Commander’s Page

August 2021

Commander Smith’s Biography – Post 44 American Legion

I am currently an adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University where I teach classes in Strategic Management and Macroeconomics. I have 20+ years of international banking experience working for HSBC and am a retired U.S. Army Finance Officer (LTC). I served a total of 23 years (9 years active duty and 14 years in the Army Reserves). I hold a bachelor’s degree from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and an MBA from University of LaVerne. My wife and I have been married for 30+ years (she’s the Auxiliary Treasurer). We have a 22-year-old daughter who will graduate from Arizona State University in Fall 2021 and an 8-week-old puppy. In my free time, I like to golf, garden, ride bikes (both mountain and road), taste wine and hike AZ.


Mike Ragole, Commander 2020-2021
July 2020
Once again Summer Greetings to all you heat lovers and quasi-quarantined Legionnaires and the entire Legion Family.
To say we live in “interesting times” is probably one of the most overused phrases I have heard these past few months. Near Nationwide lockdown and the disproportionate reopening by states across the country has had and will have long lasting effects on the country. 
The American Legion has been impacted as well by this uncertainty. Both the Department and National Conventions were cancelled. Boys and Girls State and most Legion youth activities were also scrubbed. Because of the inability to congregate and elect new State and National Officers, it was determined all officers should remain in place for another full year.  This applied to Posts as well. I am a fill-in, following Commander John Orendorff’s resignation for health issues. (Continued recovery John!) Most of the other officers are still in place except for a few replacements via E-Board approval.
Please note that one of our new officers is Jr. Vice Commander Ed Bogonovich, who along with Club Manager, Barney Etzel (SAL), are really stepping up and leading us through these tough times. Our new Sr. Vice Commander is Ed Kelety, my right hand. Thanks Gents! 
You all know Post 44 was closed for 2 months and has only recently begun opening for limited hours.  We will probably continue this through the rest of the summer months. Fortunately, we have some favorite events back on the calendar like the Queen of Hearts, 50/50, Karaoke on Friday; Sunday Bar Bingo, and Monday Bingo. If you can make it down, please come and support these events.
Finally, there is no way we can express our sincere gratitude to all who have donated to our fund raising events these past few months. The support overwhelms us. Along with our volunteer staff, you are continuing to keep Post 44 as the “BEST DAMN POST IN THE WEST!”
Thank you!
Mike Ragole

July, 2019

Legionnaires and Friends,

Summer is upon us, and once again its time to think about Membership .  Post 44 will begin issuing 2020 Membership cards on Monday, July 8, 2019.   We currently have 850 Legionnaires registered with our National organization.  My goal is to retain our current membership and gain over 60 new member in 2020.

In addition to member renewals and securing new members, Post 44 will put major emphasis on Volunteering throughout the year 2020.

Why is volunteering important?

Our annual dues do not begin to cover the many activities and services Post 44 performs throughout the year.  Countless events could not take place without the support and vitality of our volunteer members.  Of the $50 membership fee the Post retains only half of that amount.  The remainder goes to support the National and Department (State) American Legion organizations.

Not only does the Post benefit from the support of its volunteers, but you can benefit, too.  Your volunteer activities connect you to others in the Post, and volunteering can bring a greater sense of fulfillment to your American Legion membership.  By volunteering, you also support the foundation of the American Legion which is built from the ground up by individual members who treat each other with respect, dignity, and comradeship. It’s also the best way to re-vitalize our Post to help our brother and sister veterans.

If you see an area in our Post that you think needs improvement, bring not only your suggestions but also your spirit of volunteerism to the table.  Join our cadre of volunteers and help make Post 44 the most vibrant and dynamic Post in Arizona.

The year 2020 will also see renewed emphasis on the 100 CLUB.  We hope membership in this prestigious group will continue to grow as our capital requirements continue to grow.  We are planning new and exciting events for our 100 CLUB members, and we will be issuing 2020 Membership cards to existing and new members.

John Orendorff


February, 2019

Legionnaires and Friends,

Many of our members have asked how the 100 Club is doing. As of January 31, 2019 we have over 250 Legionnaires, Auxiliary and SAL members who have contributed over $28,000, money that has gone to roof repair, kitchen equipment, and other major projects. Many other projects remain to be completed.

Since January, donations have been less frequent but our needs have not diminished.  If you have not joined the 100 Club, the invitation remains open.  We are planning a few special events exclusively for 100 Club members in the future.

Meanwhile, our winter visitors are arriving and we welcome you once again.  A new addition to our many activities at Post 44 is Bar Bingo on Sunday afternoons.  It’s a lot of fun.  Other activities coming soon are Parada del Sol (2/9), Honor Our Vets (2/17), Past Leaders’ Dinner (2/27).

With our By-Laws change regarding officer nomination date (posted on the November website), I will appoint a Nomination Committee consisting of three Legion members at our February membership meeting.  The Nomination Committee will place in nomination officers and trustees for the next year.  I encourage all members to give serious thought to the officer nomination process and take an active part.  This is how you keep your post alive, vibrant, and the best it can be.

Our 2019 membership campaign is going very well although we still have a few past members yet to renew their membership.  As of January 1st, we have 763 paid members of 908 on our roster for 84%.  My goal for 2019 is 100 new members.  We are very close to that goal.    Stop by the Post 44 office and we’ll get your membership up to date for a bargain $50.00.



November 2018

The 100 Club has now been in existence for one month.  Thanks to all those who have so generously donated.  In recognition, we have listed your name in the Post 44 Newsletter.  We will continue to recognize each months’ new donors until we reach our goal of $100,000.  Today, we stand at over $20,000.

To those of you who have not yet donated to the 100 Club, we recognize procrastination, forgetfulness, or other pressing obligations.  Remember, our objective is to fix, repair, and renovate major building needs so we can continue to provide a place for friendship and comfort, not only for our members, but also for many others whom we support.

Some of these needs include:  fire detection and prevention, electrical upgrades, major roof repair, kitchen equipment repair/replace, and Board of Health compliance.

To make your donation to the 100 Club less burdensome, you may make your donation in increments of $25.00 for four consecutive months.  Payments may be made by cash, check, Credit Card, or PayPal.  To make a credit card donation, simply go the Post 44 website ( and click on 100 Club on the left side of the home page.  If you have trouble with the website, give us call (480-941-0130) and we will walk through the process.

