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September/October Issue

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / Letters / President's Message / VVAF Report / Government Relations / Ask The Parliamentarian / Veterans Benefits Update / Membership Affairs Committee Report / Legislators View / ETABO Committee Report / PTSD Substance Abuse Comittee Report / TAPS / Region 7 Report / AVVA Report / SHAD/Project 112 Task Force Report / Veterans Against Drugs Task Force Report / VetsConnect Report / Homeless Veterans Task Force Report / Women Veterans Committee Report / Arts of War / Book Review / Membership Notes / Chapter of The Year / Locator / Reunions

PAST ISSues
2010: Jan/Feb
2009: Jan/Feb | mar/apr
| may/june | july/Aug | sept/oct | Nov/DeC
2008: Jan/Feb | mar/apr | may/june | july/Aug | sept/oct | Nov/DeC
2007: Jan/Feb | MAR/APR | MAY/JUNE | july/aug | SEPT/OCT | Nov/DeC
2006: July/Aug | SEPT/OCT | nov/dec

IN SERVICE

Members of the Newark, Ohio, Double Nickel Chapter 55 make up nearly half of the Veterans Alliance of Licking County. That group of veterans honors fellow former service members by providing dignified military grave-side services. The group consists of an honor guard, firing squad, and bugler, along with presenters who fold and present the American flag that covers the casket to the next of kin. The group’s motto is “Honoring Those Who Served.” It honored 158 veterans in 2005 and 75 in the first six months of this year.

VVA was well represented at the Bristol, Rhode Island, July 4 parade, which featured an appearance by 97-year-old retired Navy Lt. John Finn, the nation’s oldest surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor. On hand for the festivities were John Weiss, President of the Rhode Island State Council, Ray Benkosy, the State Council’s Legislation Officer, and Region 1 Director Al Cummings.

New City, New York, Chapter 333 held three memorial services during the Memorial Day weekend, on May 28, 29, and 30. The chapter presented its Countywide Memorial Day weekend services at the Loescher Veterans Cemetery and at the Onderdonk Cemetery. The chapter firing squad took part in a service at Mount Repose, and presented Watchfire ceremonies honoring 46 Rockland County men who died in Vietnam. At midnight on May 29, Watchfires were lit at four different locations. The fires burned for 24 hours in memory of those who perished in our nation’s wars. It was the chapter’s 19th year of lighting Watchfires.

Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Chapter 862 recently was awarded a grant by Pennsylvania State Sen. Gerald LaValle and State Rep. Mike Veon, the Democratic Whip of the state House of Representatives, for the chapter’s honor guard. On hand to accept the check were Chapter President Skip Haswell, Treasurer William Muns, and Jeff White, Pennsylvania State Council President.

Lake County, California, Chapter 95 has had a very busy first year. Chapter members have helped house four veterans in danger of becoming homeless, have run concession booths at the Lake County Fair and at Wild West Days in Upper Lake, have assumed responsibility for the Avenue of the Flags in a local cemetery, have welcomed home local veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, and have marched in the 2006 Memorial Day Parade in Lakeport. Plans for the immediate future include a garage sale, a poker run to establish a scholarship fund, and hosting the Moving Wall in 2007.

River Rock Chapter 236 in Janesville, Wisconsin, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2006, had an extremely busy spring. Among other things, chapter members led the Beloit St. Patrick’s Day Parade, gave out ten scholarships to students from nine area high schools, presented the colors and performed a POW/MIA ceremony at the 2006 Southern Wisconsin AirFest, and was instrumental in building a walkway leading to the Veterans Memorial in Janesville. “Our members put in endless days and back-breaking work to complete the walkway by Memorial Day,” said chapter member Bob Engstrom.

Members of Kentuckiana Chapter 454 in Louisville, Kentucky, recently visited the Bashford East Nursing Home in Louisville where Dona Schicker helped run a bingo game for the residents. After bingo, members Margaret and Gary Holmes, Larry Westerfield, and Chapter President Bob Keller visited the veterans living in the home. The chapter runs monthly visits to the Louisville VA Medical Center for movie and popcorn nights with patients in the lock-down ward.

