|The 75th anniversary of Moffett Field came and went on April 12 with little fanfare. Were it not for the local American Legion, there may have been no fanfare at all.
On the same day, NASA Ames held its second annual "Yuri's Night" party, a celebration of the first flight into space by Yuri Gagarin, the Russian cosmonaut.
"It was the 75th anniversary, but unfortunately it took a total back seat to Yuri's Night at NASA," said Carolann Wunderlin, commander of the Moffett's American Legion Post 881, a community group for military veterans and their families. "We were dwarfed in our importance. Initially we wanted to have a big event, but they asked us to move our event."
Instead, the American Legion and the Moffett Field Historical Society found a smaller venue to celebrate the day Moffett was dedicated as a Naval base: April 12, 1933.
For its part, NASA Ames had wanted the Legion to include the 75th anniversary celebration with Yuri's night, said Philip Fluegemann, associate director of center operations, in an e-mail to the Voice. But the Legion, not wanting to confuse the two events, declined.
Though the Legion's membership is declining nationally, it has grown quickly to 35 members at Moffett, including many younger members. The group chartered the Moffett post just last year, with founding members Wunderlin, Richard Moore, Charles Rogers, Ralph Otte, Susan Moore and Beverly Rogers.
"We stood up our post so we can better service the needs of our contemporary warriors," Wunderlin said.
With Moffett housing hundreds of Army and Air National Guard officers, "Half of our members are still on active duty," Otte said. "We're one of the only ones in the country located on an active military base."
Among its members, the group boasts the grandson of the field's namesake, Admiral William Moffett. William Moffett III is a retired Marine colonel living in Arlington, Va., and has become a long-distance charter member, Otte said. Moffett will speak at a formal inauguration of the post later this year.
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