Monday, October 2, 2023

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Legion Riders present Col. Bill Altgilbers with lost military shirt

LANSING, Ill. (September 2, 2023) — Col. Bill Altgilbers, treasurer and member of the Legion Riders at American Legion Post 697 in Lansing, Illinois, thought he had bid farewell to his original army fatigues, until a chance discovery at America’s Antique Mall in Highland, Indiana, brought the camo shirt back into his life.

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Michelle Graves, an employee at Post 697, noticed the military shirt while perusing the antique store’s offerings. Recognizing the Altgilbers name on the badge, Graves texted a photo to Greg Altgilbers, Bill’s nephew who is also a member of Post 697. “I sent pictures around [to my family] to see whose uniform this was,” said Greg at the meeting. “And I sent it to our member Uncle Bill — and this was his uniform from 1971.” Bill Altgilbers was a second lieutenant at that time, the standard entry-level rank for commissioned Army officers. By the time he retired he was a full-bird colonel.

Greg joked about the implications of the shirt being found at an antique shop. “I never thought I could give my uncle an antique — that belonged to him!” The group responded with cheers and laughter.

“I understand that this is antique,” said Bill, “but I have no idea how it ended up at an antique shop!” Urged by the crowd to try it on, he removed his Legion Rider vest, unbuttoned the shirt, and squeezed into it without too much effort.

The Riders purchased the shirt from the thrift store using $42.80 from their treasury funds. They officially presented it to Bill as part of their August 30 meeting.

Col. Bill Altgilbers, treasurer of the Legion Riders at American Legion Post 697, was reunited with his old army shirt at the Riders’ August 30 meeting. He was able to don the shirt and almost close it. (Photos: Melanie Jongsma)

The Legion Riders meet at American Legion Post 697, located at 18255 Grant Street in Lansing, Illinois. Their Facebook page is

American Legion Post 697 is located at 18255 Grant Street in Lansing, Illinois. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)


Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.