And, thanks for your donation.

John Orendorff, Commander


September 2018

Legionnaires and Friends,

A long, hot summer is about to come to an end.  Our winter visitors will soon be arriving (and bringing us cooler weather).  When you arrive, be sure to take a quick peek in Patriots Hall.  Our new bar in the Hall is under construction and completion is scheduled for early October.

In the meantime, a Steak Fry will be here at Post 44 on Friday, September 14th.  Tickets are going fast and we expect a sellout.  If you miss this great Post activity be sure to catch the next one – OCTOBERFEST.

As I mentioned in my last letter, we fell a little short of our donation goal for the summer.  Our goal was to receive $5,000 for each of the months of May, June, July, and August for a total of $20,000.  This amount would meet our operating needs.  We took in $14,000.  As a result of this shortfall, we are developing a donation program to carry us through the entire year and provide funding for much needed building renovation and repair.  More on that later.

Our membership renewal program is underway for 2019.  Membership is vital to the survival of Post 44.  We still have more than 500 members who have not renewed as of this time.  If you have not renewed your membership, there is no better time than the present.  My goal is to sign up 100 new members (with your help).

I am pleased to announce that one of us, Bud Blankenship, has volunteered to become a membership recruiter for Post 44. Thank you, Bud.  It’s not just Bud’s job to recruit new members.  Recruiting is every member’s job. It’s fun, easy to do, and enjoyable.  Don’t delay, Get after it today.

And finally, the SAL have a new slate of officers.  Since an unfortunate motorcycle accident left Brandon Vail unable to perform his duties, Jace Cherry has been elected Squadron 44 Commander. And, Brandon is making a full recovery.


Legionnaires and Friends,

Thank you for the kind welcome you have given me as the new Commander, Post 44.
I’ve been told that summer is usually slow around here. Not so.
1. Summertime seems to always present financial challenges and this year is no exception. We are off to a good start on our membership donation drive. We are hopeful the  donations will continue throughout the summer. On June 23rd, Post44 sponsored a Raffle- Dinner – Dance. That activity generated over $3,000 and set the stage for our donation goal of $5,000 for each of the months of May, June, July, and August. It looks like July and August will fall short of goal, leaving us short for the four months by approximately $6,000. Many of our members have dug deep in their pockets. But, many more have not.
2. New young members will be the lifeblood of all veteran organizations in the near future. American Legion Post 44 is no different. We will develop social programs and activities that will attract a younger crowd.
3. Our facilities are getting a facelift – inside and out. New designs will attract potential members and non-members: look at us, sample our menu, revel in the atmosphere, and make new friends. We are open for breakfast, 8:00a – 10:00a every day. We are opening
our breakfast kitchen to the public!
4. Our entry foyer has been converted to a small gift shop featuring Legion family shirts,caps, pins, and other items. The shop will be managed by the Legion Auxiliary.
5. We have a group of Officers and E-Board members that are dedicated to making Post 44 the best it can possibly be. That same group of people will continue in their current positions, with three exceptions.
a. Barry MacMurray has been elected to the position of Finance Officer for Post 44.
b. Rodger Wells has been appointed to the position of Adjutant. Thank you, Rodger,
for your continued support and leadership.
c. Wayne Marsh, attorney, has been appointed to the position of Service Officer.
I am truly honored to be elected as your Commander for the 2018-2019 year. The challenges are great, the opportunities are many, the rewards promise to be fulfilling.

1 May 2018

This will be my final message to you as Commander of Post 44. You know that John Orendorff was elected and installed as Commander at our April General Meeting. I want to say that it has been an honor to represent Post 44 over the last two years.I want to thank everyone who supported me during that time. The entire officer team was always there to help in so many ways. The members who loaned money to Post 44 at the start of my term were indispensable to the Post.  Our employees continue to work hard to keep us happy. My sincere thanks to all of you.

As you know, I will be moving over one seat in the office to assume the adjutant role (which I held for several past years) and to stay close by to help our new Commander in any way I can. Mark Granholt and Bernard Lishinski  have agreed to continue to assist with membership transmittals and meeting minutes. I appreciate their past and future support.  So you will continue to see me at the Post, just not as much as during the last two years.

As we move into the slow period of our business cycle, we again see ourselves challenged to get through the summer. John has announced the start of a new fund-raising challenge to try to get back on track with our donations programs. A special fund-raising event is being set up in June and I urge all of us to support these and other efforts. As the Club moves into new money-making ideas, all members should do what they can to make them successful, and to have patience for the inevitable “rough edges” that change always bring about. Remember, Post 44 is much more than just another Scottsdale restaurant. We are all part of a family unit and should work to keep things running smoothly.

Again, thanks for all your support and I’ll see you at Post44!


9 April 2018

March was another busy month here at Post 44. Many thanks to everyone who helped with all the great events! Saint Patrick’s night was a lot of fun. Our visit by the National Commander was a great honor for our Post. Many compliments were received from the delegation. That same night, we had fun at the SAL Western night. And, everyone who participated in our fantastic Easter brunch has very complimentary. Chef Bernard outdid himself once again!

We had our Legion meeting and our slate of nominations for 2018-2019 is:

Commander – John Orendorff

Senior Vice – Forest Wright

Junior Vice – Randy Thomas

Finance Officer – no candidate nominated

Chaplain – Billy Martin

Sergeant at Arms – Tom Redd

Trustees – Billy Estes, Ron Ihsen, Keith Thomas

Executive Commitee –  Jack Shemer. Ed Bogonovich, Ed Shroot, Sully Truesdell and Mike Hatounian

The election a and installation will be at the April 26th General meeting.

Coming very soon in May will be our big Mother’s Day brunch and we also plan to have a party on May 5th for both Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby. It is sure to be a great event!

As our winter visitors start their trips, remember that it comes even more critical that we support our club. Bring your friends and neighbors down for lunch and/or dinner whenever you can.


