By: Jim Gillis, Department Commander

The American Legion Department of Colorado Mid-Year Conference January 27 through January 29, 2012 was a great success.

This year we tried a different approach to the Conference, we shared the meeting and meals between the Plaza Hotel and Longmont Post 32. This went very well and Longmont Post 32 deserves a Great Thanks for all the work and effort they put into making the meetings, meals and entertainment go over so well. A special thanks to the kitchen workers and especially to the Young Marines who served the meals and looked after all the tables.

There was a great turn out of Legion Members from all over our great State. I want to thank everyone for attending and taking part in the Conference. The Conference started Thursday, January 27, at 1:00 p.m. with our Department Executive Committee meeting at Longmont Post 32.

On Friday evening the Legion hosted the 4th Annual Army Troop Induction Ceremony. Lt. Col. Dionne Wilson, Commander, Denver Army Recruiting Battalion, was Master of Ceremonies for 110 new recruits taking their “Oath of Enlistment” into the Army. The induction was conducted by Major General Steven Best, United State Army Reserve, (Retired). To close the Ceremonies, the Signing of The Community Covenant was conducted. The Ceremony was followed by refreshments.

Following the Troop Induction Longmont Post # 32 hosted The American Legion Family Night, “Minute-To-Win-It” benefit program to raise money for the Fisher House Project. This was a great evening and many thanks to Chris Harvey and all those who helped her.

On Saturday at 9:00 a.m. was the Joint Opening Session at the Plaza Hotel. The American Legion Riders Posted the Colors followed by Invocation by Department Chaplain Tim Grabin. The Opening Session was Called to Order by Commander, Jim Gillis; Auxiliary President, Rhonda Larkowski and Sons of the Legion Commander, Scott Garrett.

Guest speakers were; Joy Weyna-King from the Aurora Fisher House; Brandon Shaffer, Colorado State Senator; Dan Dellinger, Candidate for Legion National Commander; Bob Caudell, Deputy Director, National Child Welfare Foundation and Chris Huntzinger, Candidate for National Commander, Sons of The Legion.

At this point the Joint Session ended and the Legion, Auxiliary and Sons of the Legion broke into their own separate sessions.

Legion Separate Session Committee chairpersons briefed on their different programs and especially the Americanism and Youth programs that are so important. This was followed by the Membership Awards Presentation. Awards were presented to recognize and thank our many outstanding Districts and Posts that are putting that extra effort and are doing an outstanding job in their Membership Programs.

The very popular Past Commanders Club Lunch was held at the Plaza Hotel and attended by many. The PCC agreed that in the future they would get more involved in Legion programs and take on a more supporting role for our youth programs.

Saturday afternoon the first session was a two-hour Legion College training on American Legion topics that are very important to all Legion members. The session was headed by Lou Brackett. Richard Humphrey and Paul Talafuse presenting the training topics. It was a great training session, thank you. This was followed by many Legion Program breakout sessions.

After missing last year the very popular Jeff Luginbuel Media Awards Banquet was held at Post 32. The start of the Banquet meal had to be delayed a short time while more tables were set up to handle all the people attending.

Pat Smith was Masters Of Ceremonies. Many special Media Awards were announced by Darrell Myers, the Department Public Relations Committee Chairman and presented by Commander Jim Gillis. Many thanks go out to Darrell for the outstanding job he did in putting the Public Relations Awards together. The Public Relations Awards ceremony is covered by Darrell Myers in a separate article.

The Banquet was followed by a very lovely evening of music and dancing.

Sunday morning Post 32 as always provided a lovely breakfast.

The Conference was closed by the Joint Memorial Service lead by Department Chaplin, Tim Grabin. THE FOUR CHAPLAINS SERVICE – Chaplain George L. Fox – Protestant Presenter – Susie Bozella- Chaplain Alexander D. Goode – Jewish Presenter – Harry McFadden – Chaplain Johnny P. Washington – Catholic Presenter – Marty Malkin – Chaplain Clark V. Poling – Protestant Presenter – Rick Baldessari – Benediction – Auxiliary Chaplain Susie Bozella.

An outstanding Conference and many thanks to those whose hard work made it happen. Department: Pat Smith, Tom Bock Elaine Bock, and Amy Grubb. Auxiliary: Rhonda Larkowski and her officers. SAL: Scott Garrett and his officers. And, Longmont Post 32 Commander Carl Belcamino, Bob Larkowski, the kitchen staff and the Young Marines.