First State Commander

Myron Lewis Shade

First Elected Commander

South Dakota Department

1919 - 1920

Though Custer Post #46 has had many notable members, one occupies a unique position, M.L. Shade, the American Legion's first elected South Dakota Department Commander. Extracted from "The American Legion in South Dakota - The First Quarter Century" published May 10, 1949:

"Myron Lewis Shade was born on a farm in Bureau County, Illinois, on May 23, 1875. He was the second of a family of five children. It was here that he spent fifteen years attending school.

Later he resided in Warren County, Iowa. When President McKinley called for volunteers for the war with Spain, in 1898, he enlisted in Company D, 51st, Iowa Volunteer Infantry. When the 51st Iowa Infantry was ordered home, from the Philippines, he re-enlisted in the 36th United States Infantry, commanded by Franklin J. Bell. During this period he served under Major General Mathew Tinley, E. E. Booth, John. F. Bell, and Lieutenant General Ben Lear Jr., and after returning to the United States he joined the Illinois National Guard. He was Captain of Company K, 3rd Regiment, Illinois National Guard.

In 1904 he was united in marriage to Miss Jennie Giesie, Prinston, Illinois. They have one adopted son. In 1913 they came to south Dakota, where they now make their home.

Upon his arrival in South Dakota, he enlisted in the South Dakota National Guard. He was Captain of Company F, 4th, South Dakota Infantry for five years. He was appointed Chief of Police of the city of Mitchell, South Dakota, for one year. When the National Guard was called to the Mexican border, in 1916, he was promoted to Major and commanded the 3rd, and later the 4th, South Dakota National Guard. When the regiment was called for duty, in World War I, they were sent to Camp Green, North Carolina, where Companies E, F, and G, became the 116th Supply Train, which he had command. They arrived in France the last of 1917 and were stationed at La Courtine, and later were assigned to the first replacement Division at St. Aignam-Noyers, where he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He was Member General Court, Divisional Motor Transport Officer, Director Chauffers and Mechanics Schools, Commanding Officer German Prisoner of War Camp, Commanding Officer Disciplinary Barracks. After the armistice he was transferred to Romorantin, in charge of a Motor Replacement Depot. He returned to the United States May 30th, 1919.

Upon his arrival he had an appointment to the State Highway Commission waiting for him which he accepted. He has served as the Superintendent of Custer State Park and Superintendent of the C. C. C.

He is a Past Commander of the Spanish War Veterans as well as the First Department Commander of The American Legion in South Dakota. He is a member of the State Historical Society, for 22 years, a member of the Masonic Order for 45 years.

He has been living in retirement in a cottage on a trout stream in Custer State Park with his second wife, formerly Mrs. Margaret Ewart, who is doing her best to keep him from 'joining up' for service again."

Lieutenant Colonel Shade's accomplishments far exceeded those described in his above biography, for example; he was twice Commander of Custer Post #46, American Legion, in 1926 and 1930. Col. Shade passed away August 7th, 1949. A Spanish American War veterans’ ritualistic service was conducted for him at the Battle Mountain Veterans hospital chapel. Masonic services were conducted graveside by Custer City Lodge #66 A.F. & A.M. of which he was a member. He is buried in Section 7 Row 3 Site 15 of the Hot Springs National Cemetery, South Dakota. More details of Col. Shade's fascinating life can be glimpsed in his below attached obituary.