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Michigan American Legion Department Heads to Attend Local Post Event

Michigan American Legion Department Heads to Attend Local Post Event


By Dominic R. Merlington

American Legion Post #287 in Cedar Springs is proud to welcome the State Commanders and Presidents to our home for the annual Early Bird Dinner. The dinner is held the first week in January to show our appreciation to the members of our Post, Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion who have paid their dues by Veterans Day of the previous fall.  It is our tradition to invite the leaders of our state to attend this event. It is also our tradition to give them each a set of Red Flannels. In the past it was given to prepare them for the Upper Peninsula trip which usually follows directly after our dinner, in an attempt to keep them warm during the cold and often snowy conditions of the UP in January.  The past presidents and commanders all bring the red flannels they were given during their year and put them on so they can all dance together in their red flannel finery.

Barry Wood

This year the American Legion Commander for the State of Michigan is Barry Wood. Commander Wood was born in Grand Rapids and graduated from Hastings High School. He served four years in the Navy as a military intelligence collector and analyst, leaving the Navy at the rank of Petty Officer Second Class.  After leaving the Navy Commander Wood earned two associate degrees from Kellogg Community College and went to work for the E.W. Bliss Company until 1973 when the economic effects of the oil embargo contributed to a career change.  In 1973, Commander Wood reenlisted in the U.S. Army, in the military intelligence field.  He served in the enlisted ranks for seven years until being commissioned as a chief warrant officer.  He retired as a Chief Warrant Officer 3 in 1989.  He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in public administration.  In 1995, Commander Wood was elected to the Hastings City Council where he served for 18 years.  A member of the council at the time introduced the Commander to the American Legion, and in 2000 he joined the Hastings Post 45.  Since then he has served in many officer positions in the post, district, zone, and department.  Commander Wood is married to Margaret; they have two daughters and two grandchildren.  

Georgia Downs

The President for the American Legion Auxiliary for the State of Michigan is Georgia Downs. Georgia became eligible to join the American Legion Auxiliary through the service of her deceased father, Kenneth P. Carlson, who served in World War II.  She has been a member for 22 years, and has had the opportunity to chair many committees at the Unit, District and Department level. Georgia has held the Department offices of Historian, Chaplain, Second Vice President and First Vice President.  She has been a volunteer at Girls State for six years. She is a strong supporter of all of our programs.  She raised her family in Westerville, Ohio and moved back to Michigan in 1990. She has multiple designations and degrees in insurance and brings strong managerial skills in customer service/sales. She sat on the Boards of her local township for 10 years, secretary for the Zoning Board two years and Board of Review for eight years. Georgia retired from Greenridge Real Estate in 2012 after 23 years in the industry. 

Mike Holley

The Commander for the Sons of The American Legion, Detachment of Michigan, is Mike Holley. His eligibility for the Sons was through the service of his father Earl, who served in the Korean War Conflict.  He passed away in 2001.  His mother June has 63 years in the American Legion Auxiliary.  His brother has over 40 years and a sister with over 50 years of service to the American Legion Family – so you could say without a doubt he comes from a Legion family.  At the squadron level, Mike has served at most all positions.  On the state, or Detachment level, he has been Historian, 3rd Zone Commander, and is currently on the Boys State Committee as well as Youth Career Law Enforcement Chairman at 20 plus years of service.

Leah Daniels

Also joining us will be the Honorary Department Junior President Leah Daniels.  She joined as a child under her father.  She has been active in her Junior Auxiliary Unit #377 and her District #18 since then.  She has served all of the offices in both.  She is currently the Junior President for both.  She has helped with many activities for both, which includes Poppy Days, Children’s Parties, helping out at Post Unit and District functions, The Homeless Veterans Facility, SAL dinners, Nursing Home Visits, Shopping for needy families at Thanksgiving and Christmas, going and supporting various Patriotic Events, participating in Parades on Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Mint Parade, Showboat Parade, Veterans Day Parade, Holiday Parade, helping to promote and raise money for various charity events and many other events.

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