Alfred Erickson Post recognizes long-time members
HANCOCK — The Alfred Erickson American Legion Post 186 recognized several long-term members at its regular monthly meeting Wednesday evening.
John Gedda, Paul Abrahams, Willard Shuler, U.S. Navy veterans, received awards for at least 50 years of membership, as did Carl Wouri, whose branch of service is unknown, who has been a member for 70 years. Frank Taucher, Jimmy Houle, and Phil Verville, veterans of the Vietnam Era, have been members for 53 years.
“Jim Houle and I were both stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, and he was on a ship on one side of the pier,” Verville said. “I was on a ship on the other side of the pier. We didn’t even know the other was there. We didn’t have a clue.”
Verville said he and Houle grew up in Hancock, served in the Naval Reserve together, and went on active duty, and lost track of each other.
“He was on the USS Vulcan, which was right across the pier from my ship,” Verville said, “and I was on the USS North Hampton, and we were both on Pier Five.”
The USS Vulcan (AR-5) was the lead ship of her class of repair ships of the United States Navy during the time, and North Hampton was the Communications Command ship, with a crew of approximately 1,800.
“It was the Presidential Command Ship,” he said, “and we had President (Lyndon) Johnson on board in 1967.”
Verville said he was a member of the Honor Guard, holding a salute as the president came aboard, something he said he will remember forever.
“He was a big guy,” he exclaimed. “I couldn’t believe it. I was standing there saluting him, he stepped back to help his wife come aboard the gangway, and he actually almost knocked me over. I had to step back, while still holding the salute.”
Verville said he thought it was an honor at the time.
“How many people in the Navy can say they did something like that?”