The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

Real Service Is a Beacon of Hope

On May 15th, 2017, posted in: Uncategorized by

row of lockersYou will not have heard of this outstanding gentleman. His name is Philip W. Eldred, and what he did just over 75 years ago defines service. We talk about service with varying degrees of definition. Service is a relative term, meaning different things to different people, but every once in a while, we can all agree there is an example that stands atop all others. When we see real service, it stands out as a beacon of hope.

That was the case just over 75 years ago at Hickam Field, at the time the largest airbase of its kind. As you might imagine, this was no small operation. Hickam Field was the home of many large hangars used in the traditional sense — filled with countless airplanes and the like. One hangar was nontraditional in that tucked in the corner was a small credit union — Hawaiian Air Depot Federal Credit Union.

It was a convenient place to meet with members. The records were kept in a safe and two large steel lockers (think carpenter’s chests). Friday was a payday. As a result, both Friday and Saturday up until noon had a flurry of activity. In the day, credit unions were pretty plain in their offerings, so making deposits and loan payments occupied the better part of the day. Old-school passbooks were used to record all the debits and credits, and with no such thing as online, the books were collected and would be hand-posted with the intent of redistribution a few days later.

The next day, Sunday, was December 7, 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field shocked our country on that quiet Hawaiian morning. P.W. Eldred was the treasurer of the credit union, lived near the airfield, saw the attack commence and made a desperate attempt to reach the credit union office and remove the records. He died that morning, riddled with machine-gun bullets while running toward the hangar. The small credit union office was destroyed shortly thereafter with a stick of 100-pound bombs.

I think a lot about service. We are here to serve one another. There are many credit union volunteers across this great country.  They signed up for their role, just as P.W. Eldred did, in order to bring a better way of life to the members of their respective credit unions.

St. Louis Community Credit Union has 11 longtime volunteers who serve our members every day. While running a credit union today is much more difficult than a safe, a couple of steel lockers and a handful of passbooks, it is no less rewarding to stay focused on providing for our members and their needs.

We serve each other to make our members’ lives better. P.W. Eldred did so with the ultimate sacrifice.

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