Speedway, Middlebury Legionnaires Earn Top Honors

Jul 18, 2011, 16:21 ET from American Legion Department of Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS, July 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two long-time members of The American Legion Department of Indiana have been honored by their comrades with the organization's Distinguished Service Award.

Ralph Tolan of Speedway, Indiana, and Jack Cook of Middlebury, Indiana, were recognized for their "impressive record of service in a variety of Post, District, Department and National Offices. By their service they have brought great credit on the Department of Indiana," said Past Indiana Department commander Robert Newman, who presented the awards during the Legion's 93rd annual state convention in Indianapolis July 16.

In the 93 year history of the state's largest veterans' organization, only 188 Legionnaires have been honored with the Distinguished Service Award.

Ralph Tolan is a 39-year member of Speedway American Legion Post 500. He was elected Department Commander in 2008. He is a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, where he served as a helicopter mechanic, crew chief and machine gunner in 1968-1969.

He has served in almost every office available at the post, and is a past 11th District Commander. He also served the District as Adjutant, and has been active in Department and National offices and activities for many years. Prior to his election as Department Commander, Tolan chaired all four permanent department commissions – Americanism, Children & Youth, Internal Affairs, and Rehabilitation – and served one term as Department Southern Vice Commander.

Jack Cook ended the latest of his many important assignments on behalf of The Department of Indiana the same day he accepted the award, ending his one-year stint as Department Membership Chairman.

Cook is a navy veteran of the war in Vietnam, having served in the "brown water navy" as a swift boat crew member. His deployment to Vietnam began during the 1968 Tet Offensive and ended during the 1969 Tet Offensive. For his service, he was awarded the National Defense Service Ribbon, Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, Vietnam Service Ribbon, Combat Action Ribbon, and the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V.

In addition to local Legion service, Cook has been Third District Commander, Adjutant, Membership Chairman, Elkhart County Membership Chairman and Boys State Enrollment Chairman.  His state level assignments include Boys' State Enrollment Chairman, Northern Vice Commander, and counselor and Assistant Dean at Boys State.

SOURCE American Legion Department of Indiana