Bing Ventres is the Commander Emeritus of Post 86. He was born in New Canaan, graduating high school there in 1950. Prior to graduation, in 1949, Bing and 14 of his classmates joined the Air National Guard unit in Milford. The unit conducted basic and advanced training for the enlistees at the base located at what was then known as Milford Point (long since removed).

The unit was designated the 103rd Aircraft Control and Warning (ACW) Squadron and was under the control of the state (similar to the National Guard). The mission of this unit was radar control in the air over the Northeast part of the U.S. They were among the first ACW units to use the new radar technology to scan for low-flying aircraft over the water.

Bing was trained in vehicle maintenance, working on vehicles such as Jeeps, 4-by-4, 1.5- and 2.5-ton vehicles. He also learned to maintain smaller equipment, such as the self-contained diesel generators, essential for running electricity in the field.

Almost immediately after high school graduation, the Korean War broke out on June 25, 1950. The 103rd ACW was activated to federal duty and ordered to Otis Air Force Base (AFB) on Cape Cod. While there, they were twice “geared up” to deploy to Korea, only to be ordered to “stand down” at the last minute. Bing remained at Otis AFB during his service, training and maintaining vehicles and equipment.

Soon after Bing joined the Air Guard, the Army Air Corps became The United States Air Force, a separate branch of the military (Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines). This included everything from the change of the uniforms they wore, to the change of the names of enlisted ranks. Bing was eventually promoted into the rank of sergeant before he left the service.

After his honorable discharge, Bing had two job offers: as a police officer in the New Canaan Police Department, or a technician with Home Oil Company, in New Canaan. He decided to go to work with Home Oil, as the pay was better and his military training would be a plus. He worked as an HVAC technician, which eventually led to his becoming the service manager for Home Oil, from which he retired after 42 years. He also served as a lieutenant in the New Canaan Auxiliary Special Police.

Bing joined American Legion Post 86 in 1958, and is currently the second-longest serving member of the Post at 62 years. He has served as finance officer, adjutant, and for 24 years was Post 86 Commander. Bing began the annual Flag Retirement Ceremony at the post, as well as formalizing the Veterans Day Parade and Ceremony. He has also sat on the Memorial Day Parade Committee for many years.

Bing married Joan Vion, a Wilton native and a town clerk for many years, in 1955. They have two daughters, Wendy and Tammy, and two granddaughters.

Thank you for your service, Bing!