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Orville Jackson

Legacy Lives and Continues to Serve through the American Legion, Post 127

Story by Rebecca Evans
Photos by Rase Littlefield and Eagle Museum

In 1919, US Congress chartered and incorporated the American Legion. Today, as the largest wartime veterans service organization, the Legion is committed to mentoring youth and giving back to the community, advocating patriotism and honor. Orville Jackson, Post 127, located in Eagle, Idaho, contains over 130 veteran members. The post holds a particularly special place in honor of Orville Jackson, who joined the American Expeditionary Forces in 1917. Orville deployed to France and served as a combat medic. Returning from World War I a war hero, Orville moved to Eagle, Idaho. Orville passed away in 1984, but the site of The Orville Jackson Drugstore that he purchased in 1922 still stands on the corner of Eagle and State.  American Legion Post 127, named in his honor, serves as one of Idaho’s thriving posts.

Danny Lowber, born and raised in Nampa, Idaho, initially joined the United States Air Force in 1972, serving four years during the Vietnam Era.  He returned in 1988 as part of the Idaho Air National Guard and now serves as Chaplain for Post 127. His total time in service spans twenty-three years.

Danny worked as an Administration Specialist in the Comptroller’s Office and later in the Personnel Office. Danny moved to education, helping others achieve their dream of completing four year and graduate degrees. By the 1970’s, officers required a college degree. Previously, a person could gain promotion in the field without a degree but would eventually need a degree to retain their officer status.

Now retired, Danny continues to serve as Chaplain, helping those in need, including grieving veteran families and funerals. He also participates on the Honor Guard, presenting the American Legion and American Flags at parades and other special occasions. As a member of the Honor Guard, Danny also assists with the Wounded Warrior Project.

Still a passionate learner, Danny continues to grow and challenge himself. He’s studying Spanish, taking lessons and participating in a study group.

“This feels quite the stretch from my school days in England in 1977, where British Cockney warranted a translator,” he says.

“I love history and was lucky enough to gain amazing study habits from my professor, Dr. G. Barrett,” Danny says and then shares how he uses Barrett’s study method still today, seeking three versions of history for a singular historical event. One of those versions includes a personal diary, which helps pull away from any bias in biography or news. He also used this method as an Adjunct Professor teaching theatre at Boise State University for twelve years.

“Out of 23 years, ten in a half were active day. My name was on the list to go to Bosnia, suitcase packed, and the colonel said ‘no.’ Told me that he couldn’t afford to let me go. I wanted to serve at the level. I feel I missed out some experiences and comradery in theater, in a war zone.”

Though Danny had hoped to serve in combat, his military journey held other plans.

“Life’s a journey, made of choices,” he says.  “For example, when you go to the market – along your route – say you’re walking from the east, if you’d gone the west way, you would’ve run into different people. From the time you leave your house, the path you take determines the people you meet. Embrace these choices. This is life.”

And it is. Danny served his country, helping others achieve their dreams and academic goals. He continues to serve, “Our Post stocks food at the Veteran’s home.” He nods. He smiles his generous smile.

When I attend Post 127 monthly meeting as a Veteran, I sit near the back, and Danny leads a prayer, his voice soft and encouraging.

As a group, we pause and acknowledge the POW/MIA Empty Chair for the thousands still unaccounted for and a member reads aloud words that shake me;

This table, set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors. The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms. The single red rose in the vase signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America….

Near the front, another member, Amber Montgomery, joins, sitting with her husband. Amber, born in Twin Fall, raised in Idaho, graduated from Boise High and enlisted in the National Guard her senior year. Two days following high school graduation she left for Basic Military Training. She exited the service to finish college then re-entered, this time stationed in Korea. She served both in the Army National Guard and the US Army, active duty.

Her time in service mostly consisted of administrative work and she found herself the only female in her unit, working with the Military Police, mainly with payroll, scheduling, and training.

She married her husband, also active duty. After struggling to get stationed together as two active duty military members, Amber exited the military with an honorable discharge to remain with her husband and focus on raising her two sons. Her husband’s military status took them to Hawaii, Fort Bragg, Italy, and the Pentagon, to name a few, and in most of these locations, Amber found a way to serve her country while supporting her husband and caring for her young family.

The couple retired in Idaho, the place they call home, and Amber now works for the Ada County Sherriff’s department and is an active member of the American Legion, Orville Jackson Post 127 in Eagle, Idaho.

Transitioning three years ago from military life to civilian community has proved challenging. “In the military, you felt your neighbors, they stayed near and everyone lifted one another in support. Now, I’m finally finding that in the smaller Idaho communities and through veteran organizations, such as the American Legion. But it has been a transition for certain,” she says.

Amber and her family have focused on helping veterans, like serving at the Veteran’s breakfast, participating with the drill team and assisting with Reefs Across America.  Her oldest son is a Combat Medic. Over the last 45 years, at least one male in her family lineage has served in the Armed Forces.

“Living in Eagle, well, it’s much like the old neighborly military hug. People know each other and many of our neighbors are ex-military, and this offers a deeper level of connection and community,” she says, and then adds, “it’s nice being back home.”

Idaho is one of those few locations that feels like home almost as soon as you step foot on her soil, hence the pilgrimage from other states to re-settle here. Many military families have relocated to Idaho, purposefully to find that small-town, neighbor-feel that they once experienced in service. Idaho still holds family values and looking out for another, and for many, veterans and civilians, this matters most.