Department Officers

Department 1st Vice Commander / Membership

Dan Cooper    

I earned my eligibility while serving as a U.S. Marine during the Vietnam era from 1971–1975, serving as an Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Specialist.

In 2004 I joined The American Legion, Post 6 in Holland and have served in most leadership positions in the Post, District, Zone, and the Department. With a degree in business administration, I have been a licensed general contractor for over 30 years. I retired from Consumers Energy after 22 years as a Power Plant Operator.

My wife Virginia and I have been married for 49 years and have raised two children, Jim and Jennifer. I enjoy taking my fishing boat out on inland lakes, and sometimes will actually fish. My other hobbies are working on and restoring antique tractors and cars, leather crafts, and woodworking.

Department 2nd Vice Commander / Americanism Chairman

Wayne Blank

As an Air Force Veteran of the Vietnam Era1967-1971, I am proud to serve my Fellow Veterans as 2nd Vice Commander for the Department of Michigan. I was born and raised in Monroe, Michigan, attending 12 years of primary school and continuing at Monroe County Community College. I later studied drafting at the Stautzenberger Drafting School.

At the Post level, I have been Judge Advocate, Commander, 1st vice Commander, Finance officer, Riders Director, and Detachment Commander of the SAL. I have also served at the District level as Commander, Adjutant, and Finance Officer. Before being elected to my current position of 2nd Vice Commander, I was the Commander of Zone 2.

I am dedicated to my community and, for 4 years, have been a Trustee for the Monroe Township. Furthermore, I for 2 years have been the Director of the Bedford Vets Center. I serve as a Trustee of my Church and the Vice President of my HOA. I am also a National Rifle Association Instructor and Training Counselor.

Department Adjutant - Ronald Runyan

Ron earned his eligibility from the Persian Gulf War. A U.S. Navy veteran, served aboard the USS Longbeach CGN-9 from 1988-1991 and active Navy reserves from 1991-1993. He then joined The American Legion in 1997. While serving aboard the Longbeach a World Cruise was completed, Desert Shield & Desert Strom, Panama and Coast Guard operations were conducted.

A graduate of National Institute of Technology; Schoolcraft College degree in Electronic Engineering and current student at Columbia Southern University achieving a degree in Business Administration.

Ron has two wonderful children Jessica and Mikael and a granddaughter's Addison and Della. In his free time he likes to walk the beaches of Michigan lakes finding rocks as an avid rockhoud, and tumbles and polishes them for gifts. If rocks were not enough, Ron also loves music and concerts.

Finance Officer 

John Bradford

John Bradford





Norm Soli

In 1972, I signed up for enlistment into the United States Navy by a recruiter in Marquette, Michigan. On October 31, 1972, I was sworn in as a seaman recruit and finished boot camp at the Naval Training Center in Orlando, Florida.  I was trained in Interior Communications at Class A and Class C schools in San Diego and Great Lakes.

In September of 1973, I was helicoptered from a supply ship to the attack aircraft carrier USS Hancock CVA 19, which was already deployed and operating off the coast of Vietnam in an area known as Yankee Station.  When our rotation was over, and we were heading for Australia, the Hancock was diverted to the Indian Ocean in response to the Yom Kippur War.  We secured free passage through the Red Sea, which the Soviet Navy was threatening.  After 59 days at sea, we docked in the Philippine Islands.

In January 1975, I transferred to the carrier USS Independence CV 62.  Due to a non-combat service-connected condition, I received an honorable discharge on April 18, 1975.

I’ve been active in three local churches since 1983 and currently attend Michigan Center Bible Church.  I lead a Community Group in our church and, over the years, have performed funeral services, made hospital visits and performed other church-related activities as a layperson. 16 years ago, I joined the American Legion. In April 2011, I accepted the position of Chaplain of the Rose City Post in Jackson.  In 2016, I accepted the position of 2nd District Chaplain.  I have an interest in serving my fellow veterans who are in assisted living facilities or facing end-of-life.  I look forward to serving as your Department Chaplain for the next year.

One of my favorite Scripture passages is Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Sgt at Arms

Bob Salamon



Judge Advocate 


Barry Wood

I have been a member since 2000.

After graduating from Hastings High School, I went to Kellogg Community College and earned an associate's in Drafting and Design Technology and metallurgy. Hawaii Pacific University for my Bachelor in Computer Information Systems, and also at Western Michigan University for a Master of Public Administration major in local government.

I served in the U.S. Navy from 1965-71 and in the U.S. Army from 1973-1989 (retired).

With the American Legion Department of Michigan, I have served two terms as the Department Commander 2019-2021, Department Finance Officer 2017-2019, Department Membership Director, and a Zone Commander. My other offices include Direct Mail Solicitation Coordinator, District Commander, District Adjutant, Post 45 Commander, Post 45 Adjutant, Post 45 Chaplain, and SAL Squadron 45 Commander.

I am also a member of the National Security Council.


Bob Higley

Bob earned his eligibility during the Grenada/Panama era. He served in the Army National Guard as a scout for a TOW missile Battalion. Bob is a 24-year PUFL member. He has served as Department historian, membership director and assistant membership director. At the District level, he has served as commander, alternate commander, finance officer, historian and sergeant-at-arms. At the post level, he has served as commander, senior vice-commander, adjutant, finance officer, historian and chaplain. Bob is also a 2014 graduate of the National American Legion College and is currently on the National Security Commission.


A graduate of Lawrence Technological University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Engineering, he has been employed as a construction superintendent for over 30 years. Bob has a 35-year-old son, Matt, who is a member of the Sons of The American Legion.