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WF's Wieser Willson helps make history at American Legion, Post 2

Elections at the North Dakota American Legion's Gilbert C. Grafton Post 2, in Fargo, brought historic changes this month. For the first time in the post's 91-year history, women veterans will hold the top three leadership positions.

Linda Whaley, Fargo, was elected commander of the post and its nearly 1,200 members. Whaley has served in numerous roles in the legion since joining 13 years ago.

Whaley has worked as a receptionist for Goldmark Property Management for 20 years. She and her husband live in north Fargo.

Two of the three vice commanders elected this month also are women. Cathy Keogh, Fargo, was elected first vice commander, and Amy Wieser Willson, West Fargo, was named second vice commander. Both serve on the Department's Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Committee, which is responsible for the Courage Carries On campaign that is raising awareness of PTSD and suicide among veterans.

Wieser Willson has been a legion member since 2008 and was recently named North Dakota's Legionnaire of the Year.

Rick Morales, Moorhead, will serve as the third vice commander. He joined the American Legion in 2009 and served nine years in the Air Force and three years as a Happy Hooligan with the North Dakota Air National Guard.

Keogh retired from the Army National Guard after 28 years of service, and Wieser Willson, an Iraq War veteran, is on her 16th year of service with the North Dakota Army National Guard.

Ron Matthews was re-elected as post adjutant, and William Ziegler will serve again as chaplain.

North Dakota National Guard members and retirees round out the list of officers, which include historian Penny Ripperger, who has served 15 years in the North Dakota Air National Guard; sergeant-at-arms Michele Olson, who retired after 27 years with the North Dakota Army National Guard; and assistant sergeant-at-arms Chris Hanson, who has served almost 15 years with the North Dakota Army National Guard.

The five-member Post 2 Executive Committee for 2010 will include Hank Deyle, Mike Haugen, Larry Woodbury, Dick Walstad and Brad Aune.

The new officers were to be installed during the monthly Post 2 meeting on Tuesday, June 1.