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july/august Issue

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / President's Message / Letters / VVAF Report / Government Relations / Ask The Parliamentarian / Public Affairs Committee Report / Region 9 Report / From The National Secretary / PTSD/Substance Abbuse Report / Disaster Relief Committee Report / SHAD/Project 112 Task Force Report / AVVA Report / TAPS / Veterans Initiative Task Force Report / Arts of War / Book Review / Membership Notes / Locator / Reunions /

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IN SERVICE

Once again this year, the Baltimore Chapter 451 Honor Guard has had a busy schedule. The group marched in the Baltimore City St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March and received its usual enthusiastic reaction. “Throughout the entire parade, the onlookers never failed to stand up and clap as the Honor Guard marched by with military precision in their starched uniforms and spit-shined boots,” said Honor Guard member Patricia Davis. “Many people saluted the flag and yelled ‘thank you’ and ‘welcome home.’” The Honor Guard also presented the colors at the dedication of the Baltimore County Vietnam Veterans Memorial, May 26 in Towson, and marched in several Fourth of July parades.

The newly reorganized and revitalized Chapter 585 in Lebanon, Oregon, has produced a handsome flier aimed at prospective members that lists the chapter’s in-service-to-America activities. They include donating Christmas boxes for needy families, awarding a scholarship at Linn-Benton Community College, helping at a dinner for returning veterans from the war in Iraq, providing financial help to needy Vietnam veterans, and supplying an air-cooled engine to the Montagnard Land Project in North Carolina.

The annual Rochester, New York, Chapter 20 Marching Unit/Honor Guard Dinner Dance, which was held in February, was a big success, thanks to the hard work of Ray Melens, the unit commander, and chapter members Wally Gekoski, Dan Corona, Tom Gleason, Kathy Stone, Ralph Pascale, Bruce Van Apeldoorn, and his wife, Nancy. The evening’s honorees included Tom Puff, who took home the Marching Unit Service Award. Also on hand were special guests Steve McAlpin, the chapter’s first recipient of the Don and Rori Murrell Humanitarian Award, and Dan and Rita Hasenauer, the parents of PFC Jason Hasenauer, who was killed in Afghanistan last December. The Chapter 20 Honor Guard took part in his funeral detail.

Washtenaw County, Michigan, Chapter 310 President John Kinzinger presented three checks from the chapter to Linda W. Belton, the Ann Arbor VA VISN Director who has spearheaded an effort to move the Ann Arbor VA Chapel from its inadequate basement facility to a more accessible one near the facility’s nursing home. “Family members of our hospitalized veterans, as well as the veterans themselves, wishing for a place of prayer, will now be able to much more easily do that in the chapel’s new location,” Kinzinger said.

Leominster, Massachusetts, Chapter 116 has joined with the Leominster Historical Society in the Vietnam Preservation Project, a year-long effort to gather and preserve a broad range of information and artifacts. The list of items includes letters, uniforms, items of daily use, patches, photographs, awards and medals, unit records, hats, captured items, military items of all kinds, and records of personal stories. Chapter Vice President Thomas “Tucker” Hazzard, a former president and a current member of the Historical Society’s Board, is leading the effort.

Quad Cities Chapter 299 in Rock Island, Illinois, and the chapter’s AVVA members paid a visit in May to the VA Hospital in Iowa City, Iowa. The members visited with patients and presented them with fruit, cookies, hats, and pins. In March the chapter made a donation to the Christian Family Center in Rock Island, which was used to buy bus tokens for veterans being housed at the center’s mission. Chapter member Bob Brooks and his wife, Diana, made an additional donation of a fax machine to the mission.

Members and Associates of San Jacinto Chapter 343 in Houston each have access to two tickets to Houston Astros home games at Minutemaid Park. At least half of the tickets are distributed to non-profit social services agencies serving children in need and homeless veterans.

Tampa, Florida, Chapter 787 recently presented the chapter’s VVA JROTC Medal to 13 junior cadets at 13 high schools in Hillsborough County. Each of the honored cadets was chosen by the commanding officer for demonstrating leadership, high physical fitness, academic excellence, and performing community service. This was the second consecutive year that the chapter presented the medals.

Members of Elkins, West Virginia, Chapter 812 recently participated in the annual Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs Expo at Elkins High School. On hand to sell raffle tickets in support of the local charities the chapter supports were Bob Tacy, Carl New, George Strader, Willard Pingley, West Virginia State Council President Frank Pecjak, Bradley Jones, State Council Vice President Jim Lemons, Roger Ware, and Fairmont Chapter 874 member Ivan Hamilton.

Western Massachusetts Chapter One-Eleven in Springfield held its 15th annual Memorial Day Eve Ceremony at the Chicopee Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park. The ceremony, which honors those from Chicopee who lost their lives in the Vietnam War, has become a traditional part of that city’s Memorial Day ceremonies.

Members of Gateway Chapter 776 in Bettendorf, Iowa, and the Chapter Honor Guard took part in the March 25 ceremonies marking the dedication of the Katz House, a group of four row houses that will be used as homes for veterans in East Davenport. The facility is named in memory of former chapter member Bruce Katz in honor of his caring and outgoing spirit. He was a co-founder of Veterans for Veterans Housing, the all-volunteer group that has repaired and restored the row houses with the assistance of local community-service groups, businesses, and Chapter 776.

The Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Chapter 731 Color Guard had the honor of leading the annual St. Patrick’s Parade in downtown Manitowoc. The Color Guard also took part in closing ceremonies at Lincoln High School’s Vietnam Day in April.

East Rutherford, New Jersey, Chapter 800 recently presented a check for $625 to the VA’s New Jersey Health Care System’s Lyons Campus. The donated funds will be used to support veterans taking part in the Golden Age Games. “Thanks to your generous donation, our veterans will have the opportunity to participate in therapeutic activities, as well as meet other veterans from throughout the country,” the VA New Jersey Health Care System director wrote in his thank-you letter to the chapter. Chapter members also make monthly visits to the Lyons PTSD unit.

Members of Chicago/Northwest Suburban Chapter 311 were involved in many activities during the Memorial Day weekend. On May 27, the chapter and its Color Guard took part in Chicago’s Memorial Day Parade, which commemorated the holiday and the 20th anniversary of Chicago’s famed 1986 Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Parade. On Memorial Day itself, May 29, the chapter and the Color Guard helped conduct observances at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plains and Ridgewood Cemetery in Niles. Later that day, the Color Guard took part in ceremonies at the Lake Park Veterans Memorial and at the Grosse Pointe Nursing Center in Niles.

Members of Appleton, Wisconsin, Chapter 351 gave three high school presentations featuring its Vietnam Display in April and May. Chapter members put up the display at Manitowoc Lincoln High School and did presentations with members of Manitowoc Chapter 731. The chapter’s Presentation Committee did six classroom programs at Hortonville High School and three at Appleton West High School where the Display Committee also presented its collection of military uniforms and equipment.

The VVA national Disaster Relief Committee voted recently to donate the balance of the funds it had collected for Hurricane Katrina relief to the VA Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana, which has taken in hospitalized veterans displaced by the hurricane. Louisiana State Council President Richard DeLong and Region 7 Director Allen Manuel presented the check to the hospital in the amount of $12,155.  

VETS CONNECT

To show their support, members of Newark, Ohio, Chapter 55 signed one half of a POW/MIA flag and sent it to the 211th Maintenance Battalion of the Ohio National Guard (based in Newark), which served in Iraq. Members of that unit, in turn, signed the other half of the flag and sent it back to the chapter, along with an American flag, a picture of the flag, the 211th troops, and a certificate. Both flags had flown over the 211th compound in Iraq. “We are thankful for the safe return of the 211th and ask God to protect all men and women of our armed forces and pray that they return home safely to a grateful nation,” said Chapter Chaplain Bill Burkamp.

Nassau County, New York, Chapter 412 provides ongoing support by sending care packages to the 10th Mountain Division, which is stationed in Iraq. Tony Minai, who coordinates the effort, reports that the most popular items the troops ask for are beef jerky, dried fruit, lip balm, hand lotion, baby wipes, hand soap, shaving cream, Beef-a-Roni, canned spaghetti, canned pears and other canned fruit, pepperoni, dried sausage, granola bars, tuna in a pouch, cheese and cracker packs, and tuna and cracker packs.

Flemington, New Jersey, Chapter 452 is an active participant in Operation Shoebox, a volunteer organization that provides packages of personal items and food to American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chapter members pitched in at Operation Shoebox in February when nearly 1,500 boxes were packed and shipped, as well as at the next Shoebox day during Memorial Day weekend.

POW/MIA

Incarcerated Chapter 616 at the Mansfield, Ohio, Correctional Institution and Greater Cleveland Chapter 15 are helping sponsor POW/MIA night at Jacob’s Field, the home of Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians. The event will take place on Friday evening, September 15, when the Indians meet the Minnesota Twins. Part of the proceeds of ticket sales go to the National League of POW/MIA Families.

Retired U.S. Navy Commander Everett Alvarez, who was the longest-held American POW in North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, swore in the officers, directors, and the AVVA representative of Northern Virginia Chapter 227 at the April 20 monthly meeting. The new officers are Len Ignatowski, President; Len Funk, Vice President; Ed LaClare, Treasurer; Jonathan Olson, Sergeant at Arms. Margaret Stern was elected AVVA Representative.

SCHOLARSHIPS

Cincinnati Chapter 10, the 2005 VVA Chapter of the Year, has awarded four $800 scholarships to college-bound students. This year’s awardees are Kristin Day, Lauren Klayman, Sam Hall, and Dada Stamper. All four are the children of veterans. Proceeds from the chapter’s June 10 Annual Golf Scramble held at the Hillview Golf Course helped fund the scholarship program, as well as the chapter’s adopt-a-child program.

West Tennessee Chapter 875 in Memphis in May awarded its third annual high school senior scholarship to Sarah Bybee, whose uncle is a Vietnam veteran. An ROTC member at Millington High School near Memphis, Sarah Bybee has been accepted at five universities and, at press time, had not made her final decision about which one she would attend.

MEMORIALS

Southwest Montana Chapter 788 in Bozeman is working with the Montana Department of Transportation on a new display of the American, POW/MIA, and state of Montana flags that will be installed at the rest area along the Yellowstone River near Yellowstone Park’s Gardiner entrance. The chapter is raising funds for the materials (including overhead lights, a Veterans Remembrance podium, and a plaque), which will be donated to the MDT for installation. The plaque will read: “Dedicated to Honor all our Brothers and Sisters Who Have Served, are Serving, or Will Serve in the Defense of Our Nation.”

Members of Chapter 101 in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, voted at their March meeting to donate $500 to a fund that will be used to build a Wood County Veterans Memorial on the front lawn of the Wood County Courthouse in Wisconsin Rapids.

Lynchburg/Forest Chapter 196 in Virginia donated $1,700 to Life Scout Joey Ricketts’ Eagle Scout Service Project, building a monument in Lynchburg to the men and women who gave their lives in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon, September 11, 2001. The monument will be dedicated to Col. David M. Scales, who was killed that day while sitting at his desk at the Pentagon. Chapter 196 members voted to provide the funds for the project after Joey Ricketts made a presentation at a chapter meeting. The young scout and his father also became AVVA members.

On April 29, Topeka, Kansas, Chapter 604 dedicated a memorial stone in honor of Danny J. Petersen at the Veterans Memorial Amphitheater at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas. Peterson, who was born in Horton, Kansas, served as an armored personnel carrier commander with the Army’s 25th Infantry Division’s B Company, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry. He was killed during an intense fight with the NVA in Tay Ninh on January 9, 1970. For his courage under fire in that engagement, Petersen was awarded the Medal of Honor. Also participating in the ceremonies were members of Ottawa, Kansas, Chapter 912 and Kansas State Council President Michael Kuhn.

Greater Hartford Chapter 120 in Connecticut provided overnight security for the Traveling Wall on the Windsor, Connecticut, Town Green for the four nights that the memorial was displayed there in April. Many chapter members showed up to put in multiple four-hour shifts. The chapter also donated $500 to support the event.

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