When the World War II Last Man's Club of the Lehighton American Legion was founded more than 60 years ago, there were 323 members. Club President Frank Bayer said death has decimated the ranks in recent years.

Today, there are only 52 members.

Since last year, nine members have passed away.

Yesterday afternoon, 16 members attended the annual gathering of the club, held every Pearl Harbor Day. The attendance was about half the total who attended last year.

Before the Last Man's Club program, a special Pearl Harbor remembrance observance was held at the World War II monument along Sgt. Stanley Hoffman Boulevard (Route 209) in Lehighton.

Bayer participated in that program. He assisted Glenn Troutman, chairman of the Lehighton United Veterans Organization, with the ceremonial laying of the wreath at the monument. He handed the wreath to Troutman, who placed it at the monument.

Taking part in both events was the Lehighton UVO Color Guard. The Color Guard had a gun salute at the monument, then another as part of the opening ceremony for the Last Man's Club gathering at the Legion Post.

Bugler Henry Long played "Taps" at both programs.

Among the nine members of the Last Man's Club who have died since last year, secretary-treasurer George I. LaRose was included.

To belong to the Last Man's Club, you had to serve in World War II and to have joined the club as a charter member.

Bayer noted there no longer are speakers at their annual gatherings. The event serves mostly as a social gathering for the Greatest Generation members.

"We did away with speakers a number of years ago," Bayer said.

Dropping in on the Last Man's Club event was newly-elected Judge Steve Serfass and his son, Ben, 8. Serfass said Ben is studying World War II in school, so he brought him there to meet veterans who served.

Several of the club members shook hands with Ben and spoke briefly about the war.

All branches of the military were represented at yesterday's event.

Bayer served in the Navy aboard a destroyer in both the European and Pacific theaters.

Asked what he remembers most about his time spent in the military, he responded, "The end of the war."

The program opened with invocation by James Wentz, Lehighton UVO chaplain.