Our First Post Commander
The American Legion Joseph B. Westnedge Post 36
Captain James M. Wilson Joseph B. Westnedge Post 36 First Commander
Captain James M. Wilson was one of the founding members of the American Legion Joseph B. Westnedge Post 36. He was elected as the first commander of our Post, and he served as commander for two terms 1919-1920. James McMeekan Wilson was born in Bloomingdale MI on June 17, 1893, the son of Charles and Mary (McMeekan) Wilson. After graduating from Kalamazoo High School and Parsons Business College, he enlisted in the Michigan National Guard in April 1912, serving with Co. D, 32d Mich. Inf. during the Jackson Prison riot and the Mexican Border Crisis. When the 32d “Red Arrow” Div. was organized James joined the regular Army and was commissioned 2LT on 31 Oct. '17. They sailed for France on 1 Feb. 1918, with James assigned as a Scout Officer with 1 Bn, 126TH Inf. For his actions on July 8 near Ammertzwiller, Alsace, James was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. According to the citation- “Second Lieutenant Wilson returned under fire into enemy barbed-wire to recover two of his patrol who were missing after a raid, and, although painfully wounded himself, brought them safely to the American trenches, concealing the fact of his injury until he had succeeded in his undertaking and fainted from exhaustion.” James returned to duty on Aug. 19 and was promoted to 1LT. He was gassed on Sep. 8 at Juvigny, and then severely wounded on Oct 15 near Romange. He returned to duty in Jan. 1919 and was promoted Capt. on Mar. 18th. Capt. Wilson was medically retired Jun. 10, 1919. During his military career he was awarded the DSC, the French Legion of Honour, the Belgian Order of the Crown, the Meritorious Service Citation, and the Croix de Guerre with 2 palms and bronze star. He received a special citation for bravery in action from Gen. John J. Pershing. And, on Nov. 11, 1932 he was accorded the Purple Heart w/3 oak leaf clusters. After the war, James started an insurance agency, which later evolved into James M. Wilson Agency, Inc. and J. M. Wilson Corp. On April 17, 1920, James married Margaret I. Hoag. They had 3 children. Their son, James M., Jr. served during WWII. James was a staunch Republican and he was elected to Michigan State House of Representatives in 1928, re-elected in '30, '32, and '34. James is interred at Mount Ever-Rest South, in Kalamazoo. References- Kalamazoogenealogy.org and 32nd-division.org