October 2000/November 2000
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.
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.
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,
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.
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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.