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Daughter gives him life
New Legion commander has her kidney
The new officers of American Legion Post 249 are, from left, Art Smith, Art Averitt, Shawn Winston, Rod McCleary, Penny Winston, Art Thompson, Jim Winston, Rich Haas and Bob Gonzalez. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL/ The Bulletin

Bob Gonzalez was installed as the new commander for American Legion Post 249 on Tuesday night.

And it was almost his second time in the position.

Several years ago Gonzalez was all set to inherit the position from the previous commander before he fell ill and had to recuse himself from his duties.

The only reason he was able to return to his active social service life, he said, was standing in the room Tuesday when he was handed the gavel.

Gonzalez’ daughter, Michelle, gifted her father a new lease on life when she gave him – a kidney.

And he tearfully recounted this before his veteran brothers Tuesday night, drawing audible gasps from people in the room when he gave his comments about why he was even able to be standing there.

Being able to make a confession like that, according to Legion member and Manteca City Councilman Richard Silverman, is a sign of the bond that exists between veterans and why the American Legion is such a great asset in the community.

“It’s great for veterans because it gives them an organization they can turn to and talk about the things that only those that served would be able to talk about,” he said. “They do a lot of great things for our community but the main thing is that they help the veterans and that’s so important.”

But Gonzalez wasn’t the only one who shed a tear.

Outgoing commander Jim Winston – who was given a certificate of recognition from the Manteca City Council by Silverman Tuesday night – had to take a second to compose himself when introducing Chuck and Terri Palmer, the parents of the first Manteca serviceman to give his life in The War on Terror.

It was a fitting moment to honor the name and memory of Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II and a fitting place to do so – the McFall-Grisham post is named after Hope McFall, the first Manteca casualty in World War I and Kenneth Grisham, the first Manteca casualty of World War II. Brock Elliott Elementary School was named after the first Manteca serviceman killed during the Vietnam War.

And it was a fitting moment for the Palmers to give back to an organization that has given so much to them.

On top of presenting a certificate of appreciate to Post 249 for their continued support, they also donated $500 raised during their troop packing efforts for the ADA-compliance work that the aging building requires.

The new officers of American Legion Post 249 are, service officer Art Smith, Chaplain Art Averitt, Sgt. at Arms Shawn Winston, finance officer Rod McCleary, adjunct Penny Winston, 2nd Vice Commander Art Thompson, Judge Advocate Jim Winston, 1st Vice Commander Rich Haas and Commander Bob Gonzalez.