A publication of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

October 2000/November 2000

Membership Notes

A VVA Staff Report

OF PURPLE HEARTS AND GOOD HEARTS

Nassau County, New York, Chapter 82 reprinted a June news release from the DVA titled, "VA Sets Rules for Purple Heart Recipients." The release deals with eligibility, but the final paragraph is a bit of history.

"The Purple Heart is the nation's oldest military medal. George Washington presented the first medals in 1783. Today, there are approximately 600,000 living veterans who were wounded in combat and received the medal."

One of those Purple Hearts was part of the Quilt of Tears, the Agent Orange quilt project nurtured by Jennie LeFevre and the Agent Orange Victims & Widows Support Network. Selected panels of the quilt are displayed throughout the country with the support of local VVA chapters. The Purple Heart belonged to a Vietnam veteran Agent Orange victim who had asked Jennie to make a block for him. The veteran sent all of his information to Jennie, including his Purple Heart. During a presentation in conjunction with the Moving Wall at Kingston, New York, in August someone stole the Purple Heart. VVA Chapter 60, which sponsored the event, was crushed by this turn of events. A newspaper article requesting that the person return the medal with no questions asked failed. The following day chapter vice president Fred Johnson insisted Jennie take his own Purple Heart as a replacement. The quilt is once again complete and is available for presentation in your area. For more information contact Jennie at: JLEFE36558@aol.com 

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Eva Navarro is the daughter of Al and Ernie Navarro, members of San Jacinto Chapter 343 in Houston, Texas, and she needs a liver transplant. AVVA Member and Air Force Msgt. Wanda Newman devoted over 80 hours of her time and created a U.S. flag afghan to raffle off as a fund-raiser. Wanda raised $425 from her fellow noncoms of the 147th Fighter Wing, Texas, ANG at Ellington Field. Tsgt. Damitas Blackshire was the winner of the afghan.

Miami Valley Chapter 97 in Dayton, Ohio, hosted more than 30 people at the 30th reunion of Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry, 199th Light Infantry Brigade "Redcatchers." Among those attending were Redcatcher veteran and VVA National Chaplain Fr. Phil Salois. The reunion included a memorial service at Woodland Cemetery honoring Sp4 Herbert Wheeler Klug of Dayton. Twenty other deceased members of Alpha Company also were remembered. After the ceremony, the group held a service at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park of Greater Dayton.

NEVER AGAIN

World War II veteran George Capps made a promise to his wife before she died that he would visit her every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and on special holidays to tell her how her family was doing. The Maryland Veterans Cemetery in Cheltenham, where his wife of over 49 years is buried, has a policy of not opening on holidays. George petitioned various local and federal officials and agencies, and the cemetery finally yielded and is now open on Thanksgiving and Christmas. This means more volunteers are needed for these holidays. For more information, contact the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs.

HOMELESS VETERANS

Miss America 2000 Heather Renee French joined New Jersey Adjutant Gen. Paul J. Glazer and VVA members to dedicate the New Jersey Veterans Haven in August. The facility, which has served over 270 homeless men and women veterans since 1995, is in Winslow, New Jersey. Robert Durante, superintendent of the project, said the program would not have been successful without the generosity of many people and organizations, including VVA.

Miss America also was present when Michael Lathan, a homeless veteran in Houston, was presented with a mobile home as part of the Forgotten Heroes program of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and the Miss America Foundation. Also on hand were Lynda Greene and other members of Houston Chapter 343.

HONORS

Rich Caputo, vice president and the editor of <I>Charlie-Mike, the newsletter of Chapter 590, Glenside, Pennsylvania, was honored by the chapter at its September meeting for winning VVA’s Chapter Newsletter of the Year Award at the Leadership Conference in Buffalo in August.

National Board Member Robert W. Maras of New Jersey was presented with The Promise of Freedom Patriots Award by the New Jersey VA Health Care System Management Assistance Council. The award is given in recognition of outstanding achievement by a veteran on behalf of New Jersey veterans.

National Chaplain Father Philip Salois was named the new VISN 1 Chaplain and will represent all VISN 1 chaplains on the National Leadership Council of the VA National Chaplain Center.

