Chester P. Tuttle Post 279 marking a 100th anniversary
Tom O’Rourke and Happy Erickson are co-chairs of the Chester P. Tuttlle Post 279 American Legion’s 100th anniversary festivities, which will take place on June 4th.
By ROD LEE
Memorial Day 2023 and the week or so beyond that occasion will be extra special for members of the Chester P. Tuttle Post 279 American Legion in Auburn this year, as the facility celebrates its 100th anniversary.
Tom O’Rourke who is sergeant-at-arms and also incoming commander of the Post, and Happy Erickson, who sits on the E-Board, are co-chairs for the festivities, which will be observed on Sunday, June 4th starting with a social hour from noon to 1:00 p.m.
Past Commander Rich Larson will serve as master of ceremonies for the event. Remarks will be offered by Mr. O’Rourke and Sally Nay, who is deputy commander. A meal and entertainment will follow.
The program booklet produced for the anniversary celebration includes a sketch of Phyllis Gallant, Pharmacist 3rd Class in the U.S. Navy upon her discharge in 1946. Now 102 years old, Ms. Gallant joined Post 279 and served as assistant chaplain and held the title of chaplain or assistant chaplain for fifty-four years. She has been presented with the Boston Post Cane as the town’s oldest resident, and the Riley Award for community service. She is well remembered for the many years she spun tickets for the Post’s meat raffle, and is still a welcome sight at the Post, at the bar “having a beer with the guys,” Mr. O’Rourke says.
“As a Post we are doing quite well,” Mr. Erickson said on May 17th. He was CPT Post 279’s chef for thirty-eight years, going back to the Post’s days operating out of an old schoolhouse on Southbridge St.
Activities that take place throughout the week include the “Dream Wheels of New England’s Tuesday Night Cruising” through October 10th. This began on May 16th, Organizer John Weston said, “and we had thirty to thirty-five cars the first night.”
Tuesday Night Cruising features antique cars and trucks, collectible late models, military vehicles, off-road race cars, motorcycles, a BBQ, an outdoor bar, special surprises, a 50/50 raffle “and more.”
Post 279 will again an active role in Auburn’s Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 29th. Parade staging will take place at 9:00 a.m. for the 1st Division, 2nd Division and 3rd Division with step-off at 10:00 a.m. This follows a service at Bethel Lutheran Church on Sunday, May 28th at 9:00 a.m.
The Memorial Day Committee includes Steven Gallant, commander, Bill MacLean, finance officer, Eric Sunden, Sr. vice commander, Tina Sunden, auxiliary historian, John Lauzon, Post commander, John Doherty from the E-Board, Millie Larson, auxiliary president, David Gallant, SAL commander and Giuelana Valera, auxiliary.
Steve Gallant is grand marshal for the parade, the Order of March for which will include the Auburn Fire Department, Auburn Middle School Band, Auburn Police Department, Auburn Explorer Scouts, Auburn Boy Scouts, Auburn Girl Scouts, Auburn Campfire Girls, Auburn Blue Birds, Auburn Brownies, Auburn Cub Scouts and McCoy Action Karate.
Remembrance exercises will also take place at Hillside Cemetery. Chester P. Tuttle was wounded in France on October 31, 1918 and died the following day. His body was brought to Auburn in 1921 for services at the First Congregational Church, of which he was a member. He interned in the Tuttle family lot in Hillside Cemetery.
A raising of the flag will take place at Post 279 at 1:00 p.m.