The first recorded minutes of Post 119 are dated May 10, 1920. Sixteen veterans attended the meeting called to order by Roland Reed. The proposed constitution and by-laws were read and a discussion and election of the first Post Officers followed. The results were as follows:
Commander – Roland Reed
Vice-Commander – Albert Hayden
Chaplain – Charles Anderson
Adjutant – Robert Lindley
Sergeant-at-Arms – Frank Bond
Finance Officer – Charles Hix
Historian – Julian Hayden.
Also present were Alson Chapman, Roy Baldwin, Howard Cheney, Ralph Doud, John Sherman, Clifford Mantor, James Worthington, Dwight McDaniel, and James Manning, Jr.
The Post received its charter on August 1, 1920 and the Auxiliary was formed in 1921.
The early meetings of the Post were held in the IOOF (International Order of Odd Fellows) hall. The post purchased its present home from the Bureau of Reclamation, and the formal dedication was held on November 11, 1954. The Post Home was placed on the Colorado List of State Historic Buildings on June 10, 1998.
At the regular Post meeting held on October 8, 2002, the members of Estes Park American Legion Post 119 voted unanimously to dedicate the Post to honor Joseph J. Duncan, Jr.
Junior Duncan, as he was known around Estes Park, was born here on February 4, 1912, the son of Joseph J. “Judge” Duncan, Sr. and Alice Duncan. “Judge” Duncan was the local Justice of the Peace and a realtor. Alice Duncan was an active member of the First Presbyterian church and a sponsor of the Westminster Guild. He also had two sisters, Janet and Alice.
Junior Duncan attended Estes Park schools where he was voted “most popular boy” in 1929 and class valedictorian of his graduation class of 1931.
In his early years, Junior Duncan was famous for his skiing achievements and had competed in many major ski meets throughout the United States. Among his numerous skiing accomplishments, he was the winner of the Second Annual U. S. National Amateur Ski championships held at Hidden Valley, Colorado in 1934. During the mid-thirties he was a member of the Cook’s Tours Company where he worked on steamships traveling the trans-Atlantic crossings and directed tours of Europe. During one tour, he met and married Audrey Cory of New York City. They later had a daughter.
He became an assistant manager of a hotel in New York City from 1936 to 1937. Upon the opening of the famous Sun Valley Ski Resort in Idaho, he joined the Ski School staff for two winters. He left Sun Valley to return to New York City to his former position as assistant manager of another hotel for two more years.
During World War II, Joseph Duncan entered the U. S. Army in January of 1942 as a private and volunteered for the newly formed 87th Mountain Infantry Battalion at Fort Lewis, Washington. In late 1942, Private Duncan subsequently moved with his unit from Ft. Lewis to what was then known as Camp Hale, Colorado, approximately ten miles from Leadville. He was sent to Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia on October 17, 1942. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt. of Infantry on January 7, 1943 and became a 1st Lt. on Sept. 21, 1943.
After his promotion he was transferred to the 10th Division Recruit School where his main responsibility was recruiting qualified skiers and mountain men for the division. By May 1944 he became the Company Commander with the rank of Captain and he was assigned to K-87.
In December 1944, Captain Duncan moved to Camp Patrick Henry, Newport News, Virginia where he and his company embarked on the U. S. S. West Point which left for Naples, Italy on January 3, 1945. On April 17, 1945 Captain Duncan was killed in combat during mop-up operations in the vicinity of the village of Cas Costa. The 87thMountain Infantry Regiment combat history states that, “Captain Duncan’s death removed a brilliant and inspiring combat leader from our ranks; his continual regard for his men’s welfare and his repeated heroism won not merely the respect, but the love of his men and associates. His loss was mourned by all, even at a time when there were so many fine men to mourn for.”
Post 119 held a rededication ceremony on January 12, 2003 renaming the Post honoring Captain Duncan. We are now officially known as the Joseph J. Duncan, Jr. Post 119.
1921, the first Armistice Day remembrances were held to commemorate the end of WWI. Later, Congress renamed November 11, Veterans Day.1923, the Post’s American Legion Auxiliary was chartered in November.
1928, our Post held the first of its annual Veterans Day Breakfasts on November 11th. This breakfast has been served continually since then with the only exceptions being during World War II, and last Nov due to Covid.
1938, we chartered Estes Park’s Boy Scout Troop 8.
1954, our current building was purchased from the Bureau of Reclamation that constructed the dam and Lake Estes. The formal dedication was held on Veterans Day.
1956, an annual event called Tiny Tots with Santa was established by June Bartlett, the Post’s Auxiliary President at the time. Nearly three generations (thousands of children) have visited Santa at our Post. Parents and grandparents bring their kids and grandkids back year after year.
In 1978, the Sons of The American Legion (SAL), a National Legion program, was chartered by the Post. David Rodgers was the first Squadron Commander. The Sons Steak Night Dinner, held the 2nd Friday of every month, has become well-attended and well-known.
1998, our building was placed on the Colorado List of State Historic Buildings. Constructed in 1939, it served as the administrative office for the Colorado-Big Thompson project until 1953. This structure is the State’s best surviving example of Depression-era, Bureau of Reclamation Colonial Revival design. We’re very proud of our home here.
In 2002, the Post was named in honor of Estes Park native Captain Joseph J. Duncan, Jr., US Army
2014, Post 119 began its Building Fund Campaign as a fundraising effort to replace our building’s roof, siding, and address other maintenance issues.
2016, Haunted House program, an inspiration of then Auxiliary President Justice Warren, in response to the National organization’s Halloween Safety program.
2017, Sponsorship of The Estes Park Repertoire Theatre, an amateur group that performs two or three productions per year, and sponsored our first American Legion Baseball team in the National Legion program.
Also in 2017, we were recognized when the May Honor Flight Northern Colorado trip was named for Estes Park. We are the ONLY community in Colorado to raise more than $100,000 for the two-day, all expenses paid visit of our WWII, Korean, and Vietnam War veterans, and recipients of the Purple Heart in any conflict, to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials for all wars. Most of the fundraising committee members represent our Post.
In 2018, we initiated sponsorship of The Estes Valley Amateur Radio Club, providing emergency communication services establishing us as a Red Cross Temporary Emergency Shelter.
Also in 2018, we chartered the American Legion Riders (ALR). Richard (Rich) Johnson was the first President. The Riders share not only a common love for motorcycles but also all things regarding our “Legion Family.”
In 2018, we also launched the 2nd Century Fundraising Campaign in celebration of our upcoming 2020 100-year success story.
May 29, 2021, our Post's membership is pushing 170 members.