Sunday, August 18, 2013



John Phillip Chang was born in New York City to Ju and Eng Lun Chang. He graduated from Hastings High School and later achieved a B.S. Degree in Pharmacy from the Brooklyn College of Pharmacy in 1972. In 1980, he became a pharmacist in the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New York. After 22 years of dedicated service to our veterans, John decided to retire so that he could concentrate on his duties as an active member of this organization.
John received his eligibility for membership into the Sons of The American Legion through his father, Ju Y. Chang, who served in the U.S. Army with the 11th Airborne Division during WWII (January 20, 1941 - January 16, 1946).
 He is a dual member (Sons of The American Legion and The American Legion) with over 27 years of continued service for both organizations. He recently completed two years as Detachment Vice Commander for the 1st and 9th Districts. On June 2008, John graduated from The Department of New York American Legion College. On October 2011, he graduated from The National American Legion College in Indianapolis, Indiana, receiving his diploma from National Commander Fang A. Wong. In addition, he has been active and held various offices at the Squadron and Detachment Levels. John is also a member of the Lt. B.R. Kimlau Chinese Memorial Squadron 1291 and the Lt. B.R. Kimlau Chinese Memorial Post 1291, both located in New York City.
John's military career started when he joined the United States Army Reserves on August 28, 1982. He was deployed during Desert Storm (1990-1991) and Operation Joint Endeavor (1996-1997). He also served several different positions at numerous military hospitals across the country and internationally. 

Throughout his distinguished military career, John has always devoted himself to serving his country and providing a positive role model for his soldiers. In 2005, John retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (P) after 24 years of dedicated service to our

Currently, John resides in Tarrytown, NY with his wife Priscilla. Their daughter, Lisa, is married to Matthew Curtin, and they have a 3 year-old son named Desmond. John Jr. followed in his father's footsteps and is currently working as a hospital pharmacist at New York University Medical Center. He is engaged to Michelle Wong and they are set to wed early next year.
Several members of John's family are associates of our Auxiliary, including Priscilla (wife), Lisa (daughter), and Eng Lun (mother). Both John and John Jr. are members of SAL Squadron 1291. They are all very proud to be part of the American Legion Family.


The Department of New York Convention 
was held in Niagara Falls, NY 
on July 17-20, 2013. 

Below are a few photographs of the annual 

Department Color Guard Leads off...

Carrying the colors high...

The Fifth District Lead The Parade...

5th District Commander James R. Ellis

Past Department Adjutant Richard M. Pedro

Richard M. "Dick" Pedro sadly announced his retirement due to medical problems.  

 Although the parade started out on time, a quick storm blew up and it became almost impossible to hold the colors and march. As the skies darkened and the clouds increased, the wind picked up and the decision was made to curtail the parade. 

The storm gained force and the rain and wind was soon pounding down against the buildings and grounds with mighty force. Several areas were without power as lightning strikes felled trees and power lines and poles.

The convention ended on Saturday with the election and installation of Commander Ken Governor to serve The American Legion, Department of New York for the year 2013-2014.

Our own James R. Ellis was given the oath of office of 5th District Commander by then-Adjutant Dick Pedro. Now it is our duty to support Jim and make his year a success for him. Coming up very soon, on October 5th is the visitation of the department commander Ken Governor, auxiliary president Barbara Corker and Sons of the American Legion commander John P. Chang. 

Watch this blog for latest information on the visitation and dinner plans for these dignitaries...

Friday, August 9, 2013

Casey Succeeds Pedro As NY Dept. Adjutant

James Casey

ALBANY -- The American Legion in New York State has a new adjutant for the first time in nearly three decades.

Department of New York Commander Kenneth Governor announced the appointment of James W. Casey of Malverne, NY, to succeed Adjutant Richard M. Pedro, who retired after the recent 95th Department Convention held in Niagara Falls.

As adjutant, Casey will serve as the chief administrative officer, working out of Department Headquarters in Albany.

Governor noted that Pedro, a World War II veteran, served as New York's adjutant for 29 years and was "so beloved and esteemed as a leader and as a Legionnaire that he was named an honorary past national commander" at 2012 National Convention. "Mr. Pedro set the example for all other adjutants and leaders."

