Central County Fire & Rescue Firefighters Escort 101-Year-Old Veteran to Jefferson City For Her Missouri Veterans Hall of Fame Induction
St. Peters Resident Velma Jesse Helped Start The First All Women American Legion Post in 1945
ST. PETERS, MO Oct. 30, 2021 — One hundred and one year old Velma Jesse received a hero’s escort to her Missouri Veterans Hall of Fame Induction in Jefferson City, MO Friday. Firefighter/Paramedics from Central County Fire & Rescue (CCFR) and Central County Community Outreach volunteers made sure Velma safely arrived at the state capital to be honored with five other Missouri veterans.
In 1945, Jesse and 11 friends started the country’s first all women American Legion post, St. Louis Service Women’s Post 404. In 1948, she joined her post in presenting President Harry Truman with the ceremonial shovel for the groundbreaking ceremony for the Gateway Arch National Park.
Nearly 80 years later, in March 2021, she attended a CCFR Community Outreach Veterans Appreciation Lunch, where she met CCFR Fire Captain David Maupin.
“Miss Velma’s passion for service is inspiring,” Maupin says. “When we heard her story and learned she was being inducted into the Missouri Veterans Hall of Fame, we knew we wanted to support her along the way.”
Jesse was 21 years old when America was thrust into World War II with the attack on Pearl Harbor. She answered her nation’s call for women to enlist and joined the Army, where she served as a Mess and Supply Sergeant at Camp Upton in New York. Her unit supported the military convalescent hospital for wounded coming back from Europe. She served a total of six and half years, ending her military career as a Staff Sergeant.
“We just did what needed to be done because it was the right thing to do,” Jesse says. “It was an honor to serve then, and it is an honor to be inducted into the second annual class of the Missouri Veterans Hall of Fame today.”
From the Missouri State Capitol rotunda, State Rep. Wayne Wallingford (retired Air Force) served as the Master of Ceremonies for the induction ceremony. The Missouri Veterans Hall of Fame was established in 2019 and recognizes Missourians who served in the military and then continue to contribute to their communities, state, and nation in exemplary manners in the areas of civic and public service, professional distinction, veteran advocacy and volunteerism.
“We are extremely proud of Miss Velma, and all the veterans in our community who have served our country,” Maupin says. “We’re privileged to bear witness to such a great moment in Missouri’s history. Our mission of ‘Working Together, Supporting Our Community’ has no greater honor than in supporting the veterans who walk among us every day.”