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      VFW commander removed from office

      State VFW officials fired one local veteran from his post for his fired-up fight against the state smoking ban.

      Just a few weeks ago, club members were lighting up inside Ottumwa TMs Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 775.

      The club TMs commander, Denny Whitson, strongly opposed the smoking ban and didn TMt enforce it at the club.

      Now state officials have given the leader of the club's anti-smoking ban movement the boot.

      The state commander recently removed Commander Whitson from office for not following VFW bi-laws, which require commanders to follow all state laws.

      Whitson told KTVO that the state VFW leaders threatened to remove the charter and close the club on the spot if they didn't start following the law.

      I said we may have lost the battle but lets not lose the fort. So we took the ash trays off the tables, and we're no longer smoking in the club, Whitson said.

      Whitson also said his battle isn't so much a smoking battle, but a fight for civil rights and veteran's rights.

      The former commander told KTVO that he still plans to continue his efforts to make the ban go up in smoke.