Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Towanda American Legion honors first female commander

TOWANDA - Charlotte Madden Gates of Towanda was honored at a banquet held on Sunday afternoon for her 10-plus years of service to the Towanda American Legion Post 42 Honor Guard.

At the event, which more than 60 people attended, Gates received a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives presented to her by Rep. Tina Pickett; a certificate from the Veterans' Appreciation Committee; and a pin presented to her by Joyce Richlin, member of the Post 42 Ladies Auxiliary, according to Diane Elliott of Towanda.

Gates was also honored with a birthday cake during the banquet in celebration of her 84th birthday, which was April 15, Elliott explained.

According to Dan Rungo, vice commander, Gates was the first woman in Bradford County to volunteer for the draft during World War II. Gates served in the Marine Corps from 1943 until 1945 as a telephone operator at Camp Pendleton, Calif. During that time she also was a member of the Woman's Marine Dance Band, "Camp Bugler." "I was real popular then," Gates said.
Gates was "first and only" woman commander of the Towanda American Legion Post, and according to Rungo, she was also a member of the Ladies Auxiliary for many years, as well as being instrumental in forming the color guard and honor guard.

"I have enjoyed all the years of work," said Gates, who added that she especially enjoyed the funeral guard color guard. "We do it for any veteran even if they aren't a member of the post," something which not all posts will do, said Gates.

"I thank everyone for doing this; it was nice," Gates said as she expressed her gratitude to everyone who honored her at Sunday's banquet.

Gretchen Balshuweit can be reached at (570) 265-1639 or by e-mailing: