I Am The American Legion: Gary Crowden

Gary Crowden is a believer in the importance of marksmanship and gun safety. He started in the Junior NRA program at 13, shot for Purdue University’s rifle team and commanded an Army marksmanship unit in Germany.

“Marksmanship involves integrity, discipline, dedication – all character-building traits,” Crowden says. That’s why, as commander of American Legion Post 543 in St. James, N.C., he has prioritized the Junior Shooting Sports program. 

Under Crowden’s leadership, the team has placed second in the state in consecutive years. “I’m proud of the way these kids have come together,” he says. “It gives them respect for the weapons, and it gives them respect for themselves. Those are the things I want to try to instill in these cadets.”  

His rural community appreciates the local Legion’s leadership and financial support of a winning shooting team. But Post 543’s footprint goes even deeper. Members render honors at military funerals, provide financial assistance for veterans at a nearby community college and participate in other Legion youth programs.  

“It’s your obligation to give something back to the community, and I think we do that,” Crowden says. “I think we do it very well.”


Branch of Service  Army (1969-1990) 

Military Job  Infantry officer

Rank Lieutenant colonel

Awards  Received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization in the 1970s, along with 297 officers from 17 countries

American Legion Post  Richard H. Stewart Jr. Post 543, St. James, N.C. 

Years in The Legion 14

Legion Activities

  • Post commander (2016-present)
  • Post adjutant (2014-2016)