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story.lead_photo.caption Past American Legion Post 5 Commander and current Judge Advocate Charlie Goodin, left, laughs and embraces incoming Commander Gary Kempker as he officially installs Kempker as commander of the post at Tuesday's special ceremony. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.

A former director of the Missouri departments of Corrections and Public Safety, as well as former Jefferson City police chief and interim Cole County sheriff, has been chosen to take command of the largest American Legion post in Missouri.

Gary Kempker was installed Tuesday night during ceremonies at American Legion Post 5 on Tanner Bridge Road.

Kempker was unanimously voted in as commander earlier this summer and will oversee the daily operations of the post along with a leadership team of fellow elected officers, according to a news release from the post.

Kempker is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force with a 40-year law enforcement career. He is currently employed as a deputy marshal for the 19th Circuit Court in Cole County.

"Being able to serve my fellow veterans, their families and our community is one the of the greatest professional honors I've ever received, and I am truly humbled being entrusted to lead our dedicated and hard-working post volunteers," Kempker said in the news release. "For more than a century, Post 5 has been an integral part of giving back to our veterans and our community, and we expect to continue that tradition of selflessness for the next 100 years."

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