With a quick wit and gravelly voice tinged by a bit of a drawl, Bill Long laughingly refers to himself as both a hillbilly and a redneck. Growing up, Bill, as well as the rest of his family, was always called by two names. His was Billy G. because he was named after his uncle and his aunt. However nowadays, he is respectfully referred to as Commander.
Bill was elected Commander of American Legion Post #241 on May 14th of this year. But his history with the post spans 27 years. Becoming more active the past 15 years, he first became an officer about nine years ago as 2nd Vice Commander and then was the Adjutant for two years. A recent major achievement, with the help of former Commander Dave Miller, was the purchase of a new bus for the Post. It took about eight months of negotiations but they are getting a whole lot of great use out of it.
His job entails helping to support groups within the Legion. The Family Group, the Sons of the American Legion, the Auxiliary and the American Legion Riders. Combined, they total over 1,200 members. Bill says he is “extremely blessed to have the best Executive Board he could ever ask for.” Another activity he is extremely proud to be involved in is the Honor Guard. They are present at military funerals with a “Final Salute”, not just for members of Post #241 but for anyone who seeks their help to honor a deceased Veteran. They did 145 funerals in 2015 and have already performed 83 for their fiscal year that began in April. “This just shows how devoted our members are,” he states.
Bill’s military background began in 1971 when he served in the Army in the Artillery division. Throughout his career, he had 13 different secondaries. His tour began with basic training at Fort Campbell, he then moved to Fort Sill, did a stint in Korea that included special duty in Vietnam and finally worked in the communications warehouse at Fort Bragg, discharging in 1978.
Shortly before deploying, Bill married wife Sharon and on October 31st they will celebrate 43 wonderful years. They are blessed with one daughter Laycie and three grandchildren; Sierra who is 18 and attending IU; Patrick, 13 who attends Kekionga; and Elizabeth, better known as “Izzy” who is five. With the exception of his time serving, Bill has lived in the Waynedale area since 1963. Just in time for his senior year, he was among the first class to graduate from Wayne High School.
Bill worked at Trainer’s Gas Station and the Bluffton Road Hall’s Drive-In. He was a volunteer firefighter with the Wayne Township Fire Department, and then became a paid medic and engineer. In 1998, he and his brother started G & L Enterprises, which initially provided mowing and power washing services but grew to a full service asphalt paving and maintenance company. In 2009 Bill and Sharon bought out his brother and they eventually sold the business due to health issues that Bill developed which caused him to retire early.
He has lost almost 100 pounds over the past year. No longer able to do many of his favorite hobbies, Bill spends most of his time at the Legion or on the computer in serious Texas Hold ‘Em competitions.
American Legion Post #241 stays very active. They do treasure hunts, bingo and karaoke. Live bands perform every Friday night and their kitchen is open seven days a week. They have a Junior Shooting Program and host family nights. They are very supportive of the Waynedale Community as well, providing a flag disposal program, participating in the Waynedale Memorial Day parade and conducting the military service in the cemetery that follows. They are proud members of the Waynedale Business Chamber and champion the Elmhurst Little League. They support the annual Waynedale Picnic and Trails and Sidewalks Initiative. Last year they sponsored a Veteran Expo which included a traveling Memorial Wall named “Remember the Fallen” that was on display for a week honoring service men and women from Indiana who lost their lives in service to our country. It honored two Elmhurst graduates and a bench dedicated to one of them now has a permanent home at the Legion.
Just about three years ago, Post #241 began providing breakfast to the Veterans slated to go on an Honor Flight. Thus began a new tradition and Post #241 has made breakfast for every flight since then. Greg Spaulding, Squadron Commander of the Sons of the American Legion, said, “Bill is dedicated to the American Legion and its programs and Post #241. One of the main projects he has gotten us involved in is the Honor Flight breakfast. This project is dear to Bill’s heart and it is an honor for all of us to help send these deserving men and women off to Washington.”
To learn more about American Legion Post #241, visit their website www.waynedalepost241.org or give ol’ Billy G. a call at the Legion. Just don’t cause any drama, because there is one thing Bill won’t tolerate and it’s drama!