The chapter also had its usual busy Memorial Day Weekend this year. It hosted the 14th annual Memorial Day services at the Final LZ Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Highland Memory Gardens on Sunday, May 28. The chapter Color Guard took part in Memorial Day Services that same day at Veterans Park in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. The following day, May 29, the chapter hosted its annual Memorial Day service at the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort and took part in the services at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.

Texarkana, Texas, Chapter 278 hosted a five-hour Veterans Information
Fair on May 20. The long list of participants and services included: VA health screening; patient advocacy; Shreveport, Louisiana, and Texarkana VA Medical Center Clinics; veterans service officers explaining benefits and programs and helping to file claims; the Texas Workforce Commission; the Texas Veterans Land Board; the Shreveport Vet Center; the Social Security Administration; the American Red Cross; Serenity Hospice; and the Alzheimer’s Association. The event was free to veterans, their families, and active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard personnel.

Members of Sumner County, Tennessee, Chapter 240 and Nashville Chapter 953 work on a daily basis operating the Veterans Food Drive, which has helped feed many needy veterans. The Food Drive is aided immeasurably by Tobey Smith and Associated Wholesale Grocers.

Members of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Chapter 310 paid visits to three area high schools, Belleville, Pioneer, and Chelsea, in May to answer questions from students about the Vietnam War. Chapter President Pete Belaire, John Kinzinger, Ken Parks, Dave Nye, Bill Feight, and Dave Hizer took part in the event at Belleville High School.

Rochester, New York, Chapter 20 held a Veterans Health Outreach event July 22 at the Town of Greece’s town mall. The chapter distributed VVA membership information and offered chapter and VA presentations on health-care issues. Among those taking part were Pat Pudetti, Pete Galle, and Chapter President Ken Moore. The chapter’s board in July approved a donation of $5,000 to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park, N.Y., making the chapter the major sponsor of the memorial’s upcoming 10th anniversary commemoration.

Members of Chapter 101, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, took part in Memorial Day commemorations in three cities: Nekoosa, Port Edwards, and Wisconsin Rapids. In attendance were Roger Kelnhofer, Tom Sachs, Ron Clark, Bill Falkner, Bob Holtz, Don Schillinger, Tom Stern, and Gary Schoenborn. Chapter members Dan Henke, Vern Nelson, Tom Sachs, Bob and Kathy Guyant, Roger Sampson, and Jim Stack pitched in at the chapter’s first Adopt-a-Highway cleanup earlier in May.

Tampa Bay, Florida, Chapter 787 provided speakers for fourteen high schools in the Hillsborough County School District during this past school year. Chapter members put in more than 500 hours in the classrooms, teaching their History of Vietnam War course. At the end of the school year, the chapter presented its JROTC Medal to the top Junior Cadets at thirteen of the high schools in the district.

VETS CONNECT

Members of Porter County, Indiana, Chapter 905, along with AVVA 905 Representative Marilyn Kaiser, spent a recent Sunday morning welcoming home C Company of the 113th Engineers, a local Indiana Army National Guard unit that had just returned from Iraq. Chapter members talked to the new veterans about the benefits they are now entitled to. “Our chapter was there to help these young men and women realize they are now a special class called ‘veterans,’” Marilyn Kaiser said.

In what has become an annual tradition, South Bay Chapter 53 in Redondo Beach, California, treated young servicemen and women who marched in the 47th Torrance Armed Forces Day Parade and Celebration on May 20 to a barbeque dinner. Chapter members Susan Mattera and Steve Crecy, along with a ton of volunteers, fed approximately 1,500 troops and their families.

Southern Pride Chapter 485 in Loretto, Tennessee, which received its VVA charter in April, just completed its first big project, a benefit to raise money to send items to the soldiers of the 1/115th Field Artillery Battalion of the Tennessee Army National Guard, which is serving in Iraq. “This project was very successful, and we sent our first care packages immediately,” said Chapter Treasurer Floyd H. “Bo” Corbin. In a thank-you note from Iraq, Capt. Theodore D. Webb recognized “all the Vietnam vets” who “answered a call that your country put out. As National Guard soldiers, we did not expect to become Army active-duty combat soldiers. However, we were asked to serve and we, like you, are serving proudly.”

