Fred Lester was chosen and elected Commander for 1949. His name has appeared often in this history. A little about Fred on a personal note. Commander Lester and his wife Minne were blessed with four sons and one daughter.The oldest boy, George served in the Air Force in WW II as a bombardier. just ready to leave for the European Front his plane and another collided in mid air during maneuvers in Florida. George was in the hospital for quite some time. The second son served in the Navy all through the war. The third boy served with the Marines, Frederick Faulkner Lester. He paid the Supreme Sacrifice at Okinawa. For outstanding heroism beyond the call of duty, he was awarded posthumously the highest decoration which our government can bestow. THE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR. There is an athletic field in Japan named in his honor, also one of our warships. His mother christened this ship. And right here in Downers Grove is a new grade school dedicated in his honor.And the fourth son, did try his darndest to join, but the odds were against him for he was too young.
In the years gone by Post 80 had been sagacious and like a squirrel, managed to lay a little of their carnival and car raffle profits in the bank, and for all of this, Commander Lester was soon to learn that the Post had acted wisely. There were times when the temptation to splurge would arise but the Post always pretty much kept within the budget. The Post had always been generous to our Auxiliary Unit and would allocate to them 10 to 30% of the carnival profits.
The Post was now in a financial position to take advantage of any opportunity that may prove beneficial to the Post. Here in February of 1949 just such an opportunity presented itself. There was a World War One veteran in town who owned a tract of land on Ogden Ave. about a half mile west on Main St.It was approximately forty-nine acres with close to 700feet of frontage on Ogden Ave. The post was informed that this veteran wanted to dispose of his real estate in Downers Grove and retire to Michigan. The Post had a chance to purchase this land for $25,000.00 cash. Commander Lester took this proposition to the Board Meeting the purchase was approved. The adjutant mailed notices to the entire membership. At the next meeting the membership voted to purchase this land. Past Auxiliary President Emily Mrkvicka, and real estate agent helped to close the deal.
The land was purchased and opportunities began almost immediately. On March 28, 1949 an agreement was made between the Post and Helicopter Air Service, Inc. for the use of land West of Saratoga and north of Ogden Ave. measuring 2000 square feet. The purpose being for a landing strip for the delivery and pickup of United States Postal Airmail. This is a two year contract and no charges were collected.
Through out the year 1948- 1949 all programs were carried out with great success. The carnival was now held on American Legion property and it was bigger than ever before. The finances of the Post were watched much closer than in the past and new requests were checked and rechecked before any funds were spent.
For the coming year Harvey Kenitz is elected the new commander.