Recollections of Early Post 69 ( part 1) by: Tony Santillanes
The original Post 69 was started right after WWI, but in 1923-24 many posts in the state went defunct, in 1944 Moses Santillanes, who had been post master in Alameda since 1929 and had just gotten his discharge from the Navy Seabees decided to restart Post 69. All the World War I veterans from Alameda had transferred to a post located at Edith and Mountain Road whose Commander was Licho Martinez and referred to as the Licho Martinez post.
Most of the WW II veterans from Alameda were returning. Moses was the adjutant that got all the paperwork together, some of the first charter members were Eligio Padilla, who was the first commander, Frank and Johnny Mata, Vivian and Frank Chavez , Joe Santillanes, Ernie Perea, Prospero Sanchez, Elfigo Montoya, Fidel Lucero, and several others whose names I don’t remember. They decided to name the Post Duran Y Gallegos, Duran was a WW I veteran who was gassed and never recovered. He returned and died of complications of the gas and is buried at San Carlos the Alameda Cemetery. Gallegos was a WW II veteran who was killed on D Day and is buried in France at the D Day National Cemetery. All the veterans have Sons or Grandsons that belong to Post 69.
Post 69 met at Moses Alameda Bar from its inception until 1958. They started a Bingo Game and that was their main source of income. I was one of the first Korean War veterans to join. At the time a veteran had to have an honorable discharge to be able to join, Active service men could not join. I got discharged at 10:00 am in March of 1954 and was in the Post at 10:01 signed up by my Dad.
In 1968 I became commander and talked my Brother, Dave, into selling us a home he had on Corrales road. We refurbished it and built a bar. A lot of people in the Post thought the bar license that Moses had was the Legion license. However he had had the license since 1940 having bought it from the Chavez family. I got Richard Martinez, and a couple of other members and went to Santa Fe and got our license which is a club license and came back and started the club on Corrales Road. Alex Saiz, Richard Martinez, Prospero Sanchez were officers of the Post. All the officers became volunteer bartenders. We found out that we could get surplus barracks from Kirkland Field donated to us, all we had to do was figure out how to get them here. We did get them here and Prospero Sanchez, who worked for Springer Concrete talked his boss, Aldo Vaio, to let the concrete trucks dump any excess concrete at the Legion hall for our floor. Since Prospero was the loader of the trucks, he would load one or two extra yards in each truck that went out late, And he would be waiting for it at the Post. He almost single handed got the floor of that building poured and finished.
Part two of Post 69 history next issue.
Editor’s Note: There are still a few “old timers” around who may have some memories of those early days. To help round out the history of Post 69, If you could jot down some of those memories and send them to the Post marked for, “Newsletter”, we will try to compile a more complete history of our beginnings.
This month’s Salute to Service Veteran is Ruben Efran Trujillo. Born May 28th 1923 on a ranch in La Jara New Mexico. When Mr. Trujillo has always been a hard worker, when he was only 15 years old he went to Napa California and was in the CC camp (Civil Conservation Corp) for 6 months. In 1941 Mr. Trujillo voluntarily joined the Marine Corps. Unfortunately, due to his color blindness he was not accepted into the Corp. He did not give up. He wanted to serve his country and in 1943 he joined the United States Army. He was assigned to the 548 AntiAircraft Battalion at Camp Haan California. Camp Haan was home to soldiers who were an important part of the World War II antiaircraft strategy. As a T-5 Mr. Trujillo served as a power plant operator and truck driver.
Mr. Trujillo is a Charter Member of Duran y Gallegos American Legion Post 69 having joined in 1946. In the picture Mr. Trujillo is one of the original creators of this monthly newsletter.
THANK YOU RUBEN TRUJILLO FOR YOUR DEDICATION AND SERVICE TO AMERICAN LEGION POST 69