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10/17/2017 12:00 AM

Madison American Legion Post 79 Names First Female Commander

On Oct. 10 Donna Farrell was named the fist female commander of the American Legion Griswold Post 79 in Madison. Photo by Zoe Roos/The Source

With the centennial of the American Legion coming up in 2019, the American Legion Griswold Post 79 in Madison decided to set a first before marking 100 years. On Oct. 10, Post 79 appointed the first female commander, Donna Farrell.

Farrell served 15 years of active duty in the Air National Guard. An active member of the legion, she took over the role of parade marshal from Ed Guenther two years ago, although she jokingly said, “I actually think I was sneezing when my hand went up, but before I knew it I was parade marshal.”

With lots to do in the next few years including prepping for the centennial and hopefully having a rain-free parade soon (the parade has been rained out the last two years), Farrell said she is proud to add this “first” to her list.

“In short, being the first woman commander of Griswold Post 79 is quite the honor,” she said. “My goal for the next year or two is to have the American Legion work closely with the community. We want Madison to get to know us for the work we continue to do for our veterans, our community, and our nation.”

State Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. (D-12) and State Representative Noreen Kokoruda (R-101), attended the ceremony.

“We don’t have women who are veterans; we have veterans who happen to be female,” said Kokoruda.

Outgoing American Legion Post 79 Commander Rich Nichols said the legion had chosen wisely in electing Farrell and said he was proud of all that had been accomplished in the last two years of his tenure. Nichols said there will be some challenges ahead for the legion, particularly when it comes to recruiting.

“We have and must continue to recruit as if our organizations future depended on it because it does,” he said. “A key element in this effort is tolerance and diversity, which can bring many additional benefits. We must follow our military’s lead in accepting and welcoming veterans who are different than I am.

“On active service, it matters little if the man on the sonar consul is Jewish or if your wingman is actually your wing woman. The guy on the line in front of you might be of a different religion or race little represented in your home town, but he jumped just like you did. The company medic could have been—gods forbid—a Democrat, but if you needed help that didn’t matter,” he continued. “What did and does matter is that they were all there because they love this country and that is why we are here today, too. The future of the American Legion is dependent on growing into tomorrow while not forgetting the past.”

Donna Farrell takes over for outgoing American Legion Griswold Post 79 Commander Rich Nichols. Photo by Zoe Roos/The Source