ARTS OF WAR, LOCAL DIVISION

West Shore Chapter 249 member Brad Hull worked with Cleveland State University to present "Under Fire," an exhibit of Vietnam War art, at the university in October. The showing coincided with the 22nd Infantry Regiment Society reunion hosted by Hull.

From Santa Rosa, California, Chapter 223 comes the report that San Francisco City Hall was the venue for an artistic presentation of photographic images taken during the Vietnam conflict "with tributes to those fallen warriors and loved ones."

 

IN SERVICE TO AMERICA

In his "President's Letter," Robert Gambol of Valley Forge Chapter 349 in Norristown, Pennsylvania, defined VVA’s national motto when he said: "Our worth as Vietnam veterans and citizens may be measured by our willingness to help whenever the next call comes." Demonstrating that commitment are the reports of activities and service we receive in newsletters.

Just a few examples are: Chapter 223 helping out the widow of a World War II veteran clean her yard. Jerry Shimmel, Jack Travis, George Engle, Dave Farmer, and Joe Oliver joined Ray Reece, Duane DeWitt, and Mike Rilla renovating the yard of Virginia Mooney. Ron Gall, a member of Eduardo Marquez, Jr., Chapter 431 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, is collecting General Mills coupons to raise money for Central Elementary School. Chapter 601 in Bennington, Vermont, took part in the K-Mart Kids Race Against Drugs event. Wanda Sweet and Norm Robinson were singled out for special recognition of their volunteerism, and state president John Miner was commended for promoting a $1,000 donation to the chapter from K-Mart instead of the usual $500. Capitol Chapter 542 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, held an Open House in its boardroom on Veteran’s Day.

Las Vegas, Nevada, Chapter 17 dedicated its Women Veteran’s Memorial Garden at the end of summer. The garden is located in the back of the chapter headquarters and is described as a work in progress. Chapter member Joe Collins donated a Green Cloud Texas Sage as the first plant for the garden.

HEALTH DEPARTMENT

The Delaware State Council is moving full speed ahead with its program to increase awareness of hepatitis C. George Webb, Tom Daws, and Kay, Tara, and Terry Baker joined with others to testify before a congressional subcommittee on hepatitis C testing issues.

Chapter 172 in Cumberland, Maryland, presented guest speaker Ralph Burnett in October. Burnett is a U.S. Army Vietnam-era veteran who served as a 1st Lieutenant with the 4/7 Armored Cavalry Regiment in Korea. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer several years ago and believes it is related to his exposure to Agent Orange in Korea.

 

POW/MIA REMEMBRANCE DAY

Many VVA chapters took part in POW/MIA Remembrance activities around the country, including Texarkana Area Chapter 278 in Texarkana, Texas, Chapter 82 in Hicksville, New York, Chapter 343 in Houston, Somerset, Pennsylvania, Chapter 587, and Riverside, California, Chapter 47.

KEEP ON MARCHING

The Baltimore Chapter 451 Honor Guard marched in three parades on Independence Day. They started the day at the Heritage Fair Parade, then went to the Towson Parade, and finished the day in the Catonsville Parade.

Chapter 299 in Rock Island, Illinois, provided the honor guard for the MIA Memorial Service for Lieutenant Dwight Ekstam and Corporal Edward Holland, who were listed as KIA and MIA in 1944 and 1943 respectively. The ceremony was held at the Rock Island National Cemetery.

First Pennsylvania Mobile Historical Unit Chapter 590 in Glenside, Pennsylvania provided the honor guard for the Change of Command Ceremonies at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, Willow Grove. Chapter President Tom Frieze bid farewell to Capt. Thomas F. Nagelin, Jr., who was reassigned to the Naval Reserve Recruiting Command in New Orleans.

ODDS ‘N’ ENDS

VVA Massachusetts State Council Membership Chair Marshall R. Mudge, Jr., welcomed two new chapters to his state: Chapter 853 in Beverly and the Jorge Otero-Barreto Chapter 866 in Springfield. Chapter 853 came into existence officially on October 4. The chapter’s officers will be sworn in at a special event that includes a dinner dance November 17. Chapter 866 came on line October 11. Meetings will be held on the second Thursday of the month at the Puerto Rican Veterans Association Building in Springfield.

