National leader pays Los Alamos a visit

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Top commander spent three days in New Mexico

By Carol A. Clark

Excitement mounted as word spread through American Legion Post 90 on Trinity Drive that National Commander Clarence Hill was arriving any moment.

“We’re really pretty honored to have our national commander visit us here in Los Alamos today because the national American Legion supports literally millions of veterans,” Local Commander Cooper said Thursday afternoon. “Our local organization has 500 members between 250 active military veterans, the American Legion Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion. We do a lot of charitable work and support sports activities at the high school. Having Commander Hill here is real special.”

Elected national commander of the 2.5 million-member American Legion in August, Hill explained his trip here is part of his larger plan to visit posts in all 55 “departments,” including one for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines.

Hill arrived in New Mexico Monday from Connecticut. He stopped at posts in Alameda Monday and Las Vegas, Conches Dam and Clovis Tuesday. Hill greeted veterans at another post in Clovis Wednesday as well as posts in Roswell, Tularosa and Elephant Butte.

“I was in Albuquerque last night and visited posts there this morning before stopping in the Jemez and then coming here this afternoon,” Hill said, adding that he would stop in Santa Fe after leaving Los Alamos and then catch an early morning flight from Albuquerque to Massachusetts Friday.  

“Two of my main goals for the legion during my year in office are to have a growth year … and to get the legion into the Internet in a big way and by that I mean to have a presence on the social networks,” Hill said. “I made 1,200 tweets since my election in August and 28 tweets since arriving in New Mexico Monday. Every time I send a tweet it hits Twitter, Facebook and the Web site.”

He planned to send out tweets and upload photos of Los Alamos as soon as he left town around 4 p.m.

A Legionnaire for 27 years, Hill is a life member and three-time commander of Post 316 in Atlantic Beach, Fla. He was commissioned from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1972, having earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a history major. He served 19 of the following 24 years on sea duty and retired as a captain in 1996.

Hill holds two master’s degrees, one from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and the other from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.

The American Legion is a grassroots, issues oriented organization. It does not endorse candidates but rather lobbies for veterans. Hill testified before congress, spent 30 minutes discussing veterans’ issues with President Barack Obama and intends to meet with all 435 members of congress and

100 senators or their veterans’ representatives before his term ends.