This Saturday, Oct. 3, will mark a milestone anniversary for a Batesville organization. The Harry B. Stokes VFW Post 4501 in Batesville was chartered on Oct. 3, 1945.
Post Commander Curtis Matheny (pictured above with the post’s original charter) told White River Now the anniversary will be celebrated on Veterans Day of this year, Nov. 11.
Matheny said the post has been located on the same corner, Riverside Drive & Myers Street, for those 75 years. He said the building was much smaller for many of those years, until an addition to the structure was built around 20 years ago. Matheny said the extra space is used now for its Thursday and Sunday bingo and for special occasion events.
The man whose name the post bears, Harry B. Stokes, was a member of Company L of the Arkansas National Guard headquartered in Batesville. Stokes was a First Lieutenant.
The company was activated into the U.S. Army in November of 1940. Stokes served in the Aleutian Islands and Alaska before being sent to Europe where he was killed in action on Christmas Day, 1944.
Stokes attended Batesville schools and was a member of the First United Methodist Church.
Before being activated in the Army, Stokes worked at the Western Auto store in Batesville. He had five brothers: W.S. Stokes of Batesville; Earl Stokes of Phillip, Tex.; Staff Sgt. Keith Stokes of Georgia; Ensign Ray Stokes, who served in the South Pacific; and Cpl. Fred Stokes, who served in Italy in World War II. Harry Stokes had three sisters: Leah Stokes of Batesville; Jean Stokes of Newport; and Edna Stokes of Texarkana.
When VFW Post 4501 was chartered 75 years ago, it had the names of 125 members on the charter. Among them: the former editor of the Batesville Daily Guard, Paul Buchanan; Batesville dentist Dr. Robert Craig; and Sgt. Hale Coop, who was in the Arkansas National Guard and was Sergeant-in-Charge of the National Guard Armory in Batesville.
Commander Matheny said the Post’s oldest member, Lloyd Gathright, is 103. He said on Gathright’s 100 birthday, he was presented with a lifetime membership.
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