My name is Walter J. Durbin. I am a life member of the Legion and consider the Legion and my service to God and country the two most important chores
in the scheme of life, with the exception of loyalty to my beloved wife of 56
years - and, I might add, a past president of the W.Va. Auxiliary with almost as many years of active service with our home Legion post in St.
We both served the post in many capacities. Other than president and
commander and prior to our service with St. Albans, we lived in south
Charleston and were both members of Post 94 in like positions, before
moving to St. Albans due to my job.
I served my country in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean conflict, and I think that is enough info to let you know that at 83, I know my way around
town. That concludes my service connections.
Now, I wish to inform you of a fellow veteran and Legionnaire from St.
Albans Post 73, who lost his life in a tragic accident on his way
home from a Legion activity.
His name is Richard "Dick" Smoot, master sergeant, retired.
I also served as chaplain in both local posts mentioned, and have never
been to a service for anyone with the exception of my own little boy, age
12. I won't go into that, except to say that they both brought tears to all
who attended both services.
I would make a conservative guess that over 250 GIs in full dress attended
Smoot's funeral from various states, plus local GIs, Legionnaires from other posts, plus many other servicemen from states I didn't know. The service took three full hours, with burial at Donnel Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery.
This gentle man was a dear friend and spent at least one hour every
week at Post 73, where he served the last three years as commander, and more
than likely performed every dirty job no one else in the post would
consider doing and seemed to love every minute.
I can truthfully say that I have never seen more dedication to a post by anyone I can recall, at 83 and having worked on railroads, chemical plants, in jobs that required brawn and brain - and I had very little of either!
I consider St. Peter one of my best friends, and he tells me that because of my loyalty to a risen savior, I might have a good chance of joining my son,
two brothers and two sisters and others, probably soon, so don't forget me,