In American Legion history:
- Oct. 12, 1950: Erle Cocke, Jr., of Dawson, Ga., who was wounded three times and escaped German captivity three times during World War II – once having been shot multiple times and left for dead among the corpses of his fellow soldiers – becomes the youngest American Legion national commander. He is 29 years old when elected at the 32nd National Convention, in Los Angeles. His father, Egbert Erle Cocke, Sr., was an American Legion national vice commander in 1922 and 1923.
- Oct. 12, 2011: The redesigned American Legion office, printing and distribution center at 5745 Lee Road at Fort Harrison in Indianapolis is dedicated in memory of American Legion Past National Commander John H. Geiger of Illinois. Geiger, who led the organization in 1971 and 1972, was instrumental in the siting, architecture and construction of the 64,000-square-foot facility, which would house Emblem Sales and Information Technology divisions of the organization, as well as mass-mailing operations, membership and fundraising services. Geiger passed away Jan. 10, 2011.
Oct. 13, 2009: The Department of Veterans Affairs announces that it will recognize three additional health conditions – ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s Disease and hairy cell leukemia – as presumptive service-connected illnesses caused by exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. More than 200,000 veterans are expected to receive benefits and treatment from VA as a result of the decision, which is based on an Institute of Medicine report. The American Legion, although pleased with the decision, continues to fight for acceptance of conditions suffered by veterans who served at sea, in the air and stateside who were exposed to Agent Orange, not only those who came into contact with it on the ground in the Vietnam War. More than a year will pass before VA’s published addition of the diseases is reviewed and approved by Congress, in late 2011.