County resident holds national office
D.T. “Shorty” Simmons served with the Army in the Vietnam Era. When he left active duty his sense of patriotism led him to membership in the American Legion. 37 years later his dedication to the Legion and its ideals was rewarded when Simmons was appointed a national vice commander.
Simmons is one of five vice commanders who act as representatives of the national commander. His duties involve an area that covers 12 states. A portion of those duties is being involved with membership issues, a portion is being a general representative of the Legion at various functions and he also may be requested by the national commander to preside over meetings of the National Executive Committee of the National Convention or any other duty that the national commander may require him to do.
Simmons career with the American Legion started with Post 493 in Nederland.
One of his first jobs was to place out the concrete blocks that served as flag holders on the downtown streets. The post would place out the flags on holidays and for patriotic days such as Flag Day. “The age of the members of the post was getting older and they needed some young guys to handle those blocks. That is one of the reasons they recruited me. I joined, and 37 years later I am still a member of that post,” said Simmons.
His first elected office outside his home post was that of district commander. He served in that office from 1988 to 1990.
In 1999 he was elected division commander and served from 1999 to 2000.
As division commander he was in charge of the Second Division. There are four divisions in Texas.
In 2002 and 2003 he was elected department vice commander and in 2004 and 2005 he served as department commander.
“The year I was department commander Marv Howland was the department chaplain. Marv and I have been together for a number of years,” said Simmons. “I was appointed to the National Americanism Committee and served on that committee until I was elected National Vice Commander at the convention in Phoenix in Aug., 2008.”
Simmons time as national vice commander has been a busy time for him. “I do a good bit of travel. I just returned from a trip that took me to Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina.
It probably will not be too long before I hit the road again,” said Simmons.
When his time as vice commander ends Simmons plans to return to his first love, the Americanism Committee. “I’m ready to go back to the Committee and get back to the work that the committee does. The national office has been an honor, but I have other things that I would like to accomplish now,” said Simmons, who holds dual membership in the American Legion and the Sons of the American Legion. He also holds a life membership in AmVets, and is project chairman with the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. He is a Mason, Scottish Rite and a member of the El Mina Shrine where he works as a Shrine clown.
Simmons’ wife Donita is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary. They have two sons; one is a member of the American Legion and the other a member of the Sons of the American Legion. Their daughter is a member or the American Legion Auxiliary. “I guess you can say we are a family that is a part of the Legion family. We all enjoy our memberships and believe in the Legion and its ideals,” said Simmons, a native of Mittie, La. He is a retired supervisor from the Texaco Asphalt plant in Port Neches. He and his wife live in Vidor.