Elected at the national convention, five vice commanders act as representatives of the national commander. They may preside over meetings of the National Executive Committee or the national convention, and perform other duties for the commander. No two vice commanders can be chosen from the same department during the same year.
Current national vice commanders:
Jerrold Wilson of Harrison, Ohio, a member of the Yeager Benson Memorial Post 199, joined The American Legion in 1980. He served as a post commander nine times, served as 4th District commander, Department of Ohio commander (1995-1996), alternate NEC member (1998-2000), and National Executive Committee member (2000-2002).
He served in the U.S. Army from 1968-1971. After serving in the military, he sold real estate and insurance for more than 40 years.
Active in his community, Wilson served on the Harrison Mayor’s Fund for 11 years and City of Harrison Board of Zoning and Appeals for 10 years. He was a volunteer referee for Harrison Community Basketball for over 20 years. Wilson was inducted into the Ohio Veteran’s Hall of Fame in 2016.
He has been married to the former Jean Wright for 49 years. They have two children, Tammie Campton who is a nurse and Jerrold “Woody” Wilson who is a command sergeant major in the U.S. Army. They have seven grandchildren.
Angel O. Narvaez
Angel O. Narvaez of Carolina, P.R., is a member of American Legion Pedro J. Rodriguez-Oquendo Post 129. He joined The American Legion in 2005 after his retirement from the military. Narvaez served in the U.S. Army from 1980 to 2004, beginning as a military policeman and advancing in ranks from private through first sergeant.
Narvaez served as Department of Puerto Rico commander (2013-2015) and National Executive Committeeman (2016-2021). He has served on several post, district, department and national committees. He most recently served on the VA&R national committee prior to his election as national vice commander. He is a graduate of The American Legion National College class of 2012.
Active in community service, he has served as Cub master and Scout master, P.R. Open (PGA) golf tournament volunteer, and is part of his church board. Narvaez has been married to the former Rosa Hilda (Taty) Velez since 2000. They have four children, Angel who works at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Michelle Haselhorst who is a homemaker, Amy B. Mazza who is copy writer, and Camille Quiñones who is a publicist.
Michael F. Mitrione
Michael F. Mitrione of Fredericksburg, Va., is a member of American Legion Post 55 and joined The American Legion in 1988. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1984 as a lieutenant colonel. His awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Air Medal (three awards), Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Army Commendation Medal (five awards), and Combat Infantryman badge.
Mitrione served as Department of Virginia commander (2010-2011), Alternate National Executive Committeeman (2014-2017) and National Executive Committeeman (2017-2021). Additionally, he has served on a number of national committees to include the National Security Committee/ Council, Committee on Committees, and NEC Liaison to the Finance Commission, as well as numerous positions at state regional, district and post levels.
In his spare time, Mitrione enjoys dancing, creating stained glass pieces, and earned a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do martial arts. He has been married to his wife, Joan, for 58 years, has two children and six grandchildren.
James T. Higuera
James T. Higuera of Downey, Calif., was born in Los Angeles and enlisted in the Army in 1963. Upon completing his training and security clearances, he was assigned to the U.S. Army Security Agency, 12th Special Operations Unit Kuma Station, Japan. He was honorably discharged from the service in January 1966 as a specialist five.
Higuera has been a member of The American Legion since 1966. He is a Paid Up for Life member of Downey Post 270 where he has served as commander. Higuera has served his district as chairman of various committees, elected and appointed offices, and was elected commander in 1994. Followed by his election as commander of the Los Angeles County Council of The American Legion in 1999.
He was elected department vice commander in 1996. He has served as department chairman of many commissions and committees and serves as the Ritual Chairman. In 2015, he was inducted into Pasadena Post 13 Hall of Fame for the Sons of The American Legion.
At the national level, Higuera has served on the Trophies, Awards and Ceremonial Committee and since 2008 has served on the National Convention Commission. In 2005 he served as president of the former National American Legion Press Association. Higuera also served as national historian in 2010.
Higuera has two daughters, Valerie and Hilary, and six grandchildren. Jim’s number one sweetheart Denise Conrad is a past Department of Ohio American Legion Auxiliary president, and is currently ALA National Community Service chairman 2021-22. Higuera’s hobbies include woodworking, photography, and collecting American Legion memorabilia.
Cory D. Bates
Cory D. Bates of Coventry, R.I., has been a life member of the Szelag-Peitras-Rekus-Mageria Post 81 since 2000. Bates served in the Army and National Guard from January 1982 through July 1992. He served with the Yankee Division, 26th Air Cavalry then with the 2nd Infantry Division and the 1st Ranger Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment. He is also a member of Sons of The American Legion and American Legion Riders with West Warwick Post 2 in West Warwick, R.I.
Bates has held many offices at the post level as well as being Post 81 commander for the last 12 years. At the department level, Bates has been the sergeant-at-arms, junior and senior vice commander. He was elected department commander in 2012 and achieved 100 percent membership for 2012-2013. He also served as Rhode Island’s Alternate National Executive Committeeman and National Executive Committeeman. He has held department chairmanships for the Oratorical, Children & Youth, and Finance commissions and is currently the American Legion Baseball chairman for Rhode Island. Bates is a 2010 graduate of the National American Legion College. He has served on national committees including National Security Council member, National Legislative Council member and as a current member of the Media and Communications Council.
Bates has a daughter and five grandchildren. He has been employed at Coventry Lumber since 2005 and is currently the president of the PNA Golf League.