Lt. Philip Lansdale
Lt. Landsdale Biography (draft) by E. O. Putzman, circa 1924 (pdf 3Mb)
VFW Post 67 is also officially known as Lt. Lansdale Post.
You might ask, “Who the heck is Lt. Lansdale”?
Post 67 is the second oldest VFW Post west of the Mississippi; so, it should not come as a surprise that Lt. Lansdale served in the Spanish American War, the earliest campaign recognized by the VFW. This page will help you understand why Lt. Lansdale was chosen as the Post’s namesake.
Lansdale, Philip Van Horne
Lansdale, born in Washington, D.C., graduated as Passed Midshipman from the Naval Academy on 18 June 1879.
Commissioned as an ensign on 1 June 1881, he served in Asiatic, North Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific deployments. Promoted to lieutenant in 15 May 1893, he became executive officer of the USS Philadelphia upon its recommissioning in San Francisco on 9 July 1898.
After visiting Honolulu for ceremonies which transferred the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Islands to the United States, the Philadelphia, flagship of Rear Admiral Albert Kautz, Commander, Pacific Station, arrived at Apia, Samoa on 6 March 1899.
An unstable political climate, created by rival Samoan factions and German presence, erupted into open hostility that month. A combined American and British naval force sought to keep the peace, but natives attacked American and British consulates late in March.
The Philadelphia was ordered to immediately proceed there. Reaching Apia early in March, the situation was found to be serious; the two rival chieftains, Malietoa and Mataafa, were contending for supremacy. The three signatories to the Berlin Agreement, involving Samoa, the United States, England and Germany, were all represented by warships in the harbor. The decision of the American and English commanders designated Malietoa as king and Mataafa was ordered to disperse his forces, but he defied the order and continued hostilities. Troops from American and English ships were order ashore, and, on the 15th of March, a bombardment began which lasted intermittently for two weeks, but it had only limited effect because the enemy took refuge in the jungle.
On April 1st, a joint effort was made by the allied land forces with Lieutenant Lansdale of the Philadelphia commanding the American forces with which Ensign Monaghan was also serving. The march was through a dense jungle area, where a large number of Mataafa’s men waited in ambush.
The following account of this encounter was given:
“Under a deadly fire which could not be replied to with advantage, especially as the only piece of artillery (a Colt automatic gun) brought by the marines had become disabled, a retreat was sounded. While this was in progress Lansdale received a wound in the leg, shattering the bone. In the confusion of the retreat he had been left in the rear, with only Monaghan and three or four privates. He was carried some distance, when one of the privates was shot to death, and soon afterward the others fled, leaving Monaghan alone with him. Although urged repeatedly by Lansdale to save himself (as testified by the last of the men to leave), he steadily refused and stood his ground, awaiting assistance. Presently others who had been in the rear came up and in their turn departed. The next day the bodies of Lansdale and Monaghan were found lying together in the jungle.”
Captain White of the Philadelphia in his official report wrote: ‘It is in evidence most clear that when Ensign Monaghan discovered that Lieutenant Lansdale was wounded he used his best endeavors to convey him to the rear and seizing a rifle from a disabled man made a brave defense; but undoubtedly he fell very shortly after joining Lansdale, and the hostiles, flushed with success, bore down on our men in this vicinity. The men were not in sufficient numbers to hold out any longer and they were forced along by a fire which it was impossible to withstand.”
Local Draft Biography
Check out the draft the Lt. Lansdale Biography written by E. O. Putzman circa 1924. The original is on file in the Post 67 Archives; the document was scanned and converted to a PDF file and is available on our website’s “100 Years Archives” page.
Last US Navy Rank: Lieutenant
Last Navy Duty Station: 1898-1899, USS Philadelphia(C-4)
US Navy Service Years: 1879 – 1899
Unofficial US Navy Certificates: Decommissioning, Plank Owner
Place of Rest: Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, CA
Lansdale’s Nasal Vessels
Lt. Lansdale served on this ship during his final campaign:
USS Philadelphia (C-4) 1890-1902
The Dept. of the Navy commissioned three ships in his honor:
USS Lansdale (DD-101) 1919-1931
USS Lansdale (DD-426) 1940-1944
USS Lansdale (DD-766) 1946-1958