PANDORA — World War II Marine veteran Louis Risser accepted a pin with tears in his eyes Tuesday, surrounded by friends and American Legion members recognizing him for his 70 years of service in American Legion Harter Williams Post 536 in Gilboa.
Risser, 91, received a pin from Post 536 Post Commander Roy Sutter, Sergeant at Arms Lennis Core and Post 536 member Paul Burkholder at Hilty Home in Pandora, where Risser has been a resident since October 2018.
He graduated from Pandora High School in 1945 and joined the Marines at age 18.
Risser was an engineer in the Marines and worked on the tanks and repaired heavy equipment. He served in the Marines beginning in 1944. He served in North Africa, Ukraine and South America.
“I went all around the world and served. The most notable thing was I represented the Marine Corp in front of the Pope,” Risser said.
He said he was honored to serve in the Marines and served on the USS Midway aircraft carrier.
He remained in the Reserves and was called up for the Korean War, when he served aboard a ship as part of the Fleet Marine Force. He was part of a fact-finding mission that involved checking out the feasibility of establishing bases at Newfoundland.
“I found it a miserable place to live, unhospitable with the cold and a rough terrain with rocky beaches and steep cliffs,” Risser said.
He remained in the Reserves for 20 years and said he served because he wanted to honor his country.
He attended Ohio State and studied agriculture. He had a private pilot’s license for 30 years, flying for fun. He followed in his father’s footsteps as a farmer and fed cattle and grew grain. He then spent over 20 years working in Lima at Procter & Gamble.
Risser married Margaret DeVore from Gilboa in 1945, whom he met during their high school years, and the couple had two children, Mike and Michelle.
He became a member 70 years ago of what was previously Pandora American Legion, which merged into the Gilboa Post, serving as commander of the Pandora post at one point.
He recalls participating in parades and assisting with military funerals by placing flowers on graves while serving as a legion member.
“Legions are important because they keep people in contact and they can relate to one another,” Risser said.
Sutter said each year, Legionnaires who qualify for a 50-, 60-, 70-, 75-, 80-, 85- or 90-year membership are honored.
“If we have any questions about history, we can count on him to help us,” Sutter said. He said the post assists veterans financially and emotionally, and it is important to honor them.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.