Dave Gatt taking on new position in American Legion

Published 12:09 am Wednesday, June 8, 2016

LAPLACE — American Legion Post 383 has been a huge part of Dave Gatt’s life ever since he joined 25 years ago.

Dave Gatt points to his Legion cap, which displays different pins he has collected over the years, including one that says ‘Commander.’ After six years of holding the title, Gatt felt it was time to step down.

Dave Gatt points to his Legion cap, which displays different pins he has collected over the years, including one that says ‘Commander.’ After six years of holding the title, Gatt felt it was time to step down.

The United States Air Force Veteran joined the Legion to help Veterans like him experience camaraderie, get involved in the community and help local youth.

Gatt has been the Post’s Legion Commander for the past six years but he recently decided to step down.

“I’ve done my part and now it’s time for me to step back and let someone else take the reins,” Gatt said. “It’s always good to have fresh blood in the positions. We see that in the political spectrum, corporate spectrums and in this military spectrum we see it too. It’s good that someone wants to take it for a while, and I’ll still be involved. They’ll lean on me, I’m sure, for information and I’ll gladly give it, of course.”

Gatt is giving up the reins June 16 to Allan Reynaud, who Gatt considers a good friend.

“If no one wanted to position, I would have continued on, but (Reynaud) felt like he could handle it with my help,” Gatt said with a smile. “I said, ‘OK’. I could use some time off. My wife is asking me for time off too. I’m excited.”

Even though his time as Post Commander is coming to an end, Gatt is still going to be active.

“I’ve been designated as an officer,” he said. “The new commander said he was going to appoint me as the Chaplin. I will do whatever I can to assist Veterans of the Post and the area. I’ll help out with memorial services and give guidance anywhere that I can.”

Gatt said his favorite part of being Commander has been seeing Veterans grow within the Post.

“Membership has increased tremendously over the last years from 62 to 415,” he said. “Those Veterans that have taken part in what we do, such as meetings, activities and fundraisers — to see them step up and help gives me the most joy.”

The outgoing Commander said he has faith Reynaud is a qualified person to take command.

Reynaud has been a member of the American Legion for 25 years but he wasn’t active until about two years ago.

“I became active, honestly, because Dave Gatt came knocking on my door,” Reynaud said. “I was what we call ‘at large,’ and I didn’t belong to a local post. I belonged to the state post. Dave and others were doing recruiting. We sat down and talked and I transferred into the post.”

Reynaud only had positive things to say about the outgoing Commander.

“Dave is a very generous and giving man,” he said. “He has put his heart and soul into rebuilding LaPlace Post 383. He gives it his full attention, sometimes to his own personal detriment. He is very committed to Veterans and to the community. He deserves every bit of praise he has gotten and will receive.”

Reynaud is proud to be a member of Post 383, he said, adding they do a lot of good things.

“What I like about this post is that it’s a very active post,” he said.

“It does a lot of things for a lot of people. We have good youth programs. We support Boys State, Legion Baseball, Boy Scouts and the Young Marines.”

The incoming Commander wants residents to know American Legion Post 383 is very approachable and willing to help. If someone has an idea for something, all they have to do is bring it to a Post member, Reynaud said, adding if it’s viable, “we will run with it.”

Reynaud  has been in LaPlace for 35 years and has watched the community grow.

“There is a lot of things (Post 383) can be doing to help,” he said. “What I am looking forward to the most, with being commander, is working with my leadership team.

“This is a really good group of people. They’re honest, they have integrity, they care and they work hard to accomplish out goals.”

By Raquel Derganz Baker