6 March 2018

Time is flying by and there has been a lot happening at Post 44. We had a great time watching the Superbowl together and enjoyed our first “Chili Cook-off event. We had our second “Four Chaplain’s Ceremony” .  We had another successful Parada del Sol event (we have been in every one since 1952!) and I thank everyone who helped make it the great day it was! Thanks to Kim Jones, our chairperson, and thanks to our Honor Guard, our Auxiliary members and the ALR riders who helped us to win the 2018 “Most Patriotic Entry” award from the parade leadership. Also during February, we had a great Valentines Day event and held our annual “Past Commanders/Past presidents Night”. Many thanks to all who supported us for those events as well. Special thanks goes to the people who helped decorate our Post for all the events that we enjoy. It is this kind of support that helps keep Post 44 the great place it has been for so many years!

March promises to be equally busy with several things on the calendar for us to enjoy. On March 14th, we will host the first in what we hope are on-going Wednesday night Dart Tournaments. Everyone is invited to participate in those events. Then, on March 17th, we will celebrate with our traditional Saint Patrick’s Day fun. On March 28th, at 0930 we will again be honored by a visit with our National Commander, Denise Rowan and her entire delegation from Indianapolis. They will be stopping by for breakfast for a few hours and everyone is invited to come down to meet with her and her team while they are here. That same night, our SAL unit is presenting their Western Night, with western food and music. Get your tickets ahead of time and come down for a good time and to support the SALs.

And, although it is not in March, our regular Easter buffet will be on Sunday, April 1 and is always a great event to plan for.

And, besides these special events, we will continue to have busy and fun Tuesdays with the Queen, Thursdays with Bar Bingo and live music on Fridays and Saturdays! Many, many thanks to everyone who works hard to keep those busy schedules coming!

Finally, the nominations for 2018-2019 officers will be held on March 22nd. Any member in good standing is eligible to run for any office in the Post. If you can take the time to help run our Post and are interested in running, contact one of the members of the Nomination Committee or come to the March General Meeting to be nominated.

Rodger Wells

Commander 2016-2018


26 January 2018

During last night’s General Meeting, I presented my “Annual Report” to the membership, as required by our by-laws. As I did for 2016, I organized it using the format used when I first presented my vision and goals for Post 44 prior to assuming this office. Here is the report I reviewed:

2017 Annual Report to Membership

  1. Economic stability of Post and club
    • Membership loan were completely paid off in September, eight months before they would have come due.
    • We moved back to a combined Head Chef/Club Manager position when it was obvious that a stand-alone Club Manager would not be supported by our financials. Trends shown in the Club are positive and encouraging. New menus and pricing continues to show we are moving in the right direction.
    • We were able to replace the four remaining air conditioners through an agreement with member Larry Thompson and assisting donations from all Legion family units. This took away our most feared, large, pending liability.
    • We survived a flood on June 1 that destroyed our dance floor and back bar. We were able to get by that situation by closing for just a single day.
    • The amazing success of the Queen of Hearts game delivered the Post funds needed to offset the slow summer season.
  2. Increased volunteerism
    • We have continued to expand our use of volunteers at the club and post, not only to reduce costs, but to increase our closeness as a team. We need to make sure that people who volunteer are contacted quickly and placed into an appropriate role or schedule to be sure their interest remains. We still have a ways to go getting volunteers to step up to tasks that can perform. This must continue to be a focus point for both the Legion and the Legion family units.
  3. Increased focus on Fraternal aspects of Post
    • Every effort has been made to keep Post 44 the welcoming place it has always been. We are well known for our hospitality and that aspect has been pointed out all the way to our National Commander during his visit this year! We have expanded our “regular” activities to almost every day at the Post and we welcome all newcomers enthusiastically.
    • Have made special efforts to expand membership for active duty service men and women. Have added 30+ younger active-duty people to our ranks.
  4. More support for veteran’s causes
    • A committee has been established to evaluate what charitable causes we should and could support. As a result, we have contributed  over $10000 to several veteran and youth-related organizations, as required by our by-laws. The committee meets monthly to consider new requests and to manage a contribution budget.
  5. More delegation of responsibility
    • Special efforts have been made to require other officers than the Commander to step up to decision-making as our by-laws specify. Increased decision-making by trustees and other officers have been encouraged.
  6. More specific accountability for major events and projects
    • Commander has required that every major event have a chairperson and that “event planning guidelines” be used to assure accountability is being driven to one person. This procedure has helped to clarify what has been done or remains to be done to assure event successes.
  7. Improved support for Honor Guard
    • We have been able to expand membership of our Honor Guard and have continued our support for Parada, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and a few Celebrations of Life. We still have difficulty meeting all the requests from Veterans and community organizations when they have short notice. This focus of our attention must continue if we are going to claim to have a fully-functioning Honor Guard.
  8. Better alignment of message
    • Keeping a visible and consistent flow of messages to our members continues to challenge us. So many on-line platforms (web site, blast emails, Team-up calendar, Facebook, Google ads, Yelp, etc., etc,) as well as our monthly printed flyer take considerable effort and over site. We need more focus on the totality of these tools to assure that the messages we send are not contradictory.
  1. More transparency of decision making
    • Here too, we can look to our messaging efforts to show how we have worked to develop an openness in all we are doing. Use of “Town Hall Meetings” reinforced our commitment to being open in our decisions. Expanding committees to include other than Legionnaires help with this goal. Continuation of our inter-unit “Core Team Meeting” does the same.

(End of report)

While our Club and Post are stable, we will continue to keep a close watch on our expenses, strive to assure that our organization is growing and continues to be a welcoming, friendly place to frequent. Every member of our family needs to continue to support our efforts and try to improve our collective treasure! Thank you to everyone who is helping to do that.


21 December 2017

Winter is officially here and most of the winter visitors have returned. It is great to see them coming back to support Post 44 and our Club.

The biggest change to report is the promotion of Chef Bernard Hilton to include the title of Club Manager. On November 20th, Chef Bernard assumed that larger responsibility and Tom Paul has worked closely with him as he transitions the responsibility. Be sure to sincerely thank Tom when you see him for all that he did to get the Club and Post back on-track during 2016 and 2017. And, be sure to congratulate Bernard. He has many great changes in the works that you will surely enjoy. We are very fortunate to have someone with his experience and skills supporting us here at Post 44!

New Years Eve promises to to be a great event shortly! Jimmy Snowden and Kim Jones will entertain us and the menu is outstanding. We must limit attendance to 120 people so get your reservations in quickly. Call the Club on 480-941-9053 for more details.

