The Commanders Club of Michigan was formed in 1962 by a group of politically interested business leaders and state government officials from around Michigan with the assistance of then-governor John B. Swainson. It was to provide a formal organization to utilize the interest, time and facilities of the Honorary Commanders duly appointed to that position in the Michigan Military establishment.
The purpose of the club is to promote the best interests of the State of Michigan, particularly in the areas maritime affairs; support the Michigan Department Military and Veterans Affairs and assist in the promotion and expansion of recruiting, training and educational facilities of maritime oriented associations. As a member of this organization, you are issued an honorary commission by the Governor, Adjutant General and Secretary of State, under authority of the Michigan Constitution and Act 60 of the Michigan Public Acts of 1969.
The Commanders Club was instrumental in sponsoring the legislation in the Michigan Senate that helped to establish the Great Lakes Maritime Academy at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City in 1969. GLMA is one of only six state maritime academies authorized by the Federal government to train future Merchant Mariners. The Commanders Club have also assisted with the establishment of legislation in water safety and boating controls in and on the Great Lakes.
On October 1, 1965 the 106 yacht Helene was commissioned as the official flagship of the Michigan Commanders Club. The ceremony was attended by such honored guests as Gov. John B. Swainson, Detroit Mayor Jerome P. Cavanaugh and leaders of the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy. It has since been sold, but still sails on the Great Lakes today.
After the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975 in Lake Superior, the Commanders Club prepared and presented a bronze memorial to the Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie, which has been placed at the Soo Locks. The ceremony took place in the Governors Room at the State Capitol and was officiated by Governor William G. Milliken.
More recently, the Commanders Club sponsors and provides financial support to the youth ages 11 through 18 in two U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Units and two U.S. Navy League Cadet Units in Grand Rapids and Lansing, Michigan.
The Commanders Club was involved with the naming of the nuclear submarine, USS MICHIGAN (SSGN-727) and maintains an ongoing relationship with her officers and crew. The Commanders Club also is working on establishing a relationship with the USS GERALD R. FORD (CVN-78). Eight Commanders attended the commissioning ceremony in Norfolk, Virginia on 22 Jul 2017. Several Commanders also attended the commissioning ceremonies of the USS FREEDOM (LCS-1) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2008; the USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN-77) in Norfolk, Virginia in 2009; and the USS DETROIT (LCS-7) in Detroit, Michigan 22 OCT 2016..
The Commanders Club has assisted the U.S. Navy with recruiting efforts in the Navy Nurse Corps and has supported Navy Recruiting District Michigan in their outreach and recruiting efforts. Michigan Commanders have also assisted in placing graduating Sea Cadets into all of the U.S. Service Academies, Navy ROTC, and other ROTC Programs, U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, and Michigan Army and Air National Guard.
The Commanders Club plays a leading role in Detroit Navy Week; hosting visiting flag officers; and has participated in other Navy activities and air shows in the Michigan region.
Currently the Commanders meet nine times each year for a business meeting, dinner, and hosting interesting guest speakers. The Commanders attend and financially support, a number of social events, which include the Commanders Ball/Change-of-Command Ceremony, U.S. Navy Ball, U.S. Coast Guard Memorial and Parade in Grand Haven, Michigan, the Michigan Adjutant General's Social at Camp Grayling, Michigan, and annually attend the U.S. Navy Recruit Graduation at Navy Training Center Great Lakes, Illinois as Guests of Honor. The Commanders Club also enjoy a weekend on Mackinac Island each year and attend various other social events. Most all of the events are attended by the Commanders, spouses and family members.
The Commanders Club of Michigan offers an opportunity to be associated with other Honorary Commanders who represent a broad cross-section of Michigan business, professional and governmental leadership. The man or woman who becomes a Michigan Commander shall follow the Navy core value of HONOR, COURAGE and COMMITMENT. They shall expect to find an opportunity to learn, be inspired, to be challenged and respected and be proud to be a member of an organization committed to promoting the State of Michigan, its military and maritime establishment in addition to the statutory requirements.
BECOMING A MEMBER
Your sponsor will invite you to attend a regular meeting of the Commanders Club which takes place the second Thursday of the month (September-June) at the Walnut Hills Golf Course, East Lansing, MI.
Your sponsor will give you a packet of information along with an application during your attendance at a second meeting. This will be submitted to the Board of Directors for approval. Pending approval of your application and payment of your initiation fees, you will be officially recognized as a member in good standing of the Commanders Club of Michigan and will be commissioned at the next regular meeting.
Although many of the Commanders served in, or retired from the military, prior military service is not a prerequisite for membership in the Commanders Club of Michigan.