By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
Elida rancher Tommy McGee passed away in October 2004 at age 87, but his name will live on, thanks to a decision made by his friends at the Portales post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
According to VFW Post 9515 senior vice commander Duward Moon, it was a unanimous vote to name the post canteen after McGee.
“Tommy was here so long, and he used to come into the canteen all the time,” Moon said. “When he passed away, they voted to name the canteen after him.”
“He would be very proud,” McGee’s daughter Betty Price said. “He was a big supporter of the VFW, and he fought for our country. He made a lot of sacrifices.”
McGee served America in uniform during World War II. He and his brother were taken prisoner by the Japanese army in the Phillippines in 1942 and survived the horrors of the Bataan Death March — a 60-mile forced march during which thousands of American and Filipino prisoners died from starvation, disease, torture and execution.
Following the march, McGee and the survivors of the march were held as prisoners of war for months.
Although McGee escaped imprisonment with his life, his brother, William Douglass McGee, did not.
“He didn’t talk about it much,” Price said. “I think that it was just something that he would rather not talk about.”
Following his liberation, McGee returned to eastern New Mexico, where he married, became a rancher and joined many organizations, including the Elida Methodist Church, the Elida Lion’s Club, the American Legion and the VFW.
“He was a very big supporter of (the VFW),” Price said. “And I know that he is highly missed.”
“It will mean quite a bit (to us),” Moon said. “Because we all remember him as the kind of person he was, and he was a good one.”
A dedication and appreciation dinner for members and their families along with invited guests will be held Friday night at 7 at the VFW Post Canteen.
“It makes me very proud,” Price said. “And I’m very honored to be able to go and see something that dad enjoyed. And I know that he’s smiling down, and he will be proud of it too.”