The trustees have been very busy cleaning, fixing and , in general, keeping the place running! Take a look at the patio to see some of their fine work. We owe them thanks for all they do to keep things working. I want to thank Mike Hatounian for installing the replacement strings of LED lights in our ballroom.

On behalf of my wife, Dorothy and myself, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a great Holiday season. Please continue to do all you can to support our great Post!


13 November 2017

We made it through Veteran’s Day weekend and did host a nice ceremony in the park. My sincere thanks to everyone who participated.

Our winter visitors continue to arrive and we are seeing more of them visit the Post and enjoy the food and drink provided by our Club. As you know, we have returned to having live entertainment Tuesday, Friday and Saturday and those nights continue to be pretty busy. I thank our staff for working hard to satisfy those customers. We all need to continue to support the Club and keep our profits strong so the Post can continue on the track we have established!

Randy Thomas and the Club and Program Committee continue to try to find ideas and events that can help fill in Wednesdays and other slower periods. This Wednesday, for example, we will be hosting a “Paint & Wine night”, which has not been done here before. If enough interest is generated, the Auxiliary may pick up the idea as an ongoing event.

We have scheduled the Early Bird dinner to be on December 13th and, if you plan to come dine, please make a reservation on 480-941-9053. This dinner is a “thank you” for getting your dues paid early. You still have a couple of weeks to get your “Early Bird” stamp on your membership card.

You should know by now that the Post will be closed on Thanksgiving day and again on Christmas Day. These two days are the only days scheduled to be closed. The Club will be having a Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday the 16th so you can get your taste for turkey satisfied.


3 October 2017

Now that the most exciting matter, the 2016-2017 Queen of Hearts “Campaign” has finally wound down, things around here are somewhat back to normal! We were all so pleased that Bernard Hilton, our chef, was the happy winner. The new game is starting tonight and we hope it will be at least half as successful and fun as the last one! Forest Wright, our current Senior Vice Commander, has volunteered to serve as our next Queen of Hearts Commissioner. The Post appreciates his willingness to help out even more.

We have restarted our Friday night music events and we are beginning to see our volumes increase as our winter visitors trickle back into the valley.  Please take the time to welcome them back to Post 44.

Randy Thomas is stepping up his involvement as our new Junior Vice and he continues to be so helpful to the Club and Post. Please be sure to thank him for all his work and ask him how you can help him to be successful. Always remember that the success of the Club is fundamental to the success of the Post!

Billy Estes is back from his gigantic world tour and is stepping right back into his normally helpful role at the Post. He chairs the “Charitable Causes Committee” that examines various requests for funding have been received. With the successful Queen of Hearts event, his committee has a substantial amount of budget money to work with.  If you have a proposed charity that you would propose we fund, be sure to contact the office or contact Billy directly.

October is pretty quiet around here. We do have Octoberfest and Halloween scheduled. Veteran’s Day planning is underway, and Post 44 is “Host Post” for this event once again. I am hopeful that we will have a strong turnout when that day gets here.

Until next time, remember to keep supporting the Post and Club so we can continue to provide comfort to our Legion family members and support for our chosen charities.


28 August 2017

Many thanks go out to everyone who covered the office during my long-delayed trip back east! I want to specifically recognize Forest Wright, Sully Truesdell, John Orendorff, Preacher Taylor and Bernard Lishinski. Several others stepped in when needed and that demonstrates the nature of our organization. Thank you!

Now that the summer is winding down, we will soon start to see our Winter Visitors arriving and the volumes will begin to ramp up in the Club and at our events. And, speaking of events, it is not long before our 10th annual “Patriot’s Day” is here, when we salute our First Responders by providing them with a complimentary lunch. That will be on Monday, September 11, from 11 AM until 2 PM. All Legion Family members are encouraged to join in and show our support for these fine community members.

We will be restarting regular Friday night live music in mid-September to attempt to get a bigger Friday night at the Club. Please try to come down to support the effort.

Finally, I don’t need to encourage you to support our Tuesday night Queen of Hearts drawing! This week, the jackpot will be about $68,000 and we are down to four cards. Many of us really think the winner will be drawn tomorrow, but the odds are still against that happening, if you can believe that! We plan to take a week off when the jackpot IS won, but will start up with a brand new game two weeks later. It has been a wonderful stimulus for the Club and Post and our sincerest thanks goes out to Wayne and Suzi for keeping up with all the action.

As always, thanks to everyone who has been supporting us through the summer months. As usual, we have a tight season, but we are emerging this year in solid financial shape, thank to our continuing support from all of you.


10 July 2017

It has been hot! Aren’t we all happy that we were able to move ahead with our replacement plan for our A/C? It does put our mind at ease now that we don’t have that worry over our heads.

We continue to work with the contractor and the insurance company and the actual repairs at Post 44 will begin this Wednesday. We will concentrate on the bar area and the dance floor first, then take more time rebuilding the bar in the big room. If we caught one break, this is all going on during our slow season!

And slow it has been! We really need those who stuck around for the summer to continue to support the Club and Post. Our only busy nights seem to be Saturday and Tuesday. Tuesdays are crazy around here! We are down to 11 cards left in the Queen of Hearts raffle and the jackpot will be close to $39,000 tomorrow. We don’t even have standing room at 6:30 any more. Overflow is moving into the big room, so at least guests can have a seat. The employees struggle, but keep up with the meals and beverages quite well, all things considered. Personally, I hope it goes for 11 more weeks!

However, I, personally will miss a lot of the fun and games if it does go on. Dorothy and I will be leaving this Thursday for a long-delayed trip back to the East Coast. We will be gone until late in August. I thank the “Coverage Team” who will cover the office during my absence. Sully, Forest,  Bernie, John, Preacher,and June… Most of the activity will be membership renewals, either by mail or walk-ins. By the way, 2018 cards are now available in the office, so stop in and be an “Early Bird” and support the Post at the same time.

Hoping everyone has a nice summer and can do fun things as well. Remember July 21st is our “Margaritaville Night” and make your reservations for that.


2 June 2017

We have had some very interesting times recently! At this moment, we have about 50 fans running to dry out the remaining moisture caused by our plumbing leak. We figured that about 3000 gallons of water (hot, no less) was sent throughout the Post yesterday morning! We lost the dance floor and things are still pretty hectic, but we were able to open for business this morning.

