The history of the American Legion Post 21, is long and distinguished.
Post 21 was founded by Dr. Robert O. Blood in 1919. Dr. Blood studied at Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Medical School, graduating in 1913 to establish a practice in Concord, as well as running a dairy farm in East Concord.
He served in the US Medical Corp. 26th Division from 1917-1919, serving in both Britain and France. He participated in the Second Battle of the Marne, where he was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross and the Croix de Guerre as a major in the Army Medical Corps.
He was the Commander of the Post 21 from 1919-1921, later Department Vice Commander, National Executive Committeeman, Department Commander and National Vice Commander of the Legion. He later entered politics and served as a New Hampshire House Representative, President of the New Hampshire State Senate, and later served as the 65th Governor of New Hampshire. Dr. Blood was also past president of the New Hampshire Veterans Association and a former chairman of the New Hampshire Y.M.C.A. Executive Committee.
New Hampshire American Legion Post 21 has also been home to many other distinguished and decorated members:
John G. Winant was Post 21 Commander in 1930. He served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and went on to be the first governor of New Hampshire to serve more than a single two-year term, winning the election three times. Winant was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the first head of the Social Security Commission and the International Labor Board in Geneva, Switzerland. Roosevelt appointed Winant as the ambassador to England in 1946. Later President Truman appointed him the U.S. representative to UNESCO.
Charles H. Willey was Commander of Post 21 in 1935. He served in the US Navy as a machinist on the USS Memphis. He received the Medal of Honor, his citation reads:
“For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession while serving on board the U.S.S. Memphis, at a time when that vessel was suffering total destruction from a tsunami while anchored off Santo Domingo City, 29 August 1916. Machinist Willey took his station in the engineer’s department and remained at his post of duty amidst scalding steam and the rush of thousands of tons of water into his department as long as the engines would turn, leaving only when ordered to leave. When the boilers exploded, he assisted in getting the men out of the fire room and carrying them into the engine room, where there was air instead of steam to breathe. It was approximated that he carried up 106 men on his shoulders, saving countless lives. He received serious 3rd degree burns from the steam himself. Machinist Willey’s conduct on this occasion was above and beyond the call of duty.”
Chester L. Wheeler of Post 21 enlisted in the US Army during WWII and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant to the 17th Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division as an Infantry Unit Commander, and assigned to the Battle of Attu. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Combat Infantry Badge, Purple Heart and the Attu Battle Star for his leadership and courage under fire.
Richard L. Parrish of Post 21 also received the Distinguished Service Cross for his service in the US Army. His citation reads, in part:
“For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Battery A, 1st Battalion, 92d Artillery, United States Army Military Forces, MR2. . . Specialist Four Parrish’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.”
American Legion Post 21 is housed in a building originally owned by the Abbott Downing Company which manufactured the famous Concord Coaches. Post 21 proudly continues its works for the Veterans and families of Veterans in Concord, NH.