For the first time in ten years, the Color Guard and members of Chicago/Northwest Suburban Chapter 311 participated in the Memorial Day Weekend program in downtown Chicago. The chapter’s Marching Unit joined more than a thousand other marchers in the annual Chicago Memorial Day Parade on May 27, which marked the 20th anniversary of the 1986 Chicago Welcome Home Parade for Vietnam veterans, an event that provided the spark for the formation of the chapter. That weekend the chapter took part in ceremonies at the Lake Park Veterans Memorial, at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, and at Ridgewood Cemetery in Niles, Illinois. Chapter members also paid a visit to the Grosse Point Care Facility in Niles to honor the veterans living there.

POW/MIA

The Eddie Uhlmansiek Chapter 10 in Reading, Ohio, hosted the delegation of Ukrainian veterans of the Vietnam War who attended the National Leadership Conference. While at the Leadership Conference, Chapter President John Erbey and Veterans Affairs Chair Ed Brown spent time welcoming the Ukrainian veterans. In Cincinnati, the chapter rolled out the red carpet. The delegation met with chapter members, members of the board of the Buckeye Foundation—the sponsor of the Ukrainian delegation’s visit to the United States—and with U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) at his district office where they discussed POW/MIA issues. After a pizza lunch at the chapter home, chapter members escorted their visitors to the Cincinnati Vietnam Veterans Memorial and to a reception organized by the Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Program. Later that evening, Chapter 10 held a dinner in their honor.

Ron Sidbeck, a member of Santa Rosa, California, Chapter 223, was among those who welcomed home the remains of U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Alvin Earl Crane, Jr., on May 11. Lt. Crane was shot down over North Korea in September 1951. His remains, along with those of four other servicemen, had been turned over by North Korea in 1990. The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii only made a positive identification of Lt. Crane last year using DNA samples from family members. Lt. Crane was interred at Santa Rosa Memorial Park with full military honors. “The Air Force did an outstanding job with the burial and the missing man flyover,” Sidbeck said. “The family now has a place to go and honor him.”

MEMORIALS

After many years of planning and fund raising, members of Chapter 154 in Macomb County, Michigan, proudly hosted the July 4 dedication ceremonies of the Macomb County Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Freedom Hill Country Park in Sterling Heights. The granite memorial honors the 149 local veterans who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. “I’m glad it’s done and we accomplished our goal,” said Patrick Daniels, the president of the chapter, which was honored as VVA’s 2006 Chapter of the Year at the National Leadership Conference. “We were hoping to provide a place for the families to go for a moment of reflection. Hopefully, they will get some closure from what we’ve done here.” Jack Devine, VVA’s national Vice President, and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) were among those attending the dedication ceremonies.

Don Reed of Monroe County, Michigan, Chapter 142 is looking for more information about the helicopter that is displayed at the chapter’s Memorial Park and Museum. It is a Bell UH1 Huey that served with the 134th Assault Helicopter Company from November 1967 to December 1969. It saw action at Hamburger Hill and during Tet ’68. The Huey returned to Vietnam in October 1970 and was assigned to the 57th AHC and then the 129th AHC. It returned to the States, to Fort Eustis, in 1971, and came to the park in 1991. Please contact
Don Reed if you have any stories about the ship you’d like to share. E-mail
trkdon@hotmail or call 734-847-1767.

The Greenville, South Carolina, Foothills Chapter 523 color guard took part in an April 29 ceremony at the Victor Memorial Veterans Park that honored American and South Vietnamese veterans with the raising of the Freedom Flag. A large number of veterans of the South Vietnamese Army attended the event.

