Tom Smith, senior commander of Hamon Gray Post 83 and I - Susan Levenhagen, post adjutant - recently had the honor to present a 75-year American Legion continuous membership certificate to Charles Link. Tom said he didn’t think he had ever heard of anyone getting an award for 75 years of continuous membership. We are very proud and humbled by Charlie’s commitment to The American Legion and our post.
Charles F. Link was born Jan. 27, 1924, in La Porte, Ind. He was raised there and played bugle in the school band. That bugle was donated to the La Porte County Museum. Before his graduation from La Porte High School he was drafted into the Army/Air Force. Unable to attend his graduation, his mother collected his diploma. Charlie’s enlistment would take him from Utah to Missouri to California. Toward the end of his time in service he was stationed in Washington State. He said around midnight they were loaded on a ship, not really knowing where they were going. The ship arrived at his last duty station, Hawaii, where he would serve on three different bases as a plane mechanic. He would reach the rank of corporal before being discharged in 1945. Upon returning home he started working in a local funeral home. It was there that Legionnaire Harry Merchant from Post 83 came and signed him, and several other veterans, up for The American Legion.
Charlie liked to dance. He fondly remembered going to dances during his leave while on active duty. He reminisced about the Hollywood Ballroom in Glendale, Calif., where the Harry James Band would be playing. It was at a dance, when he had come home after discharge, that he met Shirley Cattron. They were engaged in 1947, married in 1949 and had two children, Charles Jr. and Rosemary. They have five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. They remain married to this day.
Charlie was 1st bugle in the drum and bugle corps for Post 83 for many years. He smiled as he spoke of their drum major, Norm Salwasser, strutting his stuff, “he was a real cracker jack!” He added that Norm won the baton for Best Drum Major in competition.
Charlie and Shirley were involved in the Legion while raising their children. As a family they helped at Legion fish fries. The kids participated in the boys and girls color guard and drum and bugle corps, among other activities.
In total, Charlie has now been a continuous member of The American Legion for 78 years. Cheers, Comrade, for your faithful service!