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John Henry Geiger
National Commander, American Legion

In office
1971–1972
Preceded by Alfred P. Chamie
Succeeded by Joe L. Matthews
Personal details
Born (1925-06-19)June 19, 1925
Council Bluffs, Iowa, U.S.
Died January 10, 2011(2011-01-10) (aged 85)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Spouse(s) Vivienne DeBaets Geiger
Military service
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1944-1945
Unit 4th Armored Division, 11th Armored Division
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Battle of the Bulge

John Henry Geiger (June 19, 1926 – January 10, 2011) was an American Legion National Commander from 1971–1972 during the Vietnam War, he served during the Second World War in the 11th Armored Division and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn named May 1 " John Geiger Day" in his honor.[1]

Early life[]

John Geiger was born to Hugo and Martha Geiger in Council Bluffs, Iowa on June 19, 1925.[2][3] He moved several times during his youth, living in Minden, Crespo, Belle Plaine, and Winterset Iowa.[2] His father directed units of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.[2][3] His father Hugo was influential in bringing the American Legion to Iowa starting John's interest in the subject.[2][3]

Military service[]

At age 17, Geiger joined the American Army.[2][3] He served in the 11th Armored Division,[3] 42nd Tank Battalion, and then the 4th Armored Division, 35th Tank Battalion.[2] During Geiger's service, he participated in the Battle of the Bulge and the Army of Occupation in Germany.[3] After the war ended Geiger returned to the United States.

Civilian life[]

Upon returning to the United States, Geiger went to the University of Illinois where he received an Architecture and an Engineering degree.[2][3] Geiger returned to Iowa and started his own architecture firm, "John H. Geiger and Associates".[3] In 1966, he was offered a position at United Airlines, which he accepted.[2] While famed architect Helmut Jahn designed United's O'Hare Terminal 1 in 1987, Geiger who supervised its construction.[3]

American Legion career[]

Geiger joined the American Legion before leaving active service in 1945.[4] Geiger having experince with the Legion through his father succeeded, becoming Illinois Commander in 1960 and National Commander in 1971.[3][4] His tenure as National Commander was marked with his campaign for better healthcare for veterans and opposition to blanket amnesty for draft dodgers.[3][5] Geiger was also a staunch defender of presidential power during the Vietnam war saying, " Any limitations on the ability of the president as commander in chief to conduct military operations in southeast Asian would endanger the lives of our fighting men and make more difficult the achievement of a just peace".[6] Geiger believed those who objected to President Richard Nixon's war policies were " divisive and defeatist and likely to encourage Hanoi in its demands".[6] On 1 March 1971, Geiger spoke before the US Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure of the Committee on Judiciary on the American Legion's opposition to draft dodging,[7] he believed Amnesty would devastate morale of those who served in the war and dishonored the memory of the dead. A large project of Geiger's was the Three Letter Campaign as Geiger advised each member of the legion to write three letters: one to their congressman and one to each senator.[4] The purpose of the campaign was to improve the GI Bill for veterans of Vietnam.[3] He later served on the National Commander's Advisory Committee from 1978 to 1999.[3]

Personal life[]

John Geiger had a wife named Vivienne DeBaets Geiger who died in 1992, a companion named Florence Tanka, six children, 10 grand children and four great grandchildren.[2][3][4]

References[]

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