On a positive note, it looks like the damage will be covered by insurance, so we will not take a big financial hit for the problem!

We had a successful Memorial Day and both ceremonies went well. Lots of positive feedback from members and nonmembers. Many thanks to the speakers, the Honor Guard, the ALR folks, the scouts and everyone else who contributed to make the day a success.

Remember that we will celebrate Flag Day on Wednesday, June 14th at 11:00 AM in our parking lot. That event is always well received by those who can make it. Tom Paul plans to set out food as a “Member Appreciation Day” that day, as well.

The Queen of Hearts raffle continues to grow. Next Tuesday, we will have only 16 more cards to choose from and the jackpot will be up to $27,500! Tuesdays are chaotic around here and the business in the club is great! Thank you all for your support. Other than Tuesday, however, business is slow, as always in the summer around here. We really need your support to keep our revenues up to carry us through the summer. I think we have finally achieved stability in the kitchen and many people have complimented the food quality and the service. If you haven’t been in for awhile, please give it another try to see if you agree.


10 May 2017

Thanks to everyone who supported the slate of Officers for 2017-2018. There are many returning people, but the new officers are 1) Forest Wright, Senior Vice 2) Andrew Phillips, Junior Vice  3) Mike Sheridan, Historian and 4) Eddie Bogonovich, Member of the Executive Committee. Please try to support them as they assume their new duties.

Although business has dropped of by quite a bit since the winter visitors have gone back home, we are still seeing large crowds, especially on Saturday and, as long as the Queen of Hearts remains “unfound”, Tuesdays is packed around here. Many thanks to all who continue to support our club as much as possible.

May is a pretty busy month, with several special events. First, on the 14th, we will have our Mother’s Day brunch. Be sure to make reservations. Then, we move into our Patriotic Holidays, starting with Armed Forces Day on the 20th. Memorial Day on the 29th will involve many of us, as we are the Host Post this year. As always, we will have a ceremony at the old Camelback Cemetery on McDonald Road at 0800, followed by the ceremony at the Chaplain’s statue in the Civic Center at 1000. Not far beyond that will be Flag Day on June 14th with our traditional flag-burning.

Beyond these special events, remember that our regular, recurring events will go on almost every day. We all owe thanks to the people who make these things happen. The do not just occur by themselves. We are always in need of volunteers for these many important events. There is a volunteer sign-up sheet in the front hall, across from the office door. Please help out when you can, even if its only for a few hours every month.


4 April 2017

Spring Training is over and the winter visitors are starting to head back north! Time really does fly. We had a busy March with activities almost every day. I thank everyone who support our efforts here at Post 44 and remind you that we REALLY need you to come support us through the slow summer months. We will not slow down activities too much and will try to have something interesting (and tasty) for you every day!

Everyone is pretty aware that we have been going through a struggle in our kitchen. The unexpected loss of a few people has had a big impact on our ability to serve a crowd as well as on the quality of what we provide. Doug Hunt, Tom Paul and I, as well as the Club Committee are in constant discussion and action to get us back on track. Please try to work with us as we get back where we need to be. Continue to let us know about your disappointments, but any positive feedback is also appreciated.

This weekend is our next big entertainment special, our New Orleans Night, with our four major entertainers and a great Cajun menu. At this time, tickets are available at the bar, but they are going fast. And, our Easter Buffet is only a week after that. We aren’t selling tickets for Easter, but be sure to make a reservation.

Hopefully, you are aware of the nomination status for 2017-2018 Post Officers. We still need a candidate for Historian. I have received word that there will be a nominee for Senior Vice Commander at the April meeting.

On behalf of the Legionnaires, I want to sincerely thank the Auxiliary, the Sals, and the Riders for helping us to move forward on our air conditioning replacement plan. With this decision, we will put behind us for many years what has been our biggest worry! Again, thanks to the entire Legion Family!


3 March 2017

Well, we made it through a busy February and I again want to thank everyone who helped to make all of the events… The Four Chaplains Ceremony, Superbowl Sunday, Parada del Sol and the Past Presidents and Commander’s Dinner,  successes. Above and beyond these special events, several of you continue to help support Bingo, Queen of Hearts, Bar Bingo, Trivia as well as helping out in the kitchen and club! Such selfless acts of volunteerism and support are important to our success. So, Thank you!

I’m sure everyone who has been in to the club recently have noticed the new bar stools. These were donated by our fantastic auxiliary and we surely thank them for this generous gift.

Coming up this month are the St. Patrick’s Day menu and music by Randy Thomas and the joint initiation ceremony. Please participate and support all you  can.

This month, especially, with Spring Training in full swing, we become very aware of our very limited parking. Please do not park in our lot to attend a ball game. We need all the space we have to handle “paying customers”. Remember that Legion members can park in the Centurylink lot across Second Street on weekends and after 5PM.


14 February 2017

Many thanks to everyone who helped out at the Parada del Sol event last Saturday! Our entry in this year’s parade was amazing! Not only did we have our Honor Guard there (as they have been since the first Parada), we had a large contingent of ROTC students from Camelback High School, a float presented by the Auxiliary and a large group of American Legion Riders on their motorcycles! We were named the “Official Honor Guard of the Parada del Sol!

The Auxiliary delivered 32 new barstools to the Post last week and we really appreciate that donation!

Next Wednesday, 22 February, is our night to honor our past leaders. Come down to the Post to salute them and enjoy a great dinner for just $12.

Finally, we are at the peak of our visitor season and business is good. We are trying to get our food quality back on track since the surprise departure of our head chef two weeks ago. I have heard several complaints regarding food service and quality and, trust me, we are working hard to get our great reputation back. Please bear with us as we work on this problem. Don’t hesitate to let management know when you have a problem and we will do our best to satisfy you.


4 February 2017

We had a moderate turnout at the Four Chaplains Ceremony last night and I thank those of you who attended and, especially, those who participated. We hope to repeat this event annually on or about 3 February. If you missed it, consider coming in 2018. Feedback was very positive and supportive!

On the sad side, I received word late last night that Eddy Blanco, our Honor Guard Captain, passed away after a short battle with cancer. There are no further details at this time.

Coming up next Saturday, 11 February is the Parada del Sol. We plan to have a sizable entry in the parade with the Honor Guard and the Legion Riders AND, the Auxiliary will have their entry and a float! Show up and give everyone lots of support and appreciation for their hard work.


