DERRY — American Legion Lester W. Chase Post 9 of Derry kicked off its 90th year with the installation of officers on Saturday, Feb. 14. Installed as post commander was Nathan Fernald, and as senior vice commander was Kevin Gurley. Other officers installed were David Piper, Bruce Alger, Lenny Dane, Joe Dichiaro, Maureen Heard, Doug Crooker, Edmund Nycz, Dave Dyson and William Manning.
Maureen P. Heard was honored as Legionnaire of The Year for both her hard work and dedication as Post Service Officer, and for her efforts in developing and maintaining the Post's Web Site at www.legion9derrynh.org.
The American Legion was founded in March 1919 by veterans returning from World War I. It was formally recognized and received a national charter from the U.S. Congress in September of that year.
The very first Legion Post was chartered in May 1919 in Washington, D.C., and today there are more than 14,000 Legion Posts worldwide. Legion membership is open to any honorably discharged veteran who served during the time periods established by Congress.
Post 9, receiving its charter in June 1919, is named in memory of Derry native Lester W. Chase, who was killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in 1918. He was only a few days shy of his 21st birthday.
Since its establishment, Post 9 and its members, including the Ladies Auxiliary and The Sons of the American Legion, have been dedicated to improving the community, particularly in areas that assist veterans and youth. The Post sponsors a Junior and a Senior Legion Baseball team. They fund high school representatives to Boys State and Girls State. They sponsor competitors in the Legion Oratorical Contest, which provides tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships and grants. They give Recognition Awards t
o Eagle Scouts and to outstanding cadets in the Pinkerton Jr. ROTC program. Veterans Hall, used by the Town Recreation Department, was a gift to Derry from Post 9. The construction and maintenance of the original four Veterans Monuments at MacGregor Park in large part represented the organized efforts of Legionnaires.
Today, the Post 9 Honor Guard is known throughout the state and has won numerous awards for their excellence and spirit. They are even invited by Pposts outside of New Hampshire to participate in special events.
On a more somber note, the Post 9 Honor Guard is frequently called upon to extend honors for deceased Veterans by acting as a Military Guard at wakes and burials. Whenever possible, such requests, whether from families of Legionnaires or not, are honored.
The Junior Baseball team won the State Championship in 2007 and the Senior Baseball Team, although not making it to the top, has made the playoffs four years in a row.
The Post Home at 13 East Broadway is closed for the winter but plans to reopen in the spring for functions and events.