The many recent activities of Heart of Texas Chapter 801in Brownwood include: renovating an old Army communications building in the Camp Bowie area that will become the chapter’s headquarters; building a Veterans Memorial to honor WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, and Desert Storm veterans (including women); helping out with the funding of the Brown County War Memorial; participating in the city of Brownwood’s Veterans Day Parade; and the participation of its All Veterans Honor Guard at several funerals.

Members of the Lone Star Chapter 854 in Hallettsville, Texas, held a membership drive and a public awarness campaign for the Moving Wall display at the Kolache Fest. Chapter members will host Moving Wall ceremonies in Hallettsville October 25-28, 2001.

Homeless chair Butch Mullen and other members of Chapter 777 in Richmond, Indiana, delivered a load of blankets and other supplies to a local homeless shelter.

Chapter 203, Chattanooga, Tennessee, had a busy, fruitful summer. The chapter awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Ashley Bass. Her father served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Chapter members were instrumental in establishing a new chapter in Oliver Springs and participated in the July Fourth parade in Dunlap, taking first place in the best-float competition. The citizens of Dunlap gave chapter members a rousing welcome home at the parade.

Daniel P. Waters of Chapter 704 of Cayuga County, New York, helped raise a new American flag at the dedication of the flagpole in Auburn on Flag Day.

Florida State Council President Dave McMichael paid a surprise visit to Phoenix Chapter 729 in the Polk Correctional Institution in Polk City. McMichael presented the three national awards won by the chapter at Leadership 2000 in Buffalo. Outside Sponsor Timothy Kaufmann was presented with the VVA Member of the Year Award, chapter president Terry Faddis was recognized as Incarcerated Member of the Year, and Lennox Mito was honored as Associate of the Year.

Southwest Montana Chapter 788 in Bozeman hosted the Reunion 2000 Montana State Picnic. Nearly 50 attended the event at Grotto Falls. Gary and Sandy Welsand, Bob and Mary Atkins, and Ron Eldridge joined Don and Marilyn Murdock the night before to do the set up.

Rock County Chapter 236 in Janesville, Wisconsin, hosted The Wall That Heals in September. A living Three Fighting Men statue was part of the presentation.

Up the road in Wisconsin Rapids, Chapter 101 members Jim and Rose Donnerbauer, Bob Guyant, and Gary Schoenborn joined with Danny Henke, Bill Falkner, Vern Nelson and Roger Kelnhofer to clean up their stretch of road in the Adopt-A-Highway program.

The Nebraska State Council hosted a Classic Rock & Country Concert to benefit the projects of the state council, including public health awareness programs, providing color and honor guard support, and scholarships for Vietnam veteran family members.

Greater New Orleans Chapter 384 raffled a $500 travel certificate. The winner was drawn on Veterans Day.

Chapter 290 in St. Cloud, Minnesota, hosted a booth at the Benton County Fair and grossed over $1,100 at the event.

Merced, California, Chapter 691 honors its deceased members with streamers on the chapter flag. Three streamers currently recognize and memorialize Jesse Martinez, Chip Kirkeby, and Clint Tyson.

Northwestern Vermont Chapter 753 in St. Albans hosted a chapter picnic that was excellent according to the chapter newsletter. So excellent, in fact, that another is planned for the fall.

Petaluma, California, Chapter 563 held its annual chapter picnic at the Cheese Factory in Petaluma. Also attending were members of Chapter 223 in Santa Rosa, Chapter 547 in Marin, and Chapter 702 in Yountville.

Chester County Chapter 436 in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, will provide its chapter newsletter on audiotape, giving you a chance to listen to the newsletter on your way to work.

The Downington Borough Council in Pennsylvania has designated the Kerr Park Triangle as an area for veteran and patriotic memorials only. Chapter 436 in Phoenixville helped push this measure through.

Chapter 120 in Hartford, Connecticut, reminds everyone that August 16 was designated National Airborne Day, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the first U.S. Army parachute jump.

   

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