AAR_060825 88th National American Legion Convention


 Salt Lake City National Convention

August 25th – 27th, 2006 – Friday through Sunday

    Bob “Doc” Kutzner, who conceived of the Pony Express, and Ron “Fox” Whipple, a charter organizer for the PE, flew to Salt Lake City, Utah for the 88th Annual American Legion Convention.  Chosen as Division 1 delegates, we checked in to the Little America Hotel near the Convention Center and proceeded to meet many American Legion Pony Express supporters who had heard of the Pony Express from a lot of talk that was going around.  We camped out at a place called the Port of Call and got window seats.  Did you ever feel like a bear behind a window in the Zoo?  That was us.  The place had two lines, each a half-block long to get in almost all night and the waiting crowd was impressive to watch as they were watching us.  We got preferential treatment as Legionnaires and veterans.

     Saturday morning we got up early and headed for the Salt Lake City Convention Center, The Salt Palace.  There, we met with National Commander Thomas Bock to discuss the great success of the Legacy Run (over $100,000 tallied so far), much of it due to the Pony Express and to make plans for presenting the original Pony Express National Map on which the whole nation’s original Pony Express routes were planned.  We also met with National Adjutant Robert Spanogle who was very pleased with the success of the Pony Express. He arranged with his staff to take photos of the map transfer and arranged for an interview for a feature article in the American Legion Magazine all about the Pony Express.  We left with assurances that Commander Bock would be announcing the American Legion recognition and support of the Pony Express on stage at the big Legion gathering on Tuesday and that he would ask that every Department Commander support us and help us set up the Pony Express in their states. 

     Saturday afternoon we met with Butch Sparks, the new Department of Texas Commander.  He was very open and supportive about the development of the Pony Express.

     Saturday night we again camped out at the Port of Call because we knew many of the riders would be attending due to word of mouth about the place.  Again, we pinned numerous Pony Express Messengers.

     Sunday morning, we got up around 10:00am and, after a leisurely breakfast, we headed for the airport where we got on a 2:25pm flight and flew back home to a much needed rest.

     It was a very successful trip.  Mr. Spanogle and Tom Bock told us to keep doing exactly what we were doing and wished us every success in keeping the Pony Express growing.

NOTE:  We got a report from a Pony Express Messenger from Florida who witnessed Commander Bock’s onstage presentation on Tuesday, August 29th in front of the nation’s assembled representatives of the American Legion Riders.  He reported that Commander Bock gave a tally of donations to the Legacy Run at over $150,000; 50% more than they thought they would be able to raise and he repeatedly praised all the volunteers of the Pony Express and asked that everyone support it and help it grow so it could continue doing such good work.

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