National commander visits Boys State

National commander visits Boys State
National American Legion Commander Thomas L. Bock visited Boys State June 1.

State Commander Phil Anderson gave Boys Staters a short biography of Bock's life, which included many Legion honors and being a Blue Star Dad, with a son in the Army.

As Bock strode to the podium, everyone gave him a big South Dakota welcome, including boisterous clapping and a standing ovation. As he began, he said he was here last year.

"You campaign two years to serve a one-year term?" he said jokingly of his tenure as national Legion commander.

Bock has visited all 50 states on the campaign trail, and now in his ninth month in office has visited 40 states.

"Just 10 more and I'll get them done before my term ends," Bock said.

He has also visited Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Korea, the European Legion, France and many more areas. When he went to Iraq he saw the Predator, as well as the F16s and many other Army devices.

"There is a 96 percent chance you're going to survive the wounds now," referring to the military's emergency medical care system.

He asked soldiers over there if he had the power to do anything, what would they want him to do. Number one on their list was high-speed Internet.

"They are on dial-up and it's just too slow for them," Bock said.

Second was NASCAR books. "You know, they go fast, and turn left," as he began to tell a story about a race he just attended.

As the night progressed, Bock talked about the difference between a mess hall and dining facilities, making several references to both throughout the night.

Bock has met the president three times, the vice president twice, and all the cabinet officers at least once, one-on-one. When he was with the president the second time in the White House, photographers were snapping pictures. Bock leaned in to the president and said, "Mr. President, I apologize. I'm sorry for all that. It happens to me every where I go."

The president proceeded to laugh until the commander brought up the war in Iraq.

Bock also talked about how on Veteran's Day at Arlington National Cemetery, the Veterans Affairs chairman, the vice president and he all were talking about hunting.

When asked which is the best state he has visited, Bock said "South Dakota of course!" and got a standing ovation.

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