They gathered in one corner, shaking hands and telling stories. At the center of the group was one man, in a light blue sweater and the same navy cap, who was about to receive an honor only 30 other people in the country have received in the nearly 100-year history of the American Legion.

Escorted by Guyer-Carignan Post 22 Sergeant at Arms Wayne Aldrich, Gordon Stone, 96, of Lebanon, walked to the front of the room, where a dozen of his fellow Legion members, along with guests and Quail Hollow neighbors, had gathered.

There, Stone was presented with a certificate and pin commemorating his 70 consecutive years of membership with the American Legion.

“This award right here is pretty prestigious,” said Larry Greenwood, who serves as the organization’s adjutant.

Stone is just the 30th person in the United States to achieve 70 consecutive years of membership since the veterans service organization was chartered in 1919. He has been a member of Post 22 since returning home from World War II, having served much of his time stateside and then a year in Panama.

“France and places like that, I was never there,” he said. “I was lucky. I don’t have any of those horrible war stories that people like to hear about.”

Stone was born in Barre, Vt., on June 21, 1918, and moved to the Upper Valley in 1930, when he was 12. He enlisted in the Army in 1941 and went to Officer Candidate School, where he became a second lieutenant.

Over the years, he has witnessed many moments in history. He remembers when Calvin Coolidge was president and when Prohibition ended.

“I remember they bootlegged booze on Main Street in White River,” he said. “Old Lady Fuschia’s house, you would go in and she would pour you a drink,” he recalled with a chuckle.

Stone, who has lived in Quail Hollow for the past 14 years, said the American Legion’s commitment to community is one of the many reasons he has remained a member for so long.

“They do a lot of charitable work,” he said.

Post 22 serves as a community organization and provides services, scholarships and opportunities for area young people. There is an honor guard that provides military rites for deceased veterans and speakers to local schools. The guard also participates in Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations. “When he was younger he participated in a lot of the activities” said Ike McKim, Post 22’s house committee chairman.

Stone’s dedication to community is evident in his many letters to the Valley News Forum, in which he tirelessly advocates that more respect be shown for local cemeteries, including a ban on dogs in them.

His years in the military, and the 84 years he has spent in the Upper Valley, both contribute to his continued membership in the Legion.

“A veteran joins it,” he said, “and I don’t think he ever thinks about leaving.”