28 January 2017

We have had a busy January as well as a busy year! I would like to publish my “Annual Report” to give everyone an update of where we stand at year-end. I published my “Vision Statement” soon after I took office and I would like to present the annual report using the same topical format that I used earlier.

2016 Annual Report to Membership

    • Economic stability of Post and club
  • Membership loan program was implemented successfully and pulled us out of near-bankruptcy situation. Nine members loaned the Post a total of $25,500, mostly interest-free. Also, several straight-forward donations were made to support our needs. We have paid back three of the nine donors and have set up a special bank account to accrue the payoff of the other loans.
    • Tom Paul as JVC and Club Manager has pulled the Club out of its nosedive situation and has been able to turn over $51,000 in 2016. In January, we hired Tom as the Club Manager with the clear expectation set that we will continue to see strong club profitability and subsequent turnover to the Post.
    • We have virtually stopped spending monies for Post enhancement while we get our finances in order, spending only when absolutely necessary.
    • Set up a special fund for building maintenance with big start from November 12th FUNdraiser, thanks to Mike Hatounian
  • Increased volunteerism
    • We have continued to expand our use of volunteers at the club and post, not only to reduce costs, but to increase our closeness as a team. We still have a ways to go getting volunteers to step up to tasks that can perform. This will continue to be a focus point for both the Legion and the Auxiliary.
  • Increased focus on Fraternal aspects of Post
    • Every effort has been made to keep Post 44 the welcoming place it has always been. We are well known for our hospitality and that aspect has been pointed out all the way to our National Commander! We have expanded our “regular” activities to almost every day at the Post and we welcome all newcomers enthusiastically.
    • Have made special efforts to expand membership for active duty service men and women. Have added 20+ younger active-duty people to our ranks.
  • More support for veteran’s causes
    • A committee has been established to evaluate what charitable causes we should and could support. As a result, we have contributed $3000 to several veteran-related organizations, as required by our by-laws. The committee meets monthly to consider new requests and to manage a contribution budget.
  • More delegation of responsibility
    • A new Fund-raising committee and a messaging committee have been established to develop appropriate efforts to support the Post and club. Special efforts have been made to require other officers than the Commander to step up to decision-making as our by-laws specify.
  • More specific accountability for major events and projects
    • Commander has required that every major event have a chairperson and that “event planning guidelines” be used to assure accountability is being driven to one person. This procedure has helped to clarify what has been done or remains to be done to assure event successes.
  • Improved support for Honor Guard
    • This has been the area of least accomplishment thus far. Our Honor Guard (Color Guard) continues to be minimally staffed and our ability to support events has been disappointing to me personally. Efforts to explore a combined Honor Guard with other Scottsdale VSOs has gone nowhere.
  • Better alignment of message
    • The “Messaging Committee” meets monthly to review how we will communicate with the members and the public. Expansion of our web site, the use of tools such as our cloud-based calendar, coordinated signage in the Post, more use of social media and careful use of “blast emails” has done a fairly good job along with our continuing printing of our one-page “Newsletter” to keep membership aware of our activities.
  • More transparency of decision making
    • Here too, we can look to our messaging efforts to show how we have worked to develop an openness in all we are doing. Use of “Town Hall Meetings” reinforce our commitment to being open in our decisions. Expanding committees to include other than Legionnaires help with this goal. Continuation of our inter-unit “Core Team Meeting” does the same.

While we are not where we would like to be, we have made some very good progress and have plenty of feedback from members and visitors that our Post continues to be a great one! We should all feel good about what we have been able to do here at Post 44!

I want to thank everyone who has helped to make all of these accomplishments happen!


26 December 2016

Well, here it is. That “relaxing” slowed-down period between the craziness of Christmas day and the celebration of New Year’s Eve. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and got all the gifts they were hoping for! If not, this is the normal time to go back for exchanges or for finding the things you really wanted on deep discounts!

We will surely have a full house at the Legion Post this coming Saturday, when Tom Paul serves us the great “surf and turf” dinner and we enjoy the music by Jared Howe! Don’t wait any longer to get your tickets. We are capped at 120 and they are nearly gone now. Don’t be late.

At the December General Meeting last week, I announced that, with the approval of the E-Board, we have hired Tom Paul to serve as Club Manager, starting on January1, 2017. At that time, Doug Hunt has volunteered to serve the remaining term of Junior Vice Commander. Be sure to give them both your continued support as we move into the New Year.

January is lining up to be another event-filled month for the Legion family. Besides the regular events of each week such as Bingo, Queen of Hearts, Karaoke, Bar Bingo plus Friday & Saturday music and Trivia, we will be having a Luau, a Town Hall Meeting, a joint initiation ceremony! It is hard to keep all of that straight. Remember that you can use the link on our home page to get to our cloud-based calendar that Tom and I try to keep up to date.

As you know, we continue to rely on your support for all our programs and, at this time of the year, remember that any donations you can make can be considered on 2016 income taxes. Especially remember that, if you are required to take a distribution from IRAs or 401Ks, you can receive special tax advantages while helping the Legion. Check with your tax advisors, but move quickly.

Finally, it is really hard to believe that I have had the privilege to hold this position for eight months already! It will be no time until we will be talking about elections for next year. Consider what you might be able to do to support your Post in coming years. We will always need new blood and fresh ideas to keep things going here. Stop in if you would like to discuss these matters.


25 November 2016

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. Having the Post closed for a day allowed our staff to get some needed time off, too.

It was an honor and a pleasure to be visited by Charlie Schmidt, our National Commander and his entourage on December 16th. The fact that we were the first Post he came to in Arizona says a lot about our status. Many thanks to everyone who came down to see and talk to him.

The “FUNdraiser” on November 12th was a great success, and we owe continuing thanks to Mike and Chris Hatounian for that. Of course, we thank our entertainers for their donated time and we thank everyone who donated items for the big raffle. We now have a reasonable balance in our maintenance fund to fall back on when needed.

Veteran’s Day was good, but lightly attended at the Chaplain’s statue. I hoped for a bigger turnout, however, I think the majority of attendees WERE Post 44 members.

Our “Planned Giving Seminars” did not draw any interest. I realize this is a delicate and serious matter to even think about, however, for anyone who ever has an interest, we now have a mechanism to handle these matters.

