American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz will visit Irwin-Easley Post #118 in Cassville on Saturday, Nov. 3.
"This is quite an honor," said Pete Landstad, American Legion Post #118 commander. "He is the national commander over the whole country and all American Legion members. It's a pretty big deal."
Koutz's tour of southwest Missouri will begin when he arrives in Springfield on Nov. 2. After breakfast at Goad-Ballinger Post #69 in Springfield and a visit to the Springfield Veterans Cemetery, Koutz will visit Cassville for a luncheon.
The event will begin with social time, which will be held from 12:30 to 1 p.m. A light lunch will be served from 1 to 1:30 p.m., and Koutz will offer a special program from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m.
After visiting Cassville, Koutz will make a stop in Webb City before returning to Springfield. He will visit Fort Leonard Wood and other posts in Missouri on Nov. 4 and 5.
The luncheon in Cassville is open to all area American Legion members.
Koutz, who is from Boonville, Ind., was elected national commander of the 2.4 million-member American Legion during the 94th national convention in Indianapolis, Ind., on Aug. 30.
A Vietnam War veteran, Koutz entered the United States Army in August of 1969. He attended basic training at Ft. Knox, Ky., and advanced infantry training at Ft. Ord, Calif. After serving an extended tour of duty with Co. C. 169th Engineer Battalion, he was honorably discharged with the rank of Specialist 5 in March of 1971.
Koutz is a member of Boonville Post #200. He was honored as a life member of the post in 1991 and served as its post commander for nine years. He 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, in 1990 and 1991, Koutz achieved an all-time high membership. At the national level, he served on the Foreign Relations Commission and as chairman of both the Economics and Legislative commissions. He is also a member of the Citizens Flag Alliance and served on the Veterans' Planning and Coordinating Committee.
Koutz retired from the Amax Coal Company in 1995 after 21 years of service. He was appointed by the Warrick County Commissioners as service officer for the Warrick County Veterans Affairs office in January of 1995. The Governor of Indiana appointed him as commissioner of the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2005. He served as president of that commission in 2007.
Former Gov. Evan Bayh awarded Koutz the State of Indiana Council of Sagamore of the Wabash in 1991. He was also recognized for outstanding community achievement of Vietnam veterans by President Jimmy Carter.