Chapter 483 in Yauco, Puerto Rico, dedicated the Yauco Viet Nam Memorial on February 20. The memorial honors six local men who died in the Vietnam War, as well as those who have perished in all of America’s wars. The memorial was the dream of Wallace Reyes Pagan, the former Puerto Rico Council President, who died in 2002. “Wallace was a man who dedicated all of his time to helping the veterans’ community of Puerto Rico,” Chapter 483 President Jose R. Valentin said. “Even though he did not see his dream completed, the monument is there to remind us of our fallen veterans and of him.”

Harford County, Maryland, Chapter 588 was the driving force behind the designation of Maryland Route 24 in Harford County between the U.S. Route 1 Bypass and U.S. Route 40 as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway. The chapter has put up impressive signs at both ends of the highway that include images of the American and Maryland flags, as well as the VVA logo.

Among the 51 people who took part in Baltimore Chapter 451’s annual trip to Washington, D.C., on June 10 was Gary Reiff, a hospice patient at the Loch Raven VA Medical Center, who made his first visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The group also stopped at Arlington National Cemetery and took in the changing of the guard and the Kennedy grave site. On May 26, the chapter Honor Guard participated in the rededication of the Baltimore County Vietnam Veterans Memorial where chapter member John Bartkowiak served as the master of ceremonies and chaplain Kenny Cullings led the assembled in prayer.

Members of Greater Hartford, Connecticut, Chapter 120 provided 150 hours of overnight security for the Traveling Wall when it was displayed on the Windsor, Conn., Town Green for four nights in April. Many members put in multiple four-hour shifts. The chapter also donated $500 in support of the event. Chapter member Bill Chiodo coordinated the effort with the Town of Windsor.

Members of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Chapter 318 and El Paso, Texas, Chapter 574 took part in the historic Memorial Day ceremonies on May 29 at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park at Angel Fire, N.M. Those ceremonies were the first at the memorial since it became a New Mexico State Park in November 2005. The striking Angel Fire memorial, which in 1971 became the nation’s first national Vietnam Veterans Memorial, has the distinction of being the only state park in the country dedicated solely as a memorial to Vietnam veterans.

SCHOLARSHIPS

Northern Virginia Chapter 227 presented a $1,000 donation to the Arlington County Public Schools in June. That marked 13 years of support from the chapter for the Hilt Scholarship, which has helped 376 foreign-born students assimilate into American culture and citizenship. The 2005 donation went to 26 students from 13 countries. The funds are distributed based on teachers’ recommendations and financial criteria. One past recipient is now an Arlington County Public School teacher; another is a Reserve Army officer who has completed tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. The chapter also presented its 10th Vince Kaspar Awards for Excellence in the Arts to high school students for works of art and poetry.

Chapter 325 in Peacedale, Rhode Island, in June awarded six scholarships, totaling $4,500, to six local high schools. The chapter has awarded a total of $35,000 in scholarships since its program began. Work on the chapter’s 2007 Scholarship Program already has begun.

The six $600 scholarships awarded by Westchester County, New York, Chapter 49 this spring went to Andrea T. Morino of Tuckahoe High School (The Pete Lambert Scholarship); Sarah K. Walsh of Dobbs Ferry H.S. (The Peter T. McCauley Scholarship); John Rainone of Iona Preparatory School (The Hamilton Fish Scholarship); Thomas Forshey of Archbishop Stepinac H.S. (The William Sudderth Scholarship); Christopher Kelly of Lakeland H.S. (The Anthony Shine Scholarship); and Lauren Mozian of John Jay H.S. (The Jonathan Shine Scholarship).

Rock River Chapter 236 in Janesville, Wisconsin, awarded ten $300 scholarships this spring to deserving high school seniors and college students, each of whom has a parent or grandparent who served in the Vietnam War. The winners: Michelle Parsons of Milton High School; Kristin Grimes and Steven M. Feeney of Parker High School; Cameron Redarchek, Tyler Powell, and Erika Greg of Craig High School; Scott Coburn of Beloit Memorial High School, Emily Stehura and Daniel J. Feeney of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and Philip Johnson of Blackhawk Technical College.

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