Hill elected new Legion commander

America's largest veterans organization has elected a retired U.S. Navy captain as its new national commander.

Delegates at The American Legion's 91st National Convention chose Clarence Hill of Jacksonville, Fla., to lead the 2.5-million member organization of wartime veterans for one year.

Hill plans to increase the Legion's outreach efforts using social media networks and other Internet technologies. His goals also include diversifying membership by recruiting more minorities and increasing awareness of issues affecting woman veterans. While veterans from any war era are always welcome in the Legion, Hill plans to expand outreach efforts to veterans from Vietnam, post-Vietnam and the current War on Terrorism.

A native of Martin's Ferry, Ohio, Hill graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1972 with a B.S. degree. He served 19 of 24 years on sea duty and retired in 1996. He commanded a PT boat and several ships: a guided-missile frigate (during Operation Desert Storm), two destroyers and two cruisers.

He also commanded the Naval Communications Station United Kingdom in Thurso, Scotland; Cruiser-Destroyer Group 12 in Mayport, Fla.; and the U.S. Sixth Fleet, homeported in Gaeta, Italy.

Ashore, Hill earned two master's degrees, one from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and the other from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.

A Legionnaire of 27 years, Hill is a life member and three-time post commander of Post 316 in Atlantic Beach, Fla. He is a dual member of the Sons of The American Legion, belonging to Squadron 316. He attended the National American Legion College in 2000 and was an instructor in 2001.

He was Florida's department commander from July 2002 to July 2003, achieving an all-time-high in state membership. Hill earned eight Gold Brigade Awards for recruiting 50 or more members in a single year. He served for three years as the national chairman of the Legion's National and Homeland Security Commission, and belongs to Legion Riders.

Hill took the oath along with five other national officers. Serving as national vice commanders are Eugene A. Schumacher of Aberdeen, S.D.; James C. Morris of Cardington, Ohio; Dr. Gordon B. Browning of Chestertown, Md.; Mark A. Avis of Palmer, Mass.; and Morris M. Bentley of Grangeville, Idaho.

Following the national convention's close, Hill appointed National Historian James T. Higuera of Arcadia, Calif., National Chaplain John L. Beaver of Mobile, Ala., and Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Martel of Pierson, Fla.