The Last Squad Club

Shortly after the war ended in 1946 there was a big crowd of returning veterans who came home to Brighton, Colorado as victorious heroes.

Brighton was a small town, maybe 3000 people, in a wonderful farm community about 20 miles north of Denver.

It was blessed to have a strong American Legion Chapter composed of WWI vets.

They were the uncles, dads and employers of the returning WWII vets and were actively recruiting all of the returning vets and we of course enjoyed swapping stories of where we had been and what we had done .

The WWI vets has a club called the last squad club. They met on Armistice day every year and hired a caterer for a T-bone steak dinner.  At the dinner they would have a short program but it was a powerful format.

The president would call to order.

The color guard would march in with the colors.

We had two flags, US and Colo.  There were two armed guards with military rifles.

The sergeant at arms would march the detail around and then plant the colors.

Then he would call the assembly to attention and we would recite the pledge of allegiance.

Then the president would ask the chaplain to pray for the blessing on the meeting.

Then we would enjoy a super good meal.

After the meal the president would call the meeting to order.  Call the role.

Then the secretary would read the minutes of last year’s meeting.

The treasurer would give a report of our finances which then would be followed by the collection of the dues which paid for the dinner for next year, plus any other expenses like flowers for the widows of the fallen comrades, expenses of sending out reminder cards to all the members and any other incidental expenses. We always gave the catering crew a generous tip and the same lady was always thrilled to provide a really first class meal.  She fed us for more than 40 years.  We always had a balance of more than we would need for the next year.

Then we would have a report of the members who had joined the chapter eternal.

The chaplain would read the short obituary of the departed members and then would crumple the records and throw them into an old German war helmet.

Then the president would call the group to attention and we would drink a toast to the departed.

Then the lights would be turned out and the chaplain had a very dignified speech and the records would be burned to transfer the membership to the chapter eternal.

While the lights were out and the bugler played taps we stood at attention with a right hand salute.

At the end of taps the lights would come on and the president would say, “stand at ease,” and we would drink a toast to the living.  Then we would be dismissed to an informal visiting time and then some would play poker or just visit and finally wander back home.

We finally had about 150 members.  We seldom had more than 50 in attendance.

We changed the name from the last man’s club to the last squad club and changed the date of the annual meeting to Dec 7.

We had simple rules.  Election of officers was a part of the annual meeting.  You could only hold office for one year so nobody got trapped into a long service time but there were enough officers so that they could have planning meetings or whatever was necessary to keep well organized and the format was such an inspiration that more and more members became regular in attendance

We bought two bottles of expensive whiskey.  The brand at that time was called Heaven Hill and every year the vice president was in charge of keeping the bottles.

On the 50th year we had maybe 25 in attendance and we decided to open and drink one of the bottles. We also had developed a nice blue medal that we could wear to indicate 50 years of service to the last squad club. It is the blue medal on my uniform jacket pocket.

At the 60 year meeting there were only 4 left in attendance and I could not get to Brighton so that may be the last formal meeting. The formal opening of the last bottle was a bit complicated. The cork disintegrated when the corkscrew was inserted so the whiskey had to be filtered through a cheese cloth.

They told me it was very good whiskey.

I did get the German war Helmet back because I was the donor.  I gave the helmet to my son David and it is on his desk in his office.

This is a source of fond memories.   Bob Scottdrbob2_100.jpg

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