Valley veterans, veterans' families and community members gathered Sunday at the Sayre Veterans of Foreign Wars post to bid farewell to post commander Harry Earley.

Earley, who at 93 is the oldest currently active post commander in the United States, will relocate to North Carolina to live with family due to declining health, members said.

Born and raised in New York City, Earley enlisted in the United States Army in 1939 and served as an infantry soldier in the 158th Combat Team, known as the "Bushmasters," according to information provided by the VFW.

Earley earned multiple awards and medals during his service, most notably the Combat Infantryman Badge, awarded to infantrymen who fought in active ground combat. Following World War II, he returned to New York, then retired to the Valley area, where he began a long and notable period of service with the Sayre VFW.

During his nearly 35-year stint in the VFW, Earley was commander of the post for four terms, quartermaster for 20 terms, district commander for three terms and district quartermaster for 10 terms.

Earley has been a fixture at Veterans Day, Flag Day and Memorial Day ceremonies, at parades and veterans' funerals, at schools talking to children about veterans and the American flag, and selling poppies throughout the Valley during the VFW's annual Buddy Poppy donation drives, members said.

"I don't think that you could find one active member of this post who hasn't learned something from Harry," said Ed McDonald, former post commander and quartermaster and current post trustee. "He was a great trainer for many of us."

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: arenko@thedailyreview.com.