James Gouras, a lifelong resident of Smithtown, has been a member of American Legion Post 833 since 1947. The son of Sotir, a furrier (coat maker), and Anastasia Gouras, James Gouras was born on March 28, 1927. He holds the distinction of being the oldest member of the James Ely Miller Post 833.
Gouras served in the United States Army from April 1945 until his honorable discharge in December 1947. During that time, he served in the military police and was a part of the occupational forces in Japan.
At a Post meeting on September 12, Post Commander Bill Coderre presented Gouras with a certificate honoring his 75 years of continuous membership.
“Jimmy, we thank you for your service, for all you have done for the community and the Legion for the past 75 years,” said Coderre. “It is our great honor to present you with this certificate of appreciation.”
Also present at the meeting: District Attorney Ray Tierney, who presented a proclamation honoring the achievement.
In addition to the dozens of members present were Gouras’ two daughters. One daughter, Diana Gouras Torigian, said, “the fact that he has such a long history in the town, I think that’s what’s really special to us in the family and to dad.”
She emphasized the camaraderie of the American Legion and what it has meant for her father, who was born and raised in Smithtown.
Gouras himself was not one to boast of his tremendous service as plainly stating, “we were asked what we were told to do, sometimes a little extra.”
The honoree went on to recall some details of his service. Still, for those further interested in his service and the history of Smithtown, the Smithtown Library maintains a video recording of Gouras and other locals as a part of one of their preservation projects.
Post 833 was founded on January 23, 1920. The American Legion offers Veteran services and has taken part in numerous community service projects over the past 102 years. The group’s mission is to provide support for Veterans, active-duty military, and their families.