When American Legion Post 28 in Grand Haven, Mich., was chartered on June 12, 1919, the 35 chartering members’ first order of business was naming the post. The chartering members discussed several possible namesakes. During the final ballot, Army, Navy and Marine Corps veterans all agreed – by a unanimous vote – that Charles A. Conklin would be the Post 28 namesake. Charles A. Conklin was born in Cook County, Ill., in 1895, later locating with his family to Grand Haven. Two years after graduating (1914) from Grand Haven High School, Conklin moved to Cincinnati to live with his older sister Helen and brother-in-law Arthur Nyland. Prior to enactment of the Selective Service Act of 1917, Charles A. Conklin joined the Ohio National Guard and was later drafted. His keen eye/hand coordination and athletic abilities landed Conklin in the legendary 42nd Rainbow Division of the 166th Regiment, as a machine gunner.
Conklin and his fellow soldiers set sail to France in October 1917. Once in France, the 42nd Rainbow Division made its way to the front line, where Conklin was seriously wounded in combat on May 4, 1918. He passed from his wounds on May 7, 1918. His body was laid to rest for the first time in an American plot (Grave #56) in the French military city of Baccarat. In February 1921, Conklin’s body was disinterred, transported to Grand Haven and buried in his final resting place of Lake Forest Cemetery in Grand Haven. Charles A. Conklin was the first fallen soldier of Grand Haven during WWI.
On May 7, 2020, Charles A. Conklin American Legion Post 28 held their annual memorial ceremony for the post's namesake at Lake Forest Cemetery. Post 28 Chaplain Duane “Smitty” Smith officiated with a tribute read by Post 28 Commander Janet E. Fonger. The post’s honor guard (headed by Smith), Post 28 officers, and service officer Hoyt Fonger respectfully stood in honor with a final salute and taps performed by Post 28 Legionnaire Walt Pedersen.