Haverhill native Chris Manning is the current Commander of American Legion Post 4 in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Chris grew up in Haverhill, one of twelve children, his three brothers all served in the US Military. His dad served in the South Pacific during World War II, as a Machinist Mate First Class.
His older brother served in the US Navy in Vietnam, as part of the carrier-based air war against the Communists. His younger brother served in both the US Navy and US Air Force. Of his eighty-six nieces and nephews, one niece served over twenty years in the US Air Force, retiring as a Chief Master Sergeant. Chief Master Sergeant is the highest Air Force enlisted rank.
Chris Manning, served during the height of Cold War. Our interview, started with a discussion on his military service, a very modest man, he turned it towards his service to his fellow Veterans. Working within the American Legion, Chris spends most of his free time helping Veterans. Millions of Americans served during the Cold War, 1946 to 1991.
The United States and the Soviet Union were the key players, as they were the two superpowers of the world. Both nations lost troops during the Cold War, which many civilians think was not a real war.
Very few, if any US Military Veterans take this stand on Cold War service. Many incidents occurred, that could have turned out tragic, if quick solutions were not made, by politicians and military leaders on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Leaders, both from United States and the Soviet Union saved the world from a nuclear war.
The United States lost around three hundred and eighty-two military members during the so called, Cold War. Some of the casualties came through direct fire enemy action, particularly in Korea after the 1953 Armistice. Other Military members lost their lives, not as the result of engagements, but from “incidents” between the Communist Bloc and the US Military.
Historians find this number to be fluid, as incidents such as the attack on the USS Liberty AGTR-5 and the capture of the USS Pueblo AGER-2, produced casualties. For the US Navy sailor killed on the USS Pueblo, and the thirty-four US Navy sailors who died on the USS Liberty, the Cold War, was not so “Cold.”
A graduate of Whittier Technical High School, Chris served in the US Army as an engineer, out of Fort Dix, NJ. He also traveled widely on the US Army rifle team, shooting his M-14 rifle at targets from 50 yards to 600 yards away. Serving from 1978-1984, he left the US Army as a Sargent. After leaving the US Army, Chris Manning began his career installing and supervising the installation of natural gas lines.
His service to his nation did not stop after leaving the Army, it took off when he joined the Haverhill American Legion. With the rest of the Legion members, he is heavily involved in Veterans affairs with the City of Haverhill and the Veteran’s Administration. Chris and the Haverhill American Legion are closely partnered with the 100+ student US Marine Corp JROTC Unit at Haverhill High School. Chris says, “these JROTC students, are our Nation’s future.”
As Post Commander, he oversees the Haverhill Legion’s involvement with the Legion’s official youth programs, baseball, softball, JROTC, Scouting, and Boy’s State. Chris, as the newly elected Post Commander, also quarterbacks the Post’s Red Cross Blood Drives, Scholarships, recruiting new members, and working with Haverhill’s other Veteran’s groups. Haverhill is blessed with an American Legion Post, a US Marine Corp League Detachment, an American Veterans Post (AMVETS), a Veterans of Foreign Wars Post (VFW), and a Disabled American Veterans Post (DAV).
How important is their work? In 2022, 90% of DAV funds collected nationwide, directly benefited veterans and families. Attaining a mere 10% in overhead cost, is a number most charitable organizations will never reach. DAV, Legion, AMVETS, VFW, and US Marine Corp League service programs do not overlap or duplicate local, state, or federal, government programs.
These Veteran’s Organizations quietly pick up and fill the void left by US government agencies. Chris is most proud of the Haverhill Legion Post’s Children’s Welfare Fund, focused on making sure no child is left behind. The American Legion’s charity score is 91% with a four-star rating, according to the web site Charity Navigator. Chris and I discussed this, and I am happy to advise the Valley Patriot reader that “if the American Legion’s mission aligns with your beliefs, you can donate with confidence.”
Veteran, family man, tradesman, Commander of the Haverhill American Legion, Chris Manning’s work, serving our Nation’s Veterans and their families, make him a “Hero in Our Midst.”
The Haverhill, Methuen, Andover, and Dracut American Legion Posts ask all World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War Veterans, to call (603) 518-5368 and sign up for an Honor Flight to the Memorials in Washington DC!
Veterans of all eras are asked to go the American Legion’s Web site www.legion.org, and join the American Legion, our mission is working with Congress, Veterans, and the Community, preserving our Veteran’s Benefits for future generations and serving all Veterans and their families.
John Cuddy served in the US Navy’s Construction Battalions (also known as the Seabees) after retiring from the US Navy; he earned a bachelor’s in history and a master’s in economics from the University of Massachusetts on the Lowell Campus. He has been employed in Logistics at FedEx for the last 26 years. If you know a World War II, Korean War, or Vietnam War Veteran who would like their story told, please email him at John.Cuddy@Yahoo.com ◊