Post 404 History - The Past is as Important as the Future
Seventy-one World War II female veterans chartered St. Louis Service Women’s Post 404 in 1945. The temporary charter was issued on January 7, 1946 and the permanent charter was issued on October 11, 1946.
These ladies served their country honorably and in many cases risked their lives for the preservation of peace. Those first women served as nurses in North Africa, the Battle of the Bulge and the Philippines; as clerks and drivers on General Eisenhower’s staff in England and Versailles; as secretarial support during the Nuremberg trials; and many support roles in both the continental United States and overseas. When these ladies returned to their hometown of St. Louis they sought out the same camaraderie and friendships they found while serving their country.
In 1945, there were many American Legion posts throughout the St. Louis area. There was also an all women post, Missouri Women’s Memorial Post 108 – the only one in the state of Missouri. This post was comprised of Army nurses mainly from World War I. They were a proud lot and were considerably older (50’s and 60’s) than the returning World War II veterans (early 20’s).
Recognizing the potential issues caused by the age difference and the fact these new veterans had different objectives, WWII veterans like Lee Kahmke and Bernice Brockman pushed to form a new all women’s post. They believed the “younger girls would be dominated by the older women. Or - the WWII women would be pitted against the WWI women.” This became one of the main reasons in organizing a second post – to avoid the friction with Post 108.
Folklore has it that when the WWII female veterans appeared at the door of a traditional American Legion post they were told they could only join the auxiliary. While this is more than likely true, it was not the sole reason for forming what is now the largest American Legion post in the city of St. Louis and one of five all women posts in the state of Missouri.
In the fall of 1945, the charter members of St. Louis Service Women’s Post 404 thought long and hard about a name for the newest post in St. Louis. Since an Army Nurses post already existed, the charter members decided they wanted a name that would encompass all women veterans. Their choice of St. Louis Service Women’s acknowledged the location of the post, all branches of military service, and all ranks of women. Their choice of name caused some friction with the members of Missouri Women’s Memorial Post 108. Those ladies took offense to Post 404 using Women in their name. With the assistance of the 12th District Membership Council, their choice of St. Louis Service Women’s prevailed.
While Post 404 does not have a permanent home, over the 70 years of existence they met in many different venues. These venues included Soldiers Memorial, the Saum Hotel, the Altenheim Retirement facility, and Salad Bowl Restaurant. Today, Goff-Moll Post 101 in Brentwood, MO, is the home of the Post 404 meetings and other events.