Compiled by Bill Beck
The history of Colin Hyde Post #172, The American Legion, is a human document. When disaster struck our Nation on December 7, 1941, the minds of Bainbridge Island veterans who had previously served their Country, and who, because of age or disability, could not serve again, naturally turned to those duties which did lie within their sphere of service. It immediately became obvious that all sorts of civilian activity would be imperative to aid the National Defense. While Bainbridge Island, with a very small population, consequently had very few men who had served in the First World War, those few, nonetheless, felt the 'call to the colors' as strongly as they had almost a quarter of a century before.
It was that individual urge, gravitating to a cohesive core, which brought Colin Hyde Post #172 into being. The creed of the American Legion is embodied in the sworn obligation of each member: Service to the Community, State and Nation. Therefore, the American Legion was the organization chosen to perform the needed service during the Nation's peril and beyond.
Early in 1942, the local Island veterans began holding organizational meetings and, as a result, submitted the appropriate formal documents to establish the new Post. Finally, at the first official meeting, on Friday, April 3rd, 1942, the newly elected officers of the Post, headed by V.E. (Eddie) Uhrich as Commander, were installed. Seventeen charter members comprised the original body.
On May 11th, 1942, the Post received its temporary charter from The American Legion National Headquarters. Approximately one year later, on April 30th, 1943, the Post was granted its permanent charter. As such it was a 'war baby', and a vigorous one. Post meetings were held at numerous locations in Winslow during the first eight years of its existence. It has grown under the leadership of successive commanders from the original 17 members to the size it is today. The horizons of its accomplishments are still in the distant future.
The Post is named after a Bainbridge Island veteran who died in the service of his country in WWI. In 1949, the family of Colin Hyde donated the land on which the Post now stands. The building itself is part of what once was barracks building #62 in Fort Ward at the South end of the Island. The Post purchased the surplus building sections for $960.00 which also included the cost of transportation of said materials over to the Post building site which had just recently been cleared. The first regular Post meeting was held in the newly assembled Hall on February 24, 1950.
The American Legion Auxiliary Unit #172 received its permanent charter on January 13, 1944 with a total of 35 charter members. Mrs. Leare H. Larson was elected as its first Unit President. From their inception to the present day, they have been valued partners in the Post's successes. Their hard work and dedication on behalf of veteran's programs are remarkable. Specifically, their children and youth projects as well as various activities in support of hospitalized and nursing home veterans have been and continue to be truly beneficial to the community as a whole.
Our Sons of the American Legion, Colin Hyde Squadron #172, was chartered on January 23, 1998. Fourteen members comprised their initial membership with Bill Beck, Jr. as their first Commander. Their ranks have continued to grow ever since. Squadron members assist the Post in various functions as needed. They have been especially helpful with the placing of American Flags on National Holidays both in downtown Winslow and at our Island cemeteries.
From their charter beginnings down to the present, Colin Hyde Post, Unit, and Squadron #172 have actively supported and participated in all elements of the 'Four Pillars' of The American Legion: Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation; National Security; Americanism; and Children and Youth. Post activities include but are not limited to the following:
- Provides a trained Service Officer to give free assistance and representation to veterans and their dependents.
- Lobbies at the federal, state, and local government levels on veterans issues for our entire military family including active duty, retirees, reserve components, and the National Guard.
- Honors, supports and celebrates all major national holidays.
- Conducts Flag etiquette classes at local grade schools.
- Sponsors Boy Scout and Cub Scout activities.
- Sponsors High School Juniors to attend Boys and Girls State.
- Fund two annual partial scholarships for High School Seniors to attend local colleges.
- Hosts quarterly Blood Drives to support the local Blood Bank.
- Opens the Post Hall to serve as a political debate venue and forum during campaigns.
- Makes donations to local Nursing Homes to assist our sick and/or elderly veterans.
- Ships care packages to current military veterans serving overseas.
- Works with American Red Cross to prepare for natural and/or man-made disasters.
The future of The American Legion Colin Hyde Post #172 offers a rewarding and ever expanding avenue of opportunity for service. We sincerely thank those who have helped us in the past, those who currently support the Post now, and additionally, take this occasion to welcome all newcomers who apply to join our Post. For that which lies ahead of us, we ask for your continued help and membership!