Pawhuska Legion post to have national commander visit

Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Pawhuska's American Legion Post 198 has learned it is scheduled to have a special guest on Monday, May 23. Paul Dillard, national commander of the Legion, is to be the post's guest for lunch.

Other dignitaries are anticipated to be in attendance, among them the Oklahoma state commander of the American Legion and the principal chief of the Osage Nation. Charles O'Leary of Hominy is the state commander.

Danny Mooney, adjutant for Post 198, said that to his knowledge this is the first time a national Legion commander has visited Pawhuska. Post 198 is named in honor of Harold Bigheart Smalley, a U.S. Navy seaman who died in action during World War II.

Paul E. Dillard was elected national commander of the American Legion on Sept. 2, 2021, in Phoenix during the organization’s 102nd national convention. His theme as national commander is “No Veteran Left Behind.” He first joined the American Legion in 1969.

A native Texan, Dillard graduated from Whitesboro High School in 1965 before joining the U.S. Navy and serving in Vietnam through four campaigns including the Tet offensive. He later received an honorable discharge as a radarman second class petty officer from the Navy Reserve before attending Grayson County Junior College and East Texas State University.

Dillard worked several years in the manufacturing business as an engineer, plant manager and director of manufacturing in Tennessee. Upon returning to Texas, he accepted a sales representative position with Sherman Foundry and became its airplane pilot. A career change was made when he and his wife, Donna, began their family and he entered the insurance business specializing in employee benefits and later forming Dillard & Gann Insurance.

As a paid-up-for-life member of American Legion Post 265 in Lake Kiowa, Texas, Dillard served as post commander, vice commander, adjutant and judge advocate. He coached American Legion Baseball for more than 10 years and served as his post’s Boys State chairman.

Dillard served the 4th District as commander and vice commander and served the department as sergeant-at-arms, Membership & Organization chairman, National Security chairman, Uniformed Organization chairman, Board of Trustees chairman, and he served on the Finance Committee and the Long-Range Planning Committee. He was elected as Department of Texas commander in 2007.

On the national level, Dillard has served as Alternate National Executive Committeeman, consultant to the Insurance Committee, Distinguished Guest Committee, Children & Youth Committee, and Media and Communications Council. He has served as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, chairman of the Veterans Employment & Education Commission and chairman of the Legislative Commission. He was elected as national vice commander in 2013. 

Dillard married Donna in 1983. They have two sons, William and his wife, Allison, and Jonathon and his wife, Karri, and two grandsons, Jarrett and Lukas. All are members of the American Legion Family. Donna has been an active and dedicated member of the American Legion Auxiliary for several years and has served in numerous positions of leadership at all levels of the organization, including department president in 2017-2018.