Two members of the Greatest Generation: David Allen and Flynn Menius
By Jana E. Pye, Editor, email@example.com
The monthly meetings of the Hartsville’s American Legion Post #53 have slowly been growing in participation once again, thanks to the efforts of Post Commander Phil Whittle.
The Post sits on Prestwood Lake, on the “Sonoco” side of the bridge, just at the turn at the traffic light. The meeting room is likened to a museum, with photographs of all the former commanders lining two walls – missing only six portraits, vintage flags, and relics from the Post and Darlington County adorn the other walls.
“Meetings used to be well attended,” said Whittle. “But they were in decline. We now hold them every month, and although we have had many of our veterans pass away in recent years, we have new members join. We have 53 paid members, but not all attend.”
One new prospective member introduced himself after the Oratorical Contest Victoria Penny completed her speech; Bob Carr, a U.S. Navy veteran from California who recently moved to the area was greeted by members with a hearty welcome.
The two eldest members of the Post are David Allen, age 92, a Darlington native that later moved to Hartsville, and Flynn Menius, age 93.
David Allen was a recent graduate of Presbyterian College when he was called into service. He arrived as a buck sergeant, part of a group of 400 young men that were sent to replace the troops lost in the Battle of the Bulge. Allen was quickly promoted to an assistant squad leader; while pursuing German soldiers, Allen was struck by shrapnel from an artillery shell, which broke his jaw in three places.
After recovering, he went on to work at Coker Pedigreed Seed Company, and later retired from there.
Amazingly, at the age of 92, Allen still drives, maintains his home, and checks on the National Historic Landmark at Coker Farms on 4th Street – often cutting the grass. He recently lost his beloved wife, Divver, a woman that was loved by many people in the community – including this writer.
“I’ve lived a fortunate life,” said Allen. “God is good.”
Mr. Flynn Menius at 91 can still do a hilarious imitation of the man he and David Allen fought in World War II…the terrible Adolf Hitler. Laying down his cane, Menius snapped to attention, tossed his scarf over his shoulder and began to do a barrage of clipped German phrases.
“Wait, you need this,” said Whittle, handing him a small black comb.
Menius deftly held the comb beneath his nose to mimic the small black mustache Hitler was known for.
Menius, like Allen, entered the war arena fresh from college, where he was attending North Carolina State as a sophomore. He arrived in Europe after the D-day landings, and served as the adjutant of the 3160th Signal Service Battalion, headquartered across the river from Frankfurt.
He went on to retire as an engineer, and served as a volunteer fireman for many years.
Both gentleman attend the monthly meetings at the Post #53, standing at attention with ramrod straight backs and salute the flag as they recite the Pledge of Allegiance as they have for decades.
The meetings are at 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month at the Post on Prestwood Lake.
All veterans are welcome to attend, and encouraged to join.
Can you help find these past commanders?
The Hartsville American Legion Post 53 is seeking photos of six post commanders to complete their gallery from 1920 through 2016. Anyone with further information about the following commanders is asked to please contact Post Commander Phil Whittle at: 843-858-2473 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
M. W. Glover: 1923–24
C. E. Bruch: 1927–28
M. C. Ramsay: 1928–29
M. B. Greene, Jr.: 1929–31
A. L. Blackstone: 1932-33
W. I. Hughes: 1939-40