American Legion Post 62 in Craig elects new commander
Longtime post leader stepping down after lengthy tenure in position
Results of the leadership election Tuesday for the Mark Anthony Evans-Lawton American Legion Post 62 in Craig:
• Jake Garcia — elected commander
• Bill White — re-elected senior vice commander
• Ed Wilkinson — elected junior vice commander
• Dave Walters — re-elected adjutant
• Brian Baxter — elected finance officer
• Randy Klein — elected chaplain
• Ken Davis — re-elected sergeant at arms
— New leaders assume positions July 1.
Mel Shockley has served as commander of the Mark Anthony Evans-Lawton American Legion Post 62 for the better part of a decade.
“Seven years and three months,” Shockley said. “A pretty long run.”
But, all things must end someday, and Shockley is slated to retire from the position July 1.
On Tuesday, during its June board meeting, the American Legion elected a new commander — Jake Garcia — along with several other leaders.
The American Legion, a national nonprofit organization, was chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1919 as a veterans organization. The Craig chapter was founded in 1929.
Garcia, 64, served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1968.
“I never left the country, but I was posted all over the U.S.,” he said.
Afterward, Garcia served an additional nine years in the National Guard.
Garcia worked at Tri-State Generation & Transmission in Craig for 18 years, retiring at age 60.
“I helped build that plant from the ground up many, many years ago,” he said.
Garcia said he has been a member of the American Legion for 12 years. He explained his bid for the commander’s position.
“Well, I’ve been a member for a long time,” Garcia said. “Mel wanted to get out and nobody else wanted to run for it, so I ran for it and I got elected.”
Shockley said he’ll remain involved at the post.
“I will still be active with helping out the new commander on a daily basis for the first month or so,” he said. “And I will remain active in the post as a member, and doing anything I can to help.”
Under Shockley’s leadership, the post grew its ranks and assets.
“When I took over, I think we had 12 or 15 members and we were meeting at the First Christian Church,” he said. “Now, we have our own building — our own post home — and we now have around 100 (members).
“I feel good about what I’ve accomplished. I feel I’m stepping down having accomplished a great deal for the post.”
Garcia said continuing to grow the American Legion’s ranks will be his priority. In addition, the organization will continue its community service work, which includes providing scholarships for area high school students, sponsoring Boy Scout troops and more.
Shockley said his retirement from the position is a mixed blessing.
“Believe it or not, being a commander is a very time-consuming job. I was here five or six days a week from 7:30 a.m. until 5, 6 or 7 p.m.
So, a break is in order,” he said.
On the other hand, Shockley said he’ll miss the job.
“It’s kept me active,” he said. “And, truthfully, it may have helped keep me alive, you know what I’m saying?”
During retirement, Shockley hopes to remain busy. He plans to do plenty of camping and fishing.
“I think the camper will be up at the lake a lot,” he said with a laugh. “Mama can come up on the weekends and visit because I’m retired and she isn’t.”
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 hosted its election during May’s board meeting. One new leader was elected, commander Mark Wick said.
Johnny Garcia, no relation to Jake Garcia, was elected junior vice commander.
Other leadership positions remain the same. Those positions are commander Wick, quartermaster Larry Neu and senior vice commander Dave Walters.