RALPH T. O'NEIL, HARRY W. COLMERY and HARRY G. WILES
Ralph Thomas O'Neil (1888-1940) was National Commander of the American Legion for the term of 1930–1.
The hospital was rededicated on May 16, 1981, as the Colmery- O'Neil Veterans Administration Medical Center.
The campaign to rename the hospital was started to honor the two Topeka lawyers, Harry W. Colmery and Ralph T. O'Neil, who had been active in veterans affairs and had served as national commander of the American Legion, O'Neil in 1930-31 and Colmery in 1936-37.
In a speech before the U.S. Senate in 1980, Sen. Bob Dole, R- Kan., urged the Topeka hospital be renamed to honor them. He referred to Colmery "as one of the principal drafters of the GI Bill of Rights and one who has spent much of his life orchestrating veteran benefits programs."
Colmery was 88 when he died.
O'Neil's work on behalf of veterans led to congressional approval of 8,000 additional hospital beds in the VA system.
He died at 51 after a heart attack.
Colmery was a pilot and O'Neil an infantry captain, both in World War I.
These photos were provided to our Post by L.C. Workman and show the Topeka American Legion Drum & Bugle Corp at a Salina convention in 1952
Thank you Mr. Workman
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