There are numerous accounts of the origin of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. The most picturesque history of its founding occurred in 1348 by King Edward III when a Lady of the Court lost one of her garters. While bending down to pick it up, she blushed while the crowd laughed. King Edward tied the green garter on his own leg and remarked, “I shall turn it into the most honored garter ever worn.” Another account quotes him as saying, in French, “Shame be he that thinks evil of it.” Chivalry includes a combination of courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help.
The Order became a noble fraternity into which knighthood was bestowed upon those admitted. Over the years they were given the right to add “Sir” before their Christian names. Each member is given a banner that hung in the Chapel at Windsor Castle’s Order of the Garter during their live and removed upon their death. In 1805, the Order was extended to include lineal descendent. Earlier, ladies were received as “honorary members” but this practice died out until Edward VII established a title “Lady of the Garter”. On 23ch year on St. George’s Day, during the ceremonies, members were elaborate robes and gold medallions. In 1990, the Order again admitted women with the Duchess of Norfolk as Ladie’s Companion.
The Women Marines, Turner Publish Company, 1992
The Churchill Society, The Noble Order of the Garter, Cabinet Office, London 2008
In 1972 the 7th Biennial Convention of the Women Marines Association was held in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Loyal Escorts of the Green Garter, nicknamed LEGGS, was established at this convention with 20 charter members. It was the only all-male auxiliary around which changed at the Galveston convention in 1974 when ladies were invited to 'brighten their ranks'. The sole purpose of LEGGS was to assist the Women Marines Association. Its members pledged to aid, assist, and escort WMA members in the performance of their duties as delegates to the convention and other official functions. They were to meet in conjunction with the WMA biennial convention. Later LEGGS provided cash awards to chapters for noteworthy accomplishments. Eventually this became the award streamers given today.
In 1979 the LEGGS established life memberships and enrolled 23 life members in the first two weeks of its availability. The life membership fees constituted a LEGGS scholarship endowment. By unanimous executive board decision, this scholarship, administered by WMA, was designated "The Charles Covert Memorial Scholarship" honoring retired Navy Captain Father Charles. J. Covert who served as permanent Chaplain of LEGGS. Father Covert was also the Chaplain of WMA and the only male member of WMA. He served as Chaplain from 1960 until he retired in the 1970's and passed away in 1979.
In 1980-1982 there was a movement to change the name of the Loyal Escorts of the Green Garter to WMA Auxiliary. The membership defeated the motion saying they wanted to keep the fine tradition of its founding fathers. "The mission of LEGGS is 'to assist members of WMA in the performance of their official duties'….and in so doing, you EARN the right to wear the Green Garter and is a symbol of achievement.
In 1984 the LEGGS became incorporated in the State of Missouri with the assistance of WMA President Virginia Allred. Interestingly here, the Office of the Secretary of State of Missouri pointed out that "LEGGS" was a nickname and not its true name. The Office changed all references to LEGGS to Loyal Escorts of the Green Garter in the paperwork. Also the pantyhose company L'EGGS was also a popular product and so not to infringe upon their copyrighted name, "LEGGS" was dropped in favor of Loyal Escorts or LE's.
Here is a list of all Loyal Escort presidents and when they served:
1972 - 1978 Richard Broe served 6 years
1978 - 1980 Charles Todd served 2 years
1980 - 1982 Charles Allred served 2 years
1982 - 1984 Charles Burkhart served 2 years
1984 - 1986 Earl Blount served 2 years
1986 - 1990 William Burns served 4 years
1990 - 1994 Mary Sousa served 4 years
1994 - 1996 Dick Allred served 2 years
1996 - 2004 Dan Christiansen served 8 years
2004 - 2005 Paul Dossin served 1.5 years
2005 - 2010 Ken Cross served 4.5 years
2010 - 2012 John Holvoet served 1.5 years
2012 - 2012 Donald Cannon served 6 months
2012 - 2018 Michael Pearce served 6 years
2018 - 2021 Isaac Bazile Served 3 years
2021 - 2022 Cheryl Roberts Served for 1 year
2022 - Present - Michael Pearce
Ten presidents and 38 years of history. They all made their mark to improve the Loyal Escorts. Mary Sousa was the 7th president of the LE and the only female to hold that office. Dan Christiansen redesigned the LEGGS flag in favor or a more politically correct flag removing the female legs with garter. Paul Dossin started the research of becoming a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization on the heels of WMA becoming a 501(c)(3).
When Ken Cross took over he continued the effort to become a 501(c)(3) tax exemption organization and in so doing took on the task of revising the bylaws and standing rules. In 2009 the Loyal Escorts achieved that status. Ken also developed a logo for the Loyal Escorts that complimented the Women Marines patch and developed it into its own patch and later had it embroidered on multi-colored shirts. The sale of these shirts to the Loyal Escorts puts money in the Father Covert Scholarship Fund. He enhanced the WMA Memorial Service by adding flags for Loyal Escorts who have passed and having their names read at the service. He is also having a ceramic poker chip designed and made up for distribution and sale. Proceeds will also help the scholarship fund. With the input of John Holvoet they developed a term member renewal postcard system, membership retention increased 80%.
The question was asked, "What are you most proud of in your time as LE President?" Undoubtedly, Ken says, is the time, effort, and expertise of Chuck Ables, LE Secretary/Treasurer for 2008-2010, and with the assistance of Paula Sarlls, who worked diligently on the 501(c)(3) effort. Now the new Board will have the tools to expand the Loyal Escorts to bring them into their full potential.
A lot of credit needs to be given to the 2006 - 2010 Board of Directors for participating in and construction of these many projects. Without their help these projects would not have gotten off the ground. The Board has worked very hard in between conventions. Also, they are the legs and strong arms of the convention: moving, unpacking and packing boxes, setting up and tearing down the stage, escorting, holding the hospitality room, assisting and directing the ladies at the opening ceremony. There is a lot of coordination going on with these functions and they do it beautifully.
A special thanks to Ken Cross, who wrote this History in July of 2010.