BEACON FALLS — For the better part of the last six decades, U.S. Navy veteran Walter Mis has been a staple at the Schaefer-Fischer American Legion Post 25 in Beacon Falls.
Walter Mis, who was born and raised in Beacon Falls, has volunteered with Post 25 for 66 consecutive years.
Walter, 90, began his military career in 1944 when he volunteered to enlist for the U.S. Navy. Most of his relatives were in the service, but Walter worked at Sikorsky, building planes for the war effort. This occupation made him exempt from having to join the armed forces. However, he wanted to join the Navy, and although his family objected, he stood his ground and enlisted.
“He worked for Sikorsky. He didn’t have to go. He enlisted,” said Jane Mis, Walter’s wife, who spoke on his behalf during an interview this week since Walter is partially deaf.
When the recruiter came to tell the men where they were assigned, Walter was told he had been assigned to the Army. However, he pointed out that he was an enlisted man, which gave him the right to choose which branch he wanted to serve in, which was the Navy.
Walter went to boot camp in Florida and, when he completed that, he was stationed at Camp Kearny in California where he worked on planes that had come back from Germany. Since he was so slender, his job was to work on the electrical system in the tails of the plane.
He served at Camp Kearny until May 31, 1946 when he was honorably discharged, holding the rank of Aviation Electrician’s Mate Third Class.
Walter met and married Jane when he returned from the service and they lived in Ansonia for six years while building a house in Beacon Falls. Once the house was completed, they moved back to Beacon Falls and have lived in the town ever since.
“When we got married we lived in Ansonia, but his heart was always in Beacon Falls,” Jane Mis said.
The couple will celebrate their 65th anniversary on May 1, 2013.
After leaving the Navy, Walter did not stop serving his country and town he loved.
Walter, along with Chester Mrozinski and Charles Gandarillas, were the driving forces behind the Schaefer-Fischer American Legion Post 25.
Walter Mis, Mrozinski, and Gandarillas planned many of the events that the Legion held throughout the years. The three of them also purchased a building at 125 South Main St., which served as the American Legion’s building for many years. It is currently owned by Beacon Falls Pizza Palace.
“They we’re a great bunch of guys. They really cared about the Legion,” Jane Mis said. “They kept that thing going.”
Jane Mis explained that the American Legion building wasn’t just a place for veterans, it was also a place where dances and balls where held. It was a social place where people gathered.
Over the last six decades, Walter Mis has served as both a commander and a chaplain at the legion. Earlier this year, he was honored by the Legion, receiving an award for his many years of service.
American Legion Post 25 Adjunct Richard Minnick said that Walter Mis and other World War II veterans made him feel at home at the Legion.
“When I first came out of the service, Walter and the other members made me feel welcome. And that wasn’t happening with Vietnam veterans around the nation,” Minnick said.
Minnick explained that Walter Mis still participates in honoring fellow veterans at the Legion.
“Here’s somebody that’s given back not only to his fellow veterans, but to the community. He’s done that for over six decades,” Minnick said.