At a grand evening Aug. 18, members of Camp Gordon Johnston American Legion Post 82, together with the Sons, Auxiliary and Legion Riders installed officers for 2018-19.
Greg Kristofferson, the Post’s outgoing adjutant, opened the ceremony by thanking all the special guests, who included District 2 Commander Jim Brennan and wife Pat; District 2 Auxiliary President Nell Hewitt and husband Roger, the District 2 vice commander; District 2 Sons Commander Kent Smith and wife Jane; Legion Riders Area Chairman Jim Bowers; and Western Area Commander Raymond Olsen.
“This is the occasion where we recognize those willing to serve our organization in their respective leadership roles. It takes hard work and dedication to the Post and the American Legion to step up and serve,” said Kristofferson, who has been a member of the executive board for eight years, the last six as adjutant.
“It is time for me to step down and let new blood and ideas into the Post,” he said, introducing the new Post Adjutant Rachel Murphy, the first female to serve in that role.
Kristofferson outlined the Post’s achievements over the past six years. In 2013 the Post became a Farm Share distribution site, which has become a permanent fixture in providing food for the community.
Also In 2013, with the help of the now late member Bill Miller, Post 82 got an armament display in the form of a M101 cannon. “It was a pleasure working with Bill on this project. He said he finally got to cross that off his bucket list,” Kristofferson said.
In 2014 Post 82 became the first in Florida to receive the Post Excellence Award, the only Post to receive this award that year.
In 2016 Post 82 approved the formation of Legion Riders Chapter 82, in in 2017 acquired a new “used” flagpole for the Post, donated by The St. Joe Company, and moved and refurbished with the help of volunteer Post members and local contractors.
“Each year Post 82 has sent Franklin County students to the American Legion’s Boys State and Girls State programs and continues to do so,” Kristofferson said. “Each Christmas Post 82’s Auxiliary unit collects donations, shops for and delivers hundreds of Christmas gifts for veterans residing in our local nursing homes.”
He said the Post each March hosts the Camp Gordon Johnston Days low country boil, and each April hosts the Tonya’s Hope Cancer fundraiser, raising funds to help cancer victims with expenses during their treatment.
He noted that over the past six years, the membership rolls have grown from 120 Legionnaires to numbers as high as 157. “We received over 100 percent membership in four of the past six years with 95 and 90 percent the other years,” Kristofferson said.
“Membership is the lifeblood of the American Legion and our membership goals can only be maintained and increased with the continued support from all of our members,” he said. “As with any veteran’s organization, we are founded on volunteerism. A handful of dedicated individuals cannot do the lion’s share of the work required to keep this Post alive and thriving.
“I encourage all members of the Post to pitch in and assist your new leaders with the various tasks that they face during the year. This is your Post and it will only continue to grow and improve if we work together to make it happen,” said Kristofferson.
Brennan and then other district commanders then conducted the installation of new Post officers. He noted that Kristofferson’s retirement is a big loss to Post 82. “Greg and I have worked well over the years,” Brennan said. “The incoming adjutant has big shoes to fill.”
American Legion Department of Florida State Commander Dianne Boland, elected in June and the first female Florida state commander, is tentatively scheduled to attend “Hamburger Night” at Post 82 is Friday, Sept. 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. She and her group will visit the Camp Gordon Johnston Museum during the day and come out for hamburgers during the evening.