American Legion Women’s Auxiliary Unit 102

Marshall-Holley-Mason American Legion Auxiliary Unit 102

American Legion Post 102 was established in Martinsburg, West Virginia in 1934 during segregation. It is named in honor of James Henry Marshall, Lewis Holley, and Marshall Mason, three African American men from Berkeley County who served in WWI.

On February 19, 1941, Katherine B. Holley submitted the Application for Unit Charter of the American Legion Auxiliary to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of West Virginia to request formation of an Auxiliary Unit. The goal was to be attached to the Marshall-Holley-Mason American Legion Post 102. The request was made by women from Berkeley and Jefferson counties. The Marshall-Holley-Mason Auxiliary Unit 102 Charter was issued on April 19, 1941.

The Auxiliary Charter Membership Roll for Unit 102 listed officers are: Katherine Holley, President; Marion Scott, Secretary; and Hattie Leftridge, Treasurer. Charter membership also includes Rosie Gant, Effie Washington, Nellie Campbell, Phoebe Powell, Isabella Jackson, Mary Robinson, Louise Holley, Nina Johnson, Mabel Virginia Smith, Ellenora Basey, and Clarice Anderson. Katherine Holley and Louise Holley, respectively, were the widow and daughter of Private Lewis Holley. He died in France in 1918 during WWI and was buried in the Oise-Aisne Cemetery in France. In 1930, Katherine Holley traveled to Europe to visit her husband’s grave site, as part of the United States World War I Mothers’ and Widows’ Pilgrimage.

Auxiliary members are: 1) The mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, granddaughters, great-granddaughters and grandmothers of members of the American Legion; 2) Same relation as above to those who died in the line of duty during such service or who, having received an Honorable Discharge, died after such service; 3) Women who are eligible in their own right.

Mission Statement
In the spirit of service, not self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.

Over the years, in addition to providing services to Post 102, the Auxiliary has worked diligently to provide volunteer services to veterans at the Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC), like hosting bingo night at the VAMC each month for many years. Members have held volunteer deputy positions at the VAMC, and the Auxiliary has received several awards for its volunteer work. Members continue to participate in the Christmas volunteer program by assisting veterans with their gift shopping, and by wrapping their gifts.

The Auxiliary conducts “poppy drives” to raise funds to provide care packages, gifts, food, and clothing to the veterans. Poppies are known as the “Memorial Flower” and are promoted nationally as a means to raise funds to help service men and women, and their families deal with their financial hardships. The Auxiliary sends Veterans Day cards, Christmas cards and get-well cards to the sick and shut-in.  The Auxiliary also actively participates in Memorial Day and Veterans Day services conducted by Post 102.

The Auxiliary keeps the veterans and their children in the forefront. It has orchestrated Easter egg hunts (or donated eggs) in the community, and has donated hot dogs, buns, and condiments to the Boys and Girls Club. A Christmas Party, complete with an African American Santa and elves in costumes, was one of the more recent endeavors sponsored by Unit 102. Gifts, home-baked goodies, and pictures with Santa and his elves were provided free to the community.

The Auxiliary compiled a Post 102 Veterans History Book which includes personal biographies and pictures beginning with WWI through the War in Kuwait. The Auxiliary interviewed the Post 102 veterans to collect first-hand accounts of their military histories. In addition, the Auxiliary researched and compiled histories of men who lost their lives in WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. They have conducted Red, White, and Blue Observances, along with support from the Post, at the Jefferson War Memorial Park to remember and honor their extreme sacrifices.

Past Unit 102 Presidents Katherine Holley, Annabelle Ferguson, and Ethelene Clinton (daughter of charter member Effie Washington), collectively, have been the backbone of this Auxiliary.  Their determination and dedication to the cause has kept the organization functioning for over 70 years. Marie Ross, Unit 102 Vice President, received a 1000 Hour Service Award from the Veterans Administration Volunteer Service for her service to the organization.

Current Unit 102 members include Linda Downing Ballard, Janet Baylor, Caroline Clinton, Talisa Creavalle, Corrine Curtis, Julia Downing, Evelyn Ferguson (member since 1967), Gloria Lindsey, Verdeana Lindsey, Lisa Holloway, Marie Ross, Yasheihqua Ross, Augustine Strother, Nikia Page, and Velma Twyman.