South Dakota American Legion elects new State Commander

South Dakota American Legion elects new State Commander Jim Huls of Salem, was elected as the State Commander of The American Legion Department of South Dakota by delegates attending the 90th Annual State Convention of The American Legion in Watertown on Sunday, June 15. Huls emerged victorious over his competition, Ron Kazmierczak of Hill City. Huls was nominated by Past American Legion State Commander Ron Tolrud of White, and his nomination was seconded by Past American Legion State Commander Phil Anderson of Piedmont and Don Tjaden, Commander of the Salem American Legion Post. The American Legion is the largest war-time veteran service organization in South Dakota with over 25,000 members serving in 250 local American Legion Posts across the state. Commander Huls is a 40-year, Paid-Up-For-Life member of Frank J. Brune American Legion Post 140 in Salem. He has held most Post offices; served as Post Vice Commander, Post Commander, Athletic Officer, Historian, Legislative Chairman, Service Officer, Children & Youth Chairman, VAVS Chairman, and is currently serving as the Post Adjutant â�?�? a position he has held since 2002. He served as District 6 Vice Commander in 1988-90, District 6 Commander in 1990-92, State Vice Commander in 1993-94, and was a member of the Department Administrative Committee from 1994-98 and was serving as Chairman of the Department Constitution and Bylaws Committee at the time of his election. Huls was appointed as Department Membership Chairman in 1992 and given a four-year appointment as a member of the Membership Commission. Other Department appointments which he has held include: VAVS Committee member 1981-1988, Chairman of the VAVS Committee in 1985, 1986 and 1988. He has served on several Department Ad-Hoc committees over the years and has served as District Educational Loan Chairman and District VA&R Chairman. Commander Huls is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force where he received a commission through the ROTC program and served 4 1/2 years during the Vietnam era, separating with the rank of Captain. He received his BSME from SDSU, Brookings and is a Registered Professional Engineer. He is a retired manufacturing executive, commercial pilot and a certified flight instructor. Huls has built two experimental aircraft, one in 1996 and the other in 2002. Huls is very active in his community; selected as the Citizen of the Year in Salem in 1986 and was the McCook County Club President in 1988-89. He designed and built the McCook and Hanson County Veterans Memorials and designed and built the McCook Central Boosters Club Stadium with volunteer labor. Jim and his wife Pat have been married for 42 years and have 2 sons (Jim and Chris), 2 daughters (Nancy and Katie) and 4 grandchildren. Pat is a Past District President of the South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary. He belongs to St. Maryâ�?�?s Catholic Church and is a Past Board President, Lector and Eucharist Minister and is a Past President of St. Maryâ�?�?s School Parent Association. In other convention action, the assembled delegates elected five State Vice Commanders for the organization. Those elected included Merle Stone of Wagner, Phillip Konechne of Kimball, Albert Bekaert of Gary, Marvin Denke of Philip and Bob Kusser of Pierre. Newly elected State Commander Huls appointed Warren Aas of Watertown to a two-year appointment as Department Veterans Service Officer; Patrick Lewellen of Spearfish to a one-year term as Department Chaplain; LaVaun Holan of Chamberlain to a one-year term as Department Membership Chairman; and John Dewell of Pierre, Warren Aas of Watertown, and Ron Boyd of Watertown to one-year terms as Department Legislative Representatives. G. D. â�?�?Hootâ�? Gibson of Sioux Falls was re-elected to an additional one-year term as State Master-At-Arms and Gene Schumacher of Aberdeen was re-elected to another one-year term as the State Finance Officer for the organization. Rick MacDonald of Hermosa, Annette Dunham of Iroquois, and Bill Dolan of Beresford were elected as members of The American Legion State Administrative Committee. Jerome Johnson of Garretson was selected as The American Legion Department of South Dakota Legionnaire of the Year at the convention. Johnson is a member of Henry G. Fix American Legion Post 23 in Garretson. The Robert C. Gabrielson Memorial Leadership Award was presented, posthumously, to Dan Walsh of Whitewood. Walsh died in February of this year while serving as District 12 Commander for The American Legion. The Robert C. Gabrielson Memorial Leadership Award is named in the memory of Past American Legion State Commander Robert C. Gabrielson of Hoven. Gabrielson served in numerous leadership capacities for The American Legion at the local Post, District, State and National levels. The award is to recognize one Legionnaire on an annual basis for sustained, superior and inspirational leadership.

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