Casey comes to the position as an experienced leader and administrator himself, Governor said. A past Department commander, Casey "served in leadership positions on every level of the organization and has received numerous accolades." In fact, the recent Department Convention honored him with the American Legion Meritorious Service Award for disaster relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. A member of Daniel M. O'Connell Post 272 in Rockaway Beach, Casey served in numerous roles on the county, district and Department levels. He chairs the National Commander's Visitation Dinner for the 1st, 2nd, 9th and 10th Districts, and he chairs the New York City American Legion (NYCAL) Committee, a group of Legionnaires from five counties working to find solutions to problems in New York City. On the national level, he is vice chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee.

Casey grew up in Rockaway Beach, and at the age of 18, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1969. Upon his return from the Navy four years later, he met his wife, Paulette Hurley, an Irish immigrant  from Cork City. They have been married for 35 years and have a daughter and two sons. Casey is retired from the Long Island Railroad where he worked as a signal inspector for 28 years.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Ron Smithers, Commander of Phoenix American Legion Post 418, seeks volunteers and donations for the Post's first annual Music Fest 1 for the Wounded Warriors Project, to be held Saturday, September 14th from 1 PM to 7 PM at American Legion Post 418, 9 Oswego River Road, Phoenix, NY on Route 57 at the north end of the village just north of the high school.
Smithers said, "The five bands who have agreed to donate their time have allowed us to hold down the admission donation to $5.00. Throughout the day we'll be holding raffles, 50/50's, a bake sale and a silent auction."
"The Wounded Warriors Project (WWP) helps thousands of Wounded Warriors and their families as they return home from the current conflicts. Wounded Warriors who have incurred service-connected injuries or illness on or after September 11, 2001 are eligible for the WWP Alumni program. When a warrior faces challenges, the family experiences those challenges along with their warrior. WWP supports family members who suddenly find they are serving as full-time supporters or caregivers. You can help the Wounded Warrior Project by volunteering your time or making a donation," Smithers went on to say.
"Right now, we're seeking donations and volunteers to make this event a success. If you can make a donation, or volunteer some time, contact Donna at 315-378-7936 or by e-mail at We sincerely appreciate any raffle or bake sale donation and each volunteer. All proceeds will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project," Smithers concluded.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Boys Nation senator

Boys Nation senator’s nonprofit spans world

The American Legion - August 1, 2013
Akbar Khan, a Boys Nation senator from Utah, has started a nonprofit organization, Bags to Riches, that donates unwanted cloth bags to needy individuals in all parts of the world. (Photo by Eldon Lindsay)

When Akbar Khan, a 2013 Boys Nation senator, returned from a visit to college campuses with his arms full of brochures and handbooks, he asked his uncle for a spare bag to borrow to collect the masses of paper that he was given. His uncle pointed him to a garage, where he saw a garbage bag full of “freebie” cloth bags that his uncle had collected from years of attending business conferences.

It was there that Khan’s idea for his nonprofit organization, which now spans five continents, was born. Khan went on to found Bags to Riches, an organization that collects bags given away and discarded at business conferences and distributes them to children in needy parts of the world. Founded in July of 2011, Bags to Riches has sent bags to children in Peru, Bangladesh and cities like Salt Lake City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Nearly 17,500 bags have been distributed worldwide since the organization’s founding, Khan says.

“Essentially, we collect and donate unwanted and extra conference bags,” Khan says. “They range from tote bags, to messenger bags, to backpacks... . They have almost no utility, and they almost always go to waste.”

Bags to Riches started modestly, with Khan doing most of the legwork. The rising high school senior from Salt Lake City traveled throughout the country, attending business conferences with a receptacle for unwanted bags and would prepare them for shipping himself.

He is still the only official employee, but he has extended his reach using the Internet and events like Boys Nation to recruit volunteers from all over to attend conferences in their localities and collect the discarded bags.

“I’m the only employee, but I have volunteers all across the world,” he says.
The donated bags end up in the hands of underprivileged youth and homeless, who Khan says can use the bags to carry their books, food and even important documents like Social Security cards. These are items that would normally end up being transported in plastic bags, which are less environmentally friendly than a cloth bag.

The organization operates on a budget of a few thousand dollars, which Khan says mostly comes from private donors.

Throughout his week at Boys Nation, his fellow Boys Nation senators expressed interest in helping him operate the company as they begin college.

“I have already had a lot of people express interest in helping out with Bags to Riches in the future,” Khan says. “These people will be key to the organization in the years to come.”

But Khan, who hopes to attend Stanford University and become an entrepreneur, has big plans for his nonprofit start-up in the near future.
“My long-term goal is to collect and donate every single unwanted conference bag in the world,” he says.