Nationwide, the American Legion was chartered in September, 1919, as a social organization of war-time veterans and active duty personnel to help all veterans who need assistance. During that time in Longmont, Colorado, there was an informal group consisting of former World War I Veterans, and they decided to join the American Legion. John Harold Buckley Post 32 was chartered on October 1, 1920, with 15 members.
Our namesake was born in Longmont, Colorado in 1897. Buckley achieved the rank of 1st Lieutenant, and was in the 28th Squadron 3rd Pursuit Group. On September 27, 1918, he was killed on the 3rd day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. He and a fellow pilot, Lt. Kenneth Bell, were forming up in a patrol to cross enemy lines on a combat mission in the midst of low clouds. Weather reports stated that it was a rainy day and visibility was poor. From the statements of two other pilots, Lieutenants Bell and Buckley were seen to be going head-on towards each other at the same level.
Then, both planes were seen to dive with one making a turn to avoid the other. This resulted in a mid-air collision where the left wings of each plane were torn off. The collision caused them immediately to go into a vrille—a French term for a bad spin—also called a death spiral. Upon striking the ground, both planes burned, and the pilots were died instantly. Lt. John Buckley was posthumously awarded both a Purple Heart and WWI Victory Medal in 2003. Buckley Air Force Base located in Aurora, Colorado is also named for him.*
We are among the oldest American Legion Posts in the country with a rich history fast approaching 100 years. We care about America, Veterans, their families, our nation's youth, and our beautiful city of Longmont.
Our Post has had the distinction of producing 5 Colorado Department Commanders:
Cal Maier - 1951-52
Tillson Gorsuch - 1987-88
Steve Dillman - 1998-99
Ralph Bozella - 2006-07 - In addition to serving as Department Commander, Ralph was elected and served as National Executive Committeeman from 2008-2012. In 2011 Ralph was named chairman for the System Worth Saving Task Force to conduct site visits at VA medical centers. He as then appointed chairman of the national Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission where he served from 2012-2022. Ralph also served the state of Colorado appointed by three governors as a member of the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs, serving as chairman for six years. He also was appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to the State Veteran Home Commission where he served as chairman for two years.
Jim Gates - 2012-13 - In addition to serving as Department Commander, Jim was elected as National Executive Committeman - Alternate, 2014-2015. He also was appointed to National Americanism Commission, 2006-2013 and National Americanism Council, 2015-2019. At National Convention, Jim was twice elected Vice-Chairman of the Americanism Convention Committee.
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