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

December 2000/January 2001

Membership Notes

A VVA Staff Report

MEMORIALS

Long Beach, California, Chapter 756 dedicated the Long Beach Vietnam Veterans Memorial on November 11. The "Slick on a Stick" is located in Houghton Park and was designed by Christopher Umana, a Long Beach City College art student. It includes a UH I-D Huey helicopter donated by Al Gerbino, owner-director of the Dark Horse military aviation museum at Long Beach Airport. According to chapter president Max Stewart, the memorial "serves not only to remind us of past sacrifices, but to inspire hope in our future." If you wish to contribute to the memorial fund, contact Max at AirCop73@aol.com

To get to Houghton Park, you will drive a portion of the 104-mile stretch of the Los Angeles County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway, California SR 1 between Ventura County and Orange County. Led by president Jerry Yamamoto, Redondo Beach Chapter 53 spearheaded the legislation to rename the coastal highway.

The North Carolina Wall was unveiled at the Battleship North Carolina Memorial Park in Wilmington on Veterans Day. The Wall includes the names of the more than 1,500 Tarheels who died in Vietnam. Despite her dyslexia, it took only ten days for 65-year-old Phyllis Zawislak to hand-paint each name on the six-panel memorial, which now belongs to Greenville Chapter 272.

Former Miss America Heather French has joined the effort to save the Veteransí Memorial Forest in Ava, New York. The 798-acre Oneida County site, dedicated in 1953, is in danger of having a landfill built next to it. New York veterans included a statement by French in their brochure seeking support for the effort. "I was horrified to learn that, after 45 years of the forest being designated a memorial site, it has come under consideration as a possible neighbor to a waste site. . . . As a national veterans advocate, I am deeply concerned about what that message sends to our nation's veterans. Is this an act of disrespect for their service to our country or a reflection of how we have forgotten their sacrifices?" For more information, contact VVA Region II Director Larry Klein at Lklein@vva.org

SPEAKING OF MISS AMERICA. . .

South Jersey Chapter 228 participated in several events in conjunction with the 2001 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. The chapter color guard participated in the Miss America Gala Fund Raiser to benefit the Atlantic City Rescue Mission. It also presented the colors to open the preliminary competition on October 11. On Friday the 13th, the Chapter 228 Color Guard was the official escort for Miss America 2000 Heather French in the traditional parade along the Boardwalk.

GOLD MEDAL DEPARTMENT

Anthony Irvin, son of California VVA member Jack Irvin (ed. note: No Jack Irvin in Calif. Howard Irvin, Canyon County Chapter 355) won a Gold Medal in the 100-meter freestyle event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

EDUCATION

Frank Perez Memorial Chapter 153 in the south suburbs of Chicago recently presented its third annual education grant to Daniel Dominiak, son of Rich and Cathy Dominiak of Calumet City. Daniel Dominiak will use the grant to study graphic design at South Suburban College.

HONORS

Wayne Lee Miller, a USMC veteran and counselor at the Silver Spring, Maryland, Vet Center, won First Place in the National Music Competition in the vocal solo patriotic category and earned a chance to sing in Washington's venerable Constitution Hall. Miller lost a leg in Vietnam on Independence Day 1970.

STAND DOWN

The Philadelphia Regional Stand Down was held the second weekend of September and moved "Thundering Herd" wife Mrs. Richard Campbell to pen her concerns in a letter to Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street. The event, in its seventh year, served more than 250 veterans and provided on-site health care and counseling, including educational and job services counseling. Since we remember the best things in our lives, Judy Campbell asked, how can we expect young men and women to not remember the worst thing that ever happened in their lives--Vietnam?

Welch, West Virginia, Coalfields Chapter 37 provided services to 162 veterans and family members during the second Appalachian Stand Down in October. Health care, clothing, and hot meals were available to those in need. Medical screening was provided by the 99th Regional Support Command of the U.S. Army Reserve.

WELCOME BACK

The California Zephyr, the official publication of the California State Council, is back in production after a hiatus of several years. Sonja and Ken Holybee are responsible for the Fall 2000 issue that is printed in large type for Vietnam vets who have lost their reading glasses.

VETERANS DAY

Rochester, New York, Chapter 20 held its annual Veterans Day ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park.

Oahu, Hawaii, Chapter 858 members Curtis Kealoha, Paul Losch, Elija Monroe, Mel Falcon, Garey Lester, William "Dan" Daniels, Ric Ngiraingas, Nalu Perez, Luis Parker, and Gary Jalbert participated in the Veterans Day ceremonies at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu.

MOVING WALLS

Jeff Christiano, son of Col. Joseph Christiano who remains unaccounted for since Christmas Eve 1965, was one of the speakers when The Moving Wall was presented in Spencerport, New York. Rochester Chapter 20 provided the color guard for the opening and closing ceremonies.

Rock River, Wisconsin, Chapter 236 brought a hospitality trailer when it hosted more than 61,000 people at The Wall That Heals.

The Moving Wall was displayed at the TRW facility in Hawthorne, California, during Thanksgiving week. Redondo Beach Chapter 53 welcomed visitors during their annual Wall Watch duty, which included the Thanksgiving night watch.

OPENING BELL

On October 16, some of this country's most successful Vietnam veterans rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, including AOL founding CEO and chairman emeritus James V. Kimsey; Christos M. Cotsakos, chairman & CEO of E-Trade; and Gen. Barry McCaffrey (USA-Ret.), director of National Drug Control Policy.

NEVER AGAIN

VVA recommends that chapters across the country organize a candlelight vigil or other observance to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the cessation of military operations in the Persian Gulf War on February 28 (see "NGWRC Report"). In that way, we can recognize and pay respects to the men and women who selflessly volunteered to serve in the Gulf War.

Have you got an extra $25 burning a hole in your pocket? To continue supporting the good work of the National Gulf War Resource Center (NGWRC), send your contribution to NGWRC, P.O. Box 11131, McLean, VA 22102-7131.

In September, members of Ozark Uplift Chapter 838 in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, held a memorial service for the 17 sailors killed aboard the USS Cole, and their families. The U.S. Naval Recruiters office in Fayetteville placed a wreath during the ceremony.

DONATIONS

St. Albans, Vermont, received a $500 donation from Chapter 753 to support Project Phoenix. The money will be used to build a supervised skate park for minors. Chapter president Mike Lawton has volunteered the services of the chapter to help supervise the park when it is complete. Chapter 753 also donated $1,000 to the Friends of Veterans, an organization that provides assistance to veterans in need.

Chapter 824 in Elizabethton, Tennesee, donated $1,000 to provide winter coats for veterans living in the Mountain Home VAMC in Johnson City. The money was raised at two yard sales.

GOOD WORKS

Vietnam veteran and former dentist Ronald M. Traficana of Rome, New York, attended the Telergy Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Tournament last summer. Traficana