World War II veteran Louis Risser accepted his 70-year membership pin from Gilboa American Legion Post 536 on Tuesday. The Pandora man served in the U.S. Marines and Reserves during World War II and the Korean War. (Photo by Brenna Griteman)



PANDORA — Louis Risser saluted fellow members of Gilboa American Legion Post 536 on Tuesday as a 70-year membership pin was fastened to his uniform cap.

And the three Legion members — all young men in Risser’s eyes — solemnly saluted back.

“Seventy years of service, and I’m just 70 years old, Louie,” said post commander Roy Sutter. “Not too many of us make it that far.”

With seven decades of service under his belt, Risser has held multiple positions within the American Legion, including post commander for the Pandora post (which has since merged with Gilboa’s) and county commander. He has helped with the Color Guard and Rifle Squad at local ballgames, and has presided over area military funerals.

Asked what other offices he’s held through the years, Risser cocked his head slightly and paused. “I held ’em all,” he answered definitively.

Risser grew up a Pandora farm boy and joined the Marines in 1945 at age 18. He fought forest fires at Camp Pendleton and was later transported to Italy, where he worked with an engineering battalion that studied the architecture in Vatican City. The Marines wore their dress blues for these observations and even saw the Pope.

Risser went on to serve in the Marine Reserves for 20 years and was called upon for the Korean War, serving on a fact-finding mission as part of the Fleet Marine Force.

Upon returning to Pandora, Risser married Margaret DeVore of Gilboa, who he met in high school. He continued on as a farmer and became the second hire at Dana Incorporated in Lima.

These days, he’s a resident at Hilty Home, where he says “I’m trying to behave all the time.”