American Legion Dyer-Gunnell Post 180 was founded in January 1937 by WWI veterans and is the Town of Vienna's oldest community service organization. The Post Home is located on the 1745 Northern Neck land grant to John Jenkins, later sold to William Fairfax. During the Civil War the land was owned by the Gunnell family. Subsequent owners, the Keith and McClandish families, deeded the property to the Post in 1956.
During the Civil War the Union Army constructed a Star Fort on the land. This six-point earthen fort with a 130-yard perimeter was constructed on the highest point of land in the area. It provided a commanding view of the Western and Northwestern approaches to Vienna. Earthwork fortifications, serving as picket posts to protect approaches to Washington, D.C., or to protect railroads, were built throughout Northern Virginia during the Civil War. Because of the complexity of its design and time required to construct a star-shaped earthwork, it is a less common example of Civil War field fortifications. This work, with outlying rifle trenches, is thought to have been built between 1863 and 1865 to protect the Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad that ran 100 yards to the northeast. The site is also within 200 yards of Lawyers Road, then a prominent route to the northwest as well as to the City of Fairfax. We are very thankful that our Post's annual membership in the Virginia Civil War Trails program is sponsored by the Town of Vienna's Department of Parks and Recreation.
The main post was built in 1956/57 and Patriot Hall was added in 2003. One of the American Legion's 13,000 Posts in the 2 million members organizaiton, the Post is named after two WWI soldiers, from Vienna, killed in action in France, Corporal George Dyer and Private Clarence Gunnell.
George Bryant Dyer was born in his family home in Vienna on December 19, 1895, to John Asa Dyer (1872-1954) and Minnie Bryant (1866-1949.) Before the war he lived in Vienna and was employed as a powder factory attendant for the U.S. Government at Indian Head, MD. On November 6, 1917, Dyer enlisted in the Army at Camp Lee, Petersburg, VA. He became a member of the 80th “Blue Ridge” Division and was promoted to Corporal. On May 22,1918, he departed Hoboken, NJ onboard the U.S.A.T. Leviathan with 10,583 officers, enlisted men and nurses for Brest, France. He arrived in Brest, France on May 30, 1918. In October, after months of training in France, the Division was assembled as part of nine American Divisions in the vicinity of the Argonne Forest. American forces advanced for eight days toward the formidable German Hindenberg Line, described by one soldier as having “a machine gun behind every tree.” On the morning of October 5, they attacked again. Losses after a daylong battle were heavy, but at dusk they had succeeded in breaching the major portion of the Hindenberg Line. At some point in this engagement, George Dyer, age 23, was killed in action along with his entire machinegun squad. George was reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 18, Grave 3591, on September 29, 1921 with full military honors.
Clarence Leith Gunnell was born June 24, 1892 at Vienna to John Henry Gunnell (1858-1923) and Annie Rebecca Wiley (1861-1939.) He enlisted in the 54th Pioneer Infantry Regiment and was assigned to Company ‘D.’ According to a regimental history, Pioneers were: “...armed, and drilled as infantry, and equipped and trained to fight in an emergency, they were intended primarily to act as assisting forces to other arms... and were used chiefly in constructing railways and roads in the advanced area.” Clarence was sent to Camp Wadsworth, Spartanburg, SC for training. On August 30, 1918, he departed Newport News, VA on board the U.S.A.T. Duca D’Aosta, an Italian ocean liner chartered as a troop transport, with 2,028 officers, enlisted men for Brest, France arriving September 12, 1918. On September 26th Company “D” and “M’ were ordered to Aubreville to assist the 14th and 21st U.S. Engineers in extending the light railway lines toward the front. Clarence Gunnell was mortally wounded in action near Boureilles, France. He was transported to the Base Hospital at Mesves, Nievre, France, where he died on September 29, 1918.He was initially buried in the American Cemetery, Mesves, Nievre, France. He was later disinterred and returned to the United States onboard the U.S.A.T. Wheaton, which sailed from St. Nazaire, France on November 22, 1920, and arrived at Hoboken, NJ on December 15, 1920. The Wheaton carried the remains of a total of 2,468 officers and enlisted personnel.64 Clarence was reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 18, Grave 780, on January 14,1921 with full military honors.
A Women's Auxiliary of American Legion Post 180 was formed on 11 May 1939. The Legion has every reason to be proud of it's Auxiliary. Auxiliary members are always anxious and willing to co-operate in every Legion activity.
A Sons of the Legion for American Legion Post 180 was formed on 4 February 1980. The Legion has every reason to be proud of it's Sons of Legion unit, which gained statewide recognition because of it's programs of service.
MEMORIAL DAY has always been an outstanding occasion in this community. In addition to memorial events throughout the Town of Vienna, the goal of every Veteran to it's last man is to keep MEMORIAL DAY sacred to the memory of our war dead of all of the wars of the country; and all graves are decorated on this National Holiday.
ARMISTICE DAY, now called VETERANS' DAY, originally marked the end of fighting in World War I. It is an important holiday on the calendar of Legionnaires everywhere and in the hearts of all Veterans. It has been in ____. Annually the Post sponsored the Armistice Day Parade. An important tradition was established when the Post led in the memorial exercises at 11 o'clock on the morning of November 11, marking the exact hour of the cessation of hostility on the war fronts.
Registration Of Graves
Since it's inception American Legion Post ___ has been a leader in this community in the area of graves registration; which has been incorporated by all the American Legion Posts in ___ County. Grave Registration enables all interested parties to locate the site of the grave of each Veteran. American Legion Post ___ acquired a burial lot in ______ Cemetery and this has been marked by the erection of a massive monument marking it as the burial lot for servicemen without kin. Each year, active members place a flag on each Veteran's grave.
Scholarships and Community Projects
American LegionPost --- sponsors various scholarships for the further education of our children. We also sponsor and financially assist many worthy community projects and programs initiated by the National American Legion.
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