In December, besides all the normally recurring events, we have a few special events to mention. First, the planned birthday party for Andy Jaime on December 4th had to be cancelled due to conflicts. Maybe we will more timely next year when the next birthday rolls around!

On December 14th, we will have our Earlybird Dinner for Legion, Auxiliary and SAL members who paid their dues by December 1st. Be SURE to make a reservation at the Club (9053) so we can be prepared! Guest meals will be available for $10. Tommy Paul has a really nice meal planned for us.

We will close at 6PM on Christmas Eve, and will be closed on Christmas day. There will be NO MUSIC on either Christmas EVE or December 30th.   New Year’s Eve will be similar to the November 12 affair. Semi-formal, tablecloths, etc. The meal will be New York Strip with Lobster tails, plus, plus! And for only $35 a person, we are  including a personal bottle of champagne! Try to match that anywhere else in Scottsdale!

I put out a call for volunteers to help on December 8,9, and 10th on a “post re-vitalization” project and did get a few responses. Membership is critical to the Post and to the Legion as a whole. I hope we can get a larger group who can dedicate 3-6 hours for this effort. Contact me or Sully Truesdell if you can help out.

I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to seeing all of you at OUR Post as often as possible!


Rodger Wells


28 October 2016

There are a lot of things going on at Post 44! At last night’s General Meeting we reviewed short and longer range plans for many items, and I want to be sure everyone is aware of what’s going on. The most important single thing that happened last night was when Junior Vice Commander (and acting Club Manager) Tom Paul gave his report and then turned over to the Post ANOTHER $12,000! This shows us all, in the clearest way possible, just how much is happening and changing. We all owe Tommy a huge “Thank you” for the enormous amount of work he does to improve everything at the Club. Also, thanks to all our great staff for the job they do to support us all.

Everyone should know that this Saturday is our gala Halloween Party, where Randy Thomas will be providing his always, first-class entertainment. Tommy Paul promises that the prizes this year will be great! So dig out that costume and come down to have some fun.

Next week on Wednesday we will present two seminars (4PM, 6PM) talking about Planned Giving programs to support Legion/Post 44 programs. Everyone has been hearing about this for a while, so come to one of the seminars to see how this could fit your own, or a friend’s situation.

Next weekend, several of our Post 44 family will be in Tucson attending the Department Fall Conference. If you are interested in attending, even if you haven’t pre-registered, you can sign up at the event.

When we get back from the conference, we are into the week of Veteran’s Day. Lots of programs are being held that week. On Wednesday, 9 November at 6:30PM, a special presentation for Vietnam Vets will be presented at the main Scottsdale Library. I will have a small piece of the agenda of that program. On Friday, November 11th, our regular service at the Chaplain’s statue in the Civic Center will be held at 11:00AM. DAV has the lead this year and I will also have a slot on that agenda, as well. Then, at 3:00PM, the City will sponsor their event at McCormick-Stillman Park that includes the Army band. Always a good show!

Our BIG EVENT will be on Saturday, 12 November when we will hold our first annual FUNdraiser here at the Post. This will be our premier event of the year and will feature FOUR musical entertainers and a spectacular raffle. Tickets are limited and are being sold at the Post now, along with raffle tickets. Don’t miss this one!

As a reminder, the Post will be closed on Thanksgiving Day to give our staff some time to be with their loved ones. Further out, we will schedule the Early-bird Dinner for 14 December. All early-bird members of each unit will attend at no charge for their meal. Guests will be asked to pay a modest price to participate.

Even further out, we already have Jared Howe booked for New Year’s Eve and that will also be a special night. We will be scheduling a “Past Commanders and Past Presidents” dinner sometime in January. Nicole Morris has volunteered to chair our Parada del Sol event, which will be held on 11 February. Thanks, Nicole!

We also plan to hold another Joint Initiation Ceremony sometime in January or February, and will be trying to have a second “Town Hall Meeting” in January.

I know I am leaving out a few items, but, as I said when I started, there is a LOT going on around here! How on earth do you keep up with it? Well, allow me to help with that! We have implemented a cloud-based, shared calendar where everything will be posted including entertainment, all the regular meetings and more as we go along. It will be the most current information we have. You can access this shared program by clicking on this link:

When you get to the calendar, create a bookmark in your browser or on your desktop so you can get to it quickly. There is also a smartphone app available so you can see it from your phone. Locate the app “Team-up” wherever you find apps (Google Play, istore, etc.). After you download and install it, when you open it, you must enter a key to Post 44’s calendar. That key is :    ksed5c0565584797a1

You only have to enter that key once (like a wi-fi password), then whenever you open the app, the current calendar will come up.

I hope I haven’t scared away any of you who might be a little technophobic, but it really is easy and looks like a great tool. Let me know what you think.

Well, I have rambled on too long for this month. I am really excited about how things have been going, and I know we will be having a great winter season. Many, many thanks to all of you who support Post 44 on a regular basis. Please, stay committed to us, and we will continue to do all we can to assure continued success!

Rodger Wells


September 28, 2016

I want to thank everyone who came out for our first “Town Hall” meeting on September 21st. While lightly attended, we did have a good discussion and the feedback encourages us to have similar events in the future. The next night, September 22nd, was the General Meeting and we had the normal light turnout there. Those of you who do take the time to come to these sessions are to be recognized for your involvement and support of the Post.

At the meeting, I believe the most important matter we discussed was the financial status of the Club and Post. Because of the enormous efforts being made by Tom Paul, the Club accounts have grown substantially and Tom presented a “turnover” check of $12,000 to Post 44! This represents the gains made during the slow summer months and is, I believe, unprecedented in our history. When you see Tommy around the Club (and he is usually there), thank him for his efforts and ask if there is any way to give him a hand. Also, we are running light on service staff in order to keep our costs under control, so be aware of that and consider it if your service is a bit slow some times. We do need more volunteers to help out!

By now everyone knows that June Moyer was lucky (again) and won our big Queen of Hearts game. She was also very generous and donated a substantial amount back to the Post, as well as drinks, meals, etc. Congratulations to June! The new game is underway and is working its way back up to respectable numbers, so please keep coming down on Tuesdays to support the game and have some fun as well.

