Captain James Alan Simmons was elected as the 61st Commander-in-Chief of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) on October 17, 2015, during the sesquicentennial year of the Order.
Captain Simmons became a Hereditary Companion through the Pennsylvania Commandery, and in 1999, became a founding member of the Texas Commandery, eventually becoming Commander, and hosting the 2004 Congress in San Antonio. He joined on the service of his great great grandfather, Captain James Marion Simmons, 9th Kentucky Infantry Regiment. He has a total of 11 grandfathers, and 40 uncles, who fought on both sides of the war, with 4 grandfathers and 12 uncles serving together in the 9th Kentucky. In 2013, he became the second man to ever hold a National Office in both the MOLLUS and the Military Order of the Stars and Bars at the same time (the first being Past Commander-in-Chief Rev Jerry Carroon).
Born at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, in 1961, Captain Simmons has traveled the world ever since. His father, James Robert Simmons, Chief Master Sergeant, USAF Retired, also is a MOLLUS Hereditary Companion. James Alan caught the genealogy/military/history/aviation bug as a child, and proclaimed to his parents at an early age, “I’m going to fly jets”.
He received a four year USAF ROTC scholarship, graduating from Texas Christian University (TCU) in 1983, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, and was off to Navigator Flight Training at Mather AFB, California, where his father pinned on his Silver Wings 8 months later. Earning the top assignment out of his class of 60 men, he flew as a Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) in the F-4 Phantom II fighter, and also served as a Squadron and then Wing level Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO), working in the 347th Tactical Fighter Wing’s Weapons and Tactics Division. In 1988, now Captain Jim “Bull” Simmons separated from the USAF and started flying as a civilian pilot, becoming an instructor pilot, a corporate jet pilot in Texas, and a regional pilot for United Express out of Denver. In 1991, he was hired as a pilot for American Airlines, and in 2000, upgraded to Captain. He has flown all over the World for American Airlines, spending 12 of his 24 years flying International and crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans hundreds of times. He has flown the B-727, B-737, B-757, B-767, B-777, DC-10, MD-11, MD-80, and F-100, as well as an occasional WWII aircraft and helicopter.
Captain Simmons’ aviation career has not only fulfilled his proclamation to his parents, it has allowed him to meet and learn from interesting people from all over the globe. After two decades in the MOLLUS, his interest in the Civil War is as great as ever, and he still fondly remembers visiting the Lincoln Birthplace in Kentucky at age 8, accompanied by all four of his grandparents, each of whom had at least one grandfather who served.
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