Idaho Legionnaires continue to honor memory of two veterans
In 2021, members of Post 101 in Mountain Home, Idaho, were given the cremains of two veterans: Air Force veteran Charles Howard, who died in Boise in 2011 and whose cremains were found in a sandwich bag in a house by its new owner; and another unidentified veteran whose cremains were found in a storage unit with a 48-star folded U.S. flag.
That June, members of the post’s Off Road Riders program went into the Sawtooth Mountains, stopping at a cliff overlooking Fall Creek. There, they set up two flagpoles – one for the U.S. flag, the other for the POW-MIA flag. The urn containing the cremains of the unknown veteran was placed there, while Howard’s ashes were spread on the rocks under the flags.
Since then, members of Post 101 and others have returned to the site a few times a year to replace the flags with new ones. Most recently, not even deep snow kept Department Adjutant Abe Abrahamson and State Off Road Riders Director Dan Thweatt – both members of Post 101 – from making the trip to the site. The pair joined a local news reporter and traversed the snow via snowmobiles to replace the flags.
“We like to pay respect to those two veterans by keeping the American flag and POW-MIA flag in the best possible shape that we can,” said Abrahamson, noting high winds in the area can damage the flags quickly. “We go out about every three months.”
When the conditions aren’t as snowy, Abrahamson and others will use four-wheelers to get to the flags. It’s a continuation of the Off Road Riders program that was born during the pandemic at Post 101 to allow its American Legion Family members to gather together safely for camaraderie and fellowship. Members of the Off Road Riders program – which has expanded from Post 101 to the state level – also use the program to assist others.
“The Off Road Riders where we live are very important,” Abrahamson said. “They keep the trails clean. And it adds another avenue for people to go out and enjoy the outdoors. I’m really proud of the way the program has come about and the things that are going on with it.”