American Legion National Adjutant Daniel S. Wheeler received an award Thursday that was named in honor of a Buffalo Soldier who worked as a lawyer until he was 106 years old. Wheeler accepted the Dr. John Morton-Finney Award during an evening of commemorations by the Veterans Day Council of Indianapolis that included the premier of the film “Hoosier Heroes of the Great War.”
Morton-Finney, a member of American Legion Post 249 in Indianapolis, served in both world wars and earned 11 college degrees. A longtime educator and practicing attorney – believed to have been the oldest lawyer still handling cases at his retirement – he was inducted into the National Bar Association Hall of Fame in 1981. Morton-Finney passed away Jan. 28, 1998, at age 108.
Two years before Morton-Finney’s induction into the Bar Association Hall of Fame, Wheeler began his career at The American Legion National Headquarters.
A U.S. Navy veteran during the Vietnam War, Wheeler worked as an assistant editor, managing editor, publisher/editor-in-chief of The American Legion Magazine until 1995. He was then promoted to executive director of the Legion’s National Headquarters in Indianapolis and was appointed national adjutant in 2008.
In that role, he serves as chief operating officer for the nation’s largest veterans service organization, leading staff, programs and services and advising volunteer officers throughout the United States and around the world.
“Since 1994, the Veterans Day Council of Indianapolis has annually recognized the veteran whose service to the nation and its citizens extends far beyond his or her activities while in uniform,” explained Savannah Wood, chief executive officer for ECHO Housing Corp., and master of ceremonies for the awards ceremony at the Indiana War Memorial auditorium. “This year’s recipient of the Dr. John Morton-Finney Award exemplifies ideals of selflessness and service. This patriot clearly meets the gold standard established by Dr. Morton-Finney.”
A member of American Legion Post 137 of Richmond, Va., Wheeler is past president of the Citizens Flag Alliance – a network of organizations that supports a constitutional amendment to restore to states the right to protect the U.S. flag from deliberate acts of desecration. Wheeler is also a past president of the Veterans Day Council of Indianapolis, which conducts ceremonies and a parade every Veterans Day in downtown Indianapolis, home of The American Legion National Headquarters.