Bar Bingo continues to do OK on Thursday nights, but I am hoping we will see a buildup as the season continues. It continues to be enjoyed by quite a few people and all four units of the Legion family are dedicated to keep it going as well. At the General meeting, I proposed starting a Wednesday evening Bingo game (NOT bar bingo) run by Legionnaires. If I can get a group of 10 volunteers who would keep that going, I will support an attempt at that. If you could help on Wednesday nights from about 6PM – 8PM, please contact me to get on the list.

We had to replace two backflow valves that have been around for a long time. The big one that supplies water for our fire sprinklers was quite expensive, but we really had no choice but to replace it. I guess if it isn’t one matter (air conditioning), it is another. Mike Hataunian is chairing a big “Maintenance Fund raising party” on November 12th. Mark your calendar for this spectacular night! More details will be published very soon. And, while I am mentioning entertainment, we have contracted with Jared Howe for New Year’s Eve. And, closer to now, come down for a “Free Beer & Food” night on October 19th, sponsored by Finance of America Mortgages. That will start at 5PM and should be a great night too.

You might know that we are starting live music on Friday night in October, so check out the schedule and make your reservations for those nights.

All of our other “regular” events are going on as well, so come down as often as you can and keep the Club and Post healthy.

Rodger Wells


August 31, 2016

Have you noticed that the high temperatures are starting to back down a bit? I’m sure we will continue to see triple digits for another month, but the cooler weather is in sight. And right behind that, we will see a step-up of the return of our seasonal members. We will be starting Friday night music again in October, so we should be increasing our business on Fridays. If we can keep the Queen of Hearts hidden (just kidding), our Tuesdays will continue to be HUGE!

Tom Paul is working a lot of hours to keep our Club revenues up and our costs down. As a result, we have seen a real turnaround in the Club finances. Please remember when service is a little subpar that we are working hard to keep the Club and Post financially stable.


I want to thank Past-Commander John Hyde for chairing our 9th of September “10th First Responder Appreciation luncheon”. John has always had strong personal support for the police, fire and EMT personnel and agreed to make this year’s event another big hit with the well-deserving people who serve us. Members are invited to join in for the lunch and to show your support. A price of $7  is being charged for members to offset the costs.

All of our regularly scheduled events (Bingo, Queen of Hearts/Karaoke, Bar Bingo, Music) continue to be well attended and I thank everyone for that. This continuing support is most helpful through the slow summer. And, thank goodness, we have made it so far with no more major failures to haunt us. Keep your fingers crossed!

While it seems like a long time from now, note that the Departmental Fall Conference is scheduled for November 4-6 in Tucson. If you are thinking of going, make your room reservations early. Details are posted on the bulletin board or you can stop in or call the office.

July 29th 2016
Friends and Legionnaires,
It sure is slow around here, as it always is this time of year! That is, except for the fantastic Tuesday evenings when a small army arrives on the scene. Randy Thomas continues to brag about how much of a draw his Karaoke is and I remind him that there might be some attraction to the substantial Queen of Hearts pot! At the time that I am writing this update, the total jackpot is approaching $12,500 and continues to grow at over $1000 each week. And, there are 21 cards left! I am hoping that the game can continue through September to keep up our Tuesday crowd. If someone does hit the jackpot before that, naturally, I will be happy for them, but I would expect to see the crowd drop off if the prize does go. (Unless Randy’s analysis IS correct!)   Thanks to Wayne, Susie, Randy and Billy Estes for making Tuesdays great!
Our Saturday night crowd continues to be strong and we are regularly filling the Club and selling out our prime rib dinners. Thanks for everyone who comes out to support OUR club! Mondays, after Bingo, and Thursdays, with Bar Bingo are doing OK, too.
Members are sending in their dues at a fast clip as well as stopping by the office to pay. This inflow of funds is helping to keep our bills paid, too. Beat the rush and be an early-bird! Pay your 2017 dues as soon as you can. Our new Adjutant, Mark Granholt, or Sully Truesdell, our Senior Vice, Larry Gingrich, our Executive Committee member and Service Officer  or I will cover our office hours so we can help you get paid up.
I am planning to take a week or ten days mid-August to participate in a family reunion back east. Now that we have a full complement of officers, we will be well supported while I am gone. I will always be available via email, cell phone, texting, skype, Facetime etc. if my personal involvement is needed.  I know everything will be fine!
Stay cool! (And we are keeping the Post cool…)
Rodger Wells

June 20, 2016

Legionnaires and Friends,
It has been a busy and fairly hectic month around here! And this is the time of year when things are at their slowest pace.
First, I want to tell everyone that because of the support from several generous members, we have been able to achieve our borrowing goals and should make it through the summer if no major problems emerge. Keep your fingers crossed for our air conditioners. Also, we did receive donations from some members as well as from our Auxiliary and Rider units. We owe them much appreciation.
We have a few new committees in place that will serve to support our goals. First, we have a Fund Raising Committee that meets every other Tuesday to discuss and plan efforts that could create entirely new sources of revenue for the Post. Also, we have a Messaging Committee that meets the Monday after the e-board meetings. Their job is to keep consistent information flowing to the members as well as the public using any method that we use. With the decision to discontinue the monthly newsletter, this is a very important matter. We must stress the use of channels such as this web site, emails, Facebook, etc., as well as club signage and possible advertisements in public media.
One area that I feel we are falling short in is our ability to support Veteran’s causes. I would like to have a committee of at least three people who can seek out and “vet” areas where we might want to become more involved.  I remind you that, as we struggle through our present financial situation, we will be limited in what we can do so far as donations are involved. Hopefully, as we get our own house in order, we will have a well-developed plan for when we can help support good causes.
The absolute key to our success rests in being able to make our Club profitable once again. Junior Vice Tom Paul is doing a tremendous job trying to keep our costs down while introducing many new items on our menu. There have been numerous staffing changes and all of us need to recognize what we are going through. Patience is urged and every member is encouraged to find a way to volunteer some time to keep everything running as smoothly as we can. Try to come down to support the Club (and Post) as often as you can. We must keep our volumes up as well as we can to get back on track.
Again, I thank everyone for allowing me to serve as Commander of Post 44. Although it has been a challenge for the first month, it is rewarding to continue to receive support and encouragement from so many of you. Please always feel free to contact me if I can answer any questions you may have.
Rodger Wells