Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Boonville Resident to Helm Legion ; Koutz Named National Leader

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Boonville Resident to Helm Legion ; Koutz Named National Leader

Article excerpt

James E. Koutz said it's an honor to be the first Hoosier in more than 30 years to lead the 2.4-million member American Legion. Koutz, 62, a member of Boonville, Ind., Post 200 and an Army Vietnam veteran, was chosen unanimously Thursday afternoon by delegates to the Legion's 94th National Convention in Indianapolis to serve as the group's national commander.

"It's pretty special," Joe March, national director of public relations at The American Legion national headquarters, said of Koutz's win.

"I didn't think I'd ever get to be here, no, but somehow I ended up here," Koutz said. "I always was interested in it, but I didn't think I was ever going to make it."

He was pleased with the turnout of the convention and said about five countries were represented between 50 departments. Koutz said probably 25,000 people were in Indianapolis for the event.

The American Legion is a wartime veterans organization established in 1919, March said, and any veteran who served during a time of war - World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan - is eligible to join.

The Legion is special to Koutz because he said it's important to care for veterans in any way possible.

Koutz joined the Army in August 1969 and reported to Vietnam the following January for an extended tour of duty with Company C of the 169th Engineer Battalion. He was discharged with the rank of Specialist 5 in March 1971. Upon his discharge, Koutz joined The American Legion. His father, George, was a World War II veteran and a past commander of Boonville Post 200. Koutz was honored as a life member of his hometown post in 1991.

After 21 years, Koutz retired from the Amax Coal Co. in 1995 and was appointed service officer for the Warrick County Veterans Affairs office that year.

Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed Koutz to the Indiana Veterans Affairs Commission in 2005. …

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