The American Legion Auxiliary National President Peggy Thomas and the American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz Jr. will visit the Department of Delaware during two separate visits in March. Both officials will be attending luncheons hosted by the American Legion Post 28 family to include the Legion, Auxiliary, Sons of the Legion and the Legion Riders.
Thomas will be the luncheon honoree at the March 1 event hosted by American Legion Auxiliary Department of Delaware President Dolores Taylor and Unit 28 President Tina Washington. Koutz will be the luncheon guest of American Legion Department of Delaware Commander James Brady and Post 28 Commander Jim Gallagher March 8. That evening, he will also attend a dinner at Walter L. Fox Post 2 in Dover.
Thomas joined the American Legion Auxiliary through her late husband, John C. Thomas, a U.S. Army veteran. She is the first national president from Virginia since Anna Gear in 1983-84. Thomas, a 31-year member of the Auxiliary, has held numerous leadership positions in the organization at the unit, district and department levels. At the national level, she served as vice president and as chair of the following committees: Veteran Affairs & Rehabilitation, Children & Youth, Leadership, National Security, Constitution & Bylaws, Poppy, Legislative and Membership.
She has served her Virginia department as president, secretary and chair of a variety of committees including the Advisory Committee for 10 years. Thomas served Auxiliary Unit 144 as president twice and as secretary, and Unit 137 as president. She has held all chairmanships in both units.
A retired vice president of a petroleum distributorship with three divisions, Thomas continues the American Legion Auxiliary motto of Service Not Self by volunteering as the Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service deputy at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VAMC in Richmond, Va. She was listed in “Who’s Who in Women in Business.” Thomas has one married daughter, Lisa, and is currently a member of Lutheran Church of Our Savior, National Association of Parliamentarians, and the Bellwood Defense Supply Women, and vice president of M. Stanley Ryan Unit of Parliamentarians.
James E. Koutz of Boonville, Ind., was elected national commander of the 2.4-million-member American Legion Aug. 30, 2012 in Indianapolis, during the 94th national convention of the nation’s largest veterans organization.
A Vietnam War veteran, he entered the U.S. Army in August 1969. He was honorably discharged with the rank of specialist 5 in March 1971 and quickly joined the American Legion. He is a member of Boonville Post 200 where his father, George, was a World War II veteran and a past commander of the post. Jim Koutz was honored as a life member of his post in 1991 and served as its post commander for nine years.
Koutz retired from the Amax Coal Company in 1995 after 21 years of service. He was appointed by the Warrick County commissioners in January 1995 as service officer for the Warrick County Veterans Affairs Office. The governor of Indiana appointed him commissioner of the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2005, where he served as president of that commission in 2007. In January 2009, he was appointed to serve four more years.
Koutz has held elected and appointed offices in the American Legion at the post, county, district, department and national levels. As Indiana State American Legion commander, he achieved an all-time-high membership during his tenure in 1990-91. At the national level, he served on the Foreign Relations Commission and as chairman of both the Economics and Legislative Commissions.
He was awarded the State of Indiana Council of the Sagamore of the Wabash in 1991 by former Gov. Evan Bayh and recognized for outstanding community achievement of Vietnam veterans by President Jimmy Carter. He received the Elks Distinguished Citizenship Award from the Grand Lodge of Order of the Elks and Boonville Elks Lodge No. 1180.
Koutz and his wife, Vickie, have one son, Michael, who works for Disney in Orlando, Fla. Michael is a charter member of Boonville Sons of the American Legion Squadron 200; Vickie is a past unit, district and department American Legion Auxiliary president and is also a member of the Sons of the American Legion. They reside in Boonville, Ind.