Walter Gaston, 87, was there at the beginning. After returning from the Navy in World War II, having served in Australia and New Zealand, he saw a need for a fraternal military organization in Bridge City. Co-founded with Capt. Glenn Humphrey, that group became American Legion Post 250.

Gaston, who also founded the Penny Record newspaper in 1960, was honored last week with a Lifetime Achievement Certificate by the post, represented by members Marv and Arlene Howland.

“Walter has provided a lot of things the post has needed over the years,” Marv Howland said. “He’s been an officer several times over, and anytime we’ve needed something and we don’t know where to get it, he usually knows how and where to get it.”  

Howland is a past state chaplain for the American Legion. Arlene serves as adjutant for the post. The couple recently retired from the Southeast Texas Veterans’ Service Group, which provides military honors at funerals.

“After World War II, veterans had a strong feeling of camaraderie and wanted to do something about it,” Marv Howland said. “Our membership at one time was way up there, and then a lot of us started dying off.” Still, the post now has about 80 members, Arlene said. The group meets at 6:30 p.m. second Mondays at Novrozsky’s restaurant in Bridge City.

Gaston, who has two daughters and seven grandchildren, remembers an early post location in Orangefield.

“It was a big dancehall at one time,” he said. Howland added, “We had to let it go at one point because the area wasn’t well lit and was too expensive for the members to keep it going,”

Gaston is also well-known for founding something else in Bridge City, the original Penny Record in 1960. “The first issue had about eight pages,” he said, and was newsletter size and of course, in black and white. The premier edition featured an aerial photograph of the city. The original office was a stucco building on Texas Avenue.

“We must take time to remember our World War II veterans,” Marv Howland said. “Walter may not have been in the center of action but it took every member of our armed forces to secure freedom for us. Many never had an opportunity to tell their story, and they are leaving us so fast every day. Many have gone without military honors and that is unconceivable.”

Gastron also received a World War II commemorative pin.
For upcoming information on upcoming Post projects, or to join, call commander Mike Reilly at 883-4753, or Arlene Howland, 745-3427.