By: Jim Gates, Department Commander

TWTWTW (TW3) Revisited

If you are part of my generation that served in the military during the 1960’s you might remember the British Satire TW3 that ran in 1962 and 1963 and hosted by David Frost. It was known as THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS (TW3) and made an attempt at recreating public events, rather tongue-in-cheek, of world events from the week just ended.

Having been given a one-day window (read as deadline) to submit my Commanders Call thoughts for THE OBSERVER (between trips on behalf of The Department of Colorado) I could only smile and think of MY busy week just ended and muse, “Wow, that was SOME week”!

Our National Commander, Jim Koutz and his Aide, Steve Short, of Indiana were scheduled to arrive in Colorado on April 14th for a full week of travel around the front range for a “Veterans Memorial” tour, culminating in a trip to Indianapolis for the National Oratorical Contest. And,

those of us who planned the Colorado portion of this event-packed week wanted to make sure OUR National Commander was absolutely going to see some one-of-a-kind things ( and events) he surely wouldn’t take in anywhere else! Also, along for the tour was my wife Judy; Darrell Myers, Department Photographer; and Department Adjutant Pat Smith. By the time we got all of us and our personal belongings into the Department Van, we resembled a Dust Bowl caravan departing for the west coast.

 MEMORABLE HIGHLIGHTS OF APRIL 14-21 2013:

Sunday, April 14th: On arrival at DIA, our National Commander was given an honor guard reception at his arrival gate by DIA TSA Post 322 Honor Guard. Post Commander Jim Otto said their Post was one of a kind, based at an international airport and made up of nearly all TSA employees.

Monday, April 15th: in a raging white-out snowstorm, the caravan ventured to Ft. Collins for a visit to the Veterans Memorial Plaza and lunch at Post 4. That afternoon: a visit to Longmont, for dinner at Post 32. Tops on the list of stops along the way, was an invitation to view Longs Peak Middle School’s “Veterans Mural and Wall of Heroes”! On hand to greet our Commander was School Principal Matt Buchler, and two students who served as docents. Principal Buchler recently accepted an award from UVC of Colorado at its annual banquet, honoring the school for its continued community patriotism! Commander Koutz related that he had never seen anything quite like it, in ANY school he had ever visited!

Tuesday, April 16th: We visited the HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen) Treatment Center in Louisville, one of only 3 of its type in the United States. We were received warmly by the staff and one of the patients receiving treatment there. The patient was eventually readied for his next treatment, which we observed for a time before leaving for Colorado Springs and lunch at Post 209. That afternoon we visited Ft. Carson to meet some of our brave soldiers at the WTU – Warrior Transition Unit and the Army Command responsible for its operation. Commander Koutz was given special recognition for his donation of $6,500 in items from his OPERATION COMFORT WARRIOR (OCW) project. Dinner was hosted by Post 5 that evening.

Wednesday, April 17th: We visited The Crawford House in Colorado Springs, a local halfway house with a high veteran population which is maintained primarily through local funding and other donations. Lunch was at Post 2 in Pueblo, followed up by a visit to The Center for American Values in downtown Pueblo, along the River Walk Center. Thank you Post 170 for your offer to host a dinner that evening, but due to heavy snowfall in the area we were forced to cancel.

Thursday, April 18th: Leaving Colorado Springs after an overnight snow, we stopped at The United States Air Force Academy to view the Carillion Tower and American Legion re-dedication memorial at the Cemetery. Arriving back in Denver around mid-day, Judy and I left for home to re-pack and head to DIA for our trip to Indianapolis to help staff the annual Oratorical Contest. Commander Koutz was scheduled to visit the VA Replacement Hospital construction site, The Fisher House and Fitzsimmons Nursing Home, followed up by dinner at Post 1.

 Friday, April 19th: The Day was spent greeting arrivals to the Oratorical Contest at our Indianapolis hotel and conference site as they trickled in from the airport. Commander Koutz and Aide took this day to catch up on their needs and then were hosted at Post 23 for dinner.

Saturday, April 20th: The Quarter-Final and Semi-Final Oratorical Contests were underway as Commander Koutz was heading back to Indianapolis from Colorado. That evening, Judy and I were invited to a private reception and dinner for the Oratorical Finals Judges where we again met up with Commander Koutz who by that time had his wife Vicki by his side. Also in attendance at the dinner from Colorado were Ralph Bozella, Chairman of the National VA&R Commission and Mike Moss, second leading candidate for Commander, Sons of the American Legion. Hosting the dinner were American Legion national staff and members (myself included) of the National Americanism Commission.

Sunday, April 21st: The three finalists from the semi-final Oratorical Contests of the preceding day drew for speaking order and then proceeded to wow the audience with their speeches.

First Place winner was Agnes Rieger a high school senior from Kansas City, MO. Taking Second Place, and hailing from Goose Creek, SC was Elizabeth Scannell, a high school senior.

Coming in with Third Place honors was Rachael Schartz of Humbolt, SD. Following up the contest was a banquet held in their honor at the conference center. And, just like that, the week was almost over. We departed for home later in the day and arrived safely at about 10:30 PM.

Our National Commander conveys his gratitude for the contributions made to his OCW project fund from the Department of Colorado. I convey MY gratitude for your generosity! I was able to see, personally, the good that OCW is doing first-hand.

And that, fellow Legionnaires, was TW3! As I wrap up this commentary, I am now taking one day to prepare for departure for Houston, TX, 2013 National Convention site to help establish and coordinate the Department of Colorado’s hotel and meeting site criteria. Until next time, then, that’s my CALL!