|History of the American Legion Post #212
Did you know that the American Legion was formed in Paris, France on March
15th, 1919 with 15,000 men and officers at the first meeting? Amongst those 15,000 members
was our first Commander, Virgil Ryan. He returned home and with the assistance of Theresa
Ericksen, a discharged Army nurse, began to organize the post we have today. They applied for
a temporary charter and received the charter on September 25th, 1919. They choose to name
our post after Otto Hendrickson because Otto was the first Park Rapids serviceman to be
killed in France during the war. The permanent charter was received October 21, 1920. In order
to establish a charter 15 members had to be retained.
The following is a list of our first 15 members.
Virgil E. Ryan
Clay P. Wright
Vard M. Shepard
Earle H. Rhodes
R. O. Langguth
Harry L. Hoch
Dr. Walter Higgs
Leon E. Witter
Harold H. Krause
Alvin A. Krause
Henry A. Nunn
A little history on Otto Michael Hendrickson, after whom the Post was named. He was born in
Sweden in 1896 and came to the United States with his parents and settled in Hubbard County.
He was married in 1912 to Miss Nellie Reynolds of Park Rapids. Otto enlisted and did not wait to
be drafted for the war. He went to training camp in Dodge, Iowa. From there he was sent to
Georgia and then to Long Island. A little later he was assigned to the Thirty-Second company,
326th infantry and was sent to France. Near the end of his hard campaign Otto was wounded in
the hip from a machine gun bullet and was hospitalized. He was released from the hospital in
September and a few days later was gassed. He then returned to the hospital. He returned to
his company in October. On October 12th, the Germans threw all their reserves in for the last
big offensive, the Battle of Marne, Otto was again wounded. This time it proved to be fatal.
Nellie, his wife, received at letter on November 25th, 1918, telling her that her husband had
been fatally wounded by shrapnel and passed away on October 14th, 1918. Otto is buried in the
American Cemetary in Muese-Argonne, France.