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MAY/JUNE 2007

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / President's Message / 2007 VVA Candidates / Election Committee Report / Letters / Ask The Parliamentarian / SHAD/Project 112 Task Force Report / Credentials Committee Report / Veterans Health Care Committee Report / Government Affairs Committee Report / AVVA Report / AVVA Scholarship / AVVA Election / Chapel of the 4 Chaplains / Homeless Veterans Task Force Report / Veterans Incarcerated Committee Report / Rules Committee Report / Veterans Benefits Committee Report / Benefits Update / Consitution Committee Report / Women Veterans Committee Report / Books In Review / Membership Notes / Reunions / Taps / Locator /

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IN SERVICE

Members of Dickinson, Texas, Chapter 685 were special guests of National Hot Rod Association POWERade Series driver Melanie Troxel at the Houston Raceway Park on March 31. Troxel, who has the VVA logo emblazoned on her dragster, and marketing man Bobby Bennett invited the chapter members to Troxel’s racing pit before the races began. “Bobby knows almost everyone involved in NHRA racing,” said chapter member Bill Meeks, who also chairs VVA’s National Membership Committee, “and we met Melanie Troxel, Mike Ashley, Morgan Lucas, and Tony Schumacher during our visit.” The VVA guests were treated to food and drink. Suzie Meeks distributed AVVA and VVA pins with the POW/MIA emblem in the shape of Texas, Jim and Marilyn Rose gave out a set of VVA Chapter 685 prints to Melanie, and POW/MIA shirts were given to the drivers and to Troxel’s pit crew. “We had a great time, met new friends, and were very proud to represent VVA and AVVA at this event,” Meeks said.

The Baltimore, Maryland, Chapter 451 Honor Guard participated in the African American Patriots Ceremony at the city of Baltimore’s War Memorial Plaza on February 24. This yearly event is held in honor of all African-American veterans. Also in attendance were many other honor guards and dignitaries, including the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of Central Maryland, most of whom are members of Chapter 451. The Chapter Honor Guard consisted of Lee Chance, Ray Kesterson, John T. Pearson, Nat Richardson, Ken Cullings, Bill Ames, Ed Brown, Steve Maddox, Ron McClure, and Wynonia Brown.

Jeanette Chervony, Eddie Chervony, Karen Crisp, and Tony Cordero of Sons and Daughters in Touch gave a presentation at the February meeting of Redondo Beach, California, Chapter 53. “They spoke about the history of their organization and about the assistance they provide to children and spouses of military personnel who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Jerry Yamamoto, a chapter member who also serves on VVA’s National Board of Directors.

Members of Incarcerated Chapter 682 at the Powhatan Correctional Facility in Powhatan County, Virginia, are taking part in a program with local high school students under the direction of Gray Taylor, a special education teacher at Thomas Dale High School who serves as the chapter’s external sponsor, and Rev. Bob Floyd, a retired army chaplain. Chapter members meet at the institution with small groups of ninth and tenth graders “who are making poor choices, and they get to see what happens to men who made some of the same poor choices,” Taylor told the Chesterfield Observer. “They are told by these incarcerated men, ‘I see myself in you when I was eighteen. I didn’t stop on the path I was on, and here I sit.’ It’s a very powerful message for these kids to hear. We can be very proud of these men,” Taylor said. “They served our country and are now serving others while serving time.”

Mat-Su, Alaska, Chapter 903 has a web page that provides information about the chapter’s Veterans Aviation Outreach program, which brings much-needed services to veterans who live in remote and rural parts of the state. Check it out at www.vaoonline.org

El Paso, Texas, Chapter 574 held a Veterans Day Candlelight Vigil last November at Ascarate Lake. The chapter sold luminarias, which families lit to honor veterans from all of America’s wars, including recent veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The event also included a memorial service and a remembrance of American POW/MIAs.

Louisville, Kentucky, Chapter 454 continued its ongoing visitation program to the Louisville VA Medical Center in January when chapter members put on a movie and popcorn night for patients in two wards. Chapter members John and Judy Mitchell, Jack Spagnola, Bob Keller, and Bill Pfeister provided the popcorn and soft drinks to the patients.

Genesee County, Michigan, Chapter 175 held its annual food basket distribution event for needy veterans’ families on December 17. Chapter members and friends began working at 7a.m., loading $2,000 worth of food into a trailer and taking it to chapter headquarters. They put together 52 baskets and delivered them to the families that afternoon, well in time for Christmas.

Members of Redondo Beach, California, Chapter 53 donated a dozen unwrapped children’s toys to the Beach Cities Toy Drive last December, as well as a dozen additional toys and $75 in cash to the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Holiday Drive. The toys and funds were gathered at the chapter’s annual holiday party on December 13.

The float put together by Texarkana, Texas, Chapter 278 took home the second place prize in the veterans’ organization category at the local Veterans Day Parade in November. After the parade, chapter members worked at a local McDonald’s, which provided all veterans with a free meal on Veterans Day.

Liberty Bell Chapter 266 in Philadelphia hosted its annual Bingo and Christmas Party on December 21 at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. Twenty-eight patients and two staff members were treated to pizza, snacks (including locally baked Philadelphia soft pretzels), soft drinks, and TastyKake pies donated by the Tasty Baking Company. After bingo, the chapter gave each patient a Christmas card containing a ten-dollar Sears gift certificate. Chapter members Ron Powell, Mike Lentz, Len Johnson, James Chappelle, Bryan Hunter, Fred Russo, Al Mikutis, Raymon Clay El, Mark Lumpkin, Chuck Moffett, and Jerry McManus took part in the event.

William F. Homer, Jr., the staff adviser for Incarcerated Chapter 616 at the Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio, traveled to Cincinnati on March 30 to deliver two hundred pounds of food to the Joseph House, a homeless veterans shelter. He also visited Carolyn Maupin, the mother of Iraq War POW Matt Maupin, and presented her with a portrait of her son painted by one of the inmates at the institution.

Brian Mulcrone, the president of Chicago/Northwest Suburban Chapter 311, appeared as a guest on WGN Radio’s “Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg” on March 28. The show dealt with the legacy of the Vietnam War and also included Doug Bey, a former 1st Infantry Division psychiatrist, and Tom Bissell, the son of a Vietnam veteran and author of the memoir The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam.

The Rochester, New York, Chapter 20 Honor Guard took part in the opening ceremonies February 17 of the exhibition of 46 photographs by Craig J. Barber at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. The exhibit, called “Ghosts in the Landscape: Vietnam Revisited,” consists of 46 prints by Barber, a photographer and Marine Corps Vietnam veteran. Barber took the photos during his tour of duty and during three return trips beginning in 1995, when he revisited and photographed many of his old haunts with a pinhole camera.

The Macomb Branch of Bluewater Chapter 284 in New Haven, Michigan, teamed up with a Girl Scout troop from Detroit’s East Side in March and sold more than 575 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to the inmates at the Macomb Correctional Facility. The funds from the cookie sale went to the Girl Scouts’ program activities and special events and projects.

Newark, Ohio, Double Nickel Chapter 55 honored the work of the Chapel of Four Chaplains one Sunday in February with ceremonies held at the Methodist Church in Tobosco, Ohio, during a worship service. The four chaplains who perished aboard a torpedoed ship during World War II after giving their life vests to others “were live examples that God was in the midst of these men on that sinking troop ship and showed the real concept of love by making the ultimate sacrifice for their fellow man,” said chapter Chaplain Bill Burkamp.

Col. Harold F. Lyon Memorial Chapter 822 at the North Central Correctional Institution in Marion, Ohio, hosted and honored six former fighter pilots of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the World War II all-African-American Army Air Corps 322nd Fighter Group, at the chapter’s February meeting. Maj. Herndon “Don” Cummings, an original Tuskegee Airman, addressed the gathering.

Members Paul “Frenchy” Evans, Brent Cobb, and Jerry Goodwin of Quad Cities Chapter 299 in Rock Island, Illinois, made the chapter’s quarterly visit to the VA Medical Center in Iowa City, Iowa, on February 12. The chapter allocates funds for these regular hospital visits, during which the chapter members distribute cookies, fresh fruit, games, bookmarks, hats, veteran pins, and jewelry to women patients.

VETS CONNECT
Many members of Lake County, California, Chapter 951, under the direction of Ginny Craven, have raised funds, solicited goods, packed and shipped comfort packages, and have written letters to American service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. The program is called Operation Tango Mike, the radio code for “Thanks Much.” To date, Operation Tango Mike has sent more than 150 comfort packages to the troops.

Members of Washington, D.C., area Chapters 227 in Northern Virginia and 641 in Silver Spring, Maryland, served as hosts for an event called Wounded Warriors Night on the Town, which included dinner at the Capital Hilton Hotel. The hotel provided the dinner gratis for the wounded veterans, and a Chapter 227 member, who asked to remain anonymous, donated $4,600 to pay for the bus rental to transport the wounded.

SCHOLARSHIPS
Western New York Chapter 77 in Tonawanda held its big spaghetti dinner fund-raiser on January 25. Proceeds from the event, which includes an auction and raffle, go to the chapter’s Peter P. Tycz III Memorial Scholarship Fund. Among the items raffled: a football autographed by members of the Buffalo Bills, a fishing trip, and a flag quilt. To date, the chapter has raised more than $2,600 for the scholarships.

MEMORIALS
Jim Schueckler, a life member of LeRoy, New York, Chapter 193, has volunteered his services as a guide at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington for more than twelve years. During the antiwar demonstration in Washington on March 17, Schueckler spent a good part of the day at The Wall, doing his usual volunteer work. “Although a metal detector was set up at the entrance to The Wall on that day, it was business as usual for Jim,” said Ted Wilkinson, the New York State Council Western District Director. “He helped veterans, friends, and family members by answering questions, guiding people to the names on the Memorial, and helping them take rubbings of loved ones’ names.”

Bennington, Vermont, Chapter 601 is spearheading an effort to build a monument to honor all veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the Persian Gulf War, and in today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The location will be the Vermont Veterans Home. The chapter presented a design proposal to the home’s Board of Trustees in December and received permission to go ahead with the project. Fund-raising has begun for the monument, which will be located next to the current Vermont Medal of Honor Monument.

Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Chapter 364 played a leading roll in the creation of a five-by-nine-foot Vietnam War collage that was dedicated in March at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown. The collage is made up of a series of Vietnam War photographs. Choosing the photos was a “group effort,” said chapter President Tom Haberkorn. The collage “shows a snapshot of service in Vietnam,” he said. “We realize that the Vietnam War affected a lot of people. This collage shows just a few to represent all those affected.” The collage also includes a photo containing the names of the seventy men from Cambria County on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, as well as a Chapter 364 patch. Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), a Vietnam veteran, was the keynote speaker at the dedication.

The 1LT Nainoa K. Hoe Battle Command Training Center was dedicated in February at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. The center, a state-of-the-art simulation combat training facility, was named in honor of LT Hoe, who was killed in Iraq in 2005. He is the son of Allen K. Hoe, a member of Honolulu, Hawaii, Chapter 858, who delivered the Keynote Speech at VVA’s 2005 National Convention.

Tyler, Texas, Chapter 932 was the driving force behind a new Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedicated on Veterans Day at T.B. Butler Fountain Plaza in downtown Tyler. The chapter raised the funds for the new memorial, which replaced one that had been irreparably damaged. The memorial honors 44 Smith County, Texas, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. Chapter member and Chaplain Sam Hopkins gave the invocation at the dedication ceremonies. Chapter President Robbie Robertson led the Pledge of Allegiance and Texas State Rep. Leo Berman, a chapter member, was the Keynote Speaker.n

BillBoards
Members of Mt. Clemens, Michigan, Chapter 154, led by Chapter President Pat Daniels, worked with CBS Media to come up with striking billboards encouraging new and old veterans to find out if they are eligible for VA benefits. The company offered the billboards at a huge discount and the results were immediate. “The billboard has generated numerous calls to our Vet Center,” Daniels said. “We have had contact with many veterans who were unaware of the benefits available, and we have received calls and generated claims for veterans form World War II through today. The billboard is making a difference in the lives of our veterans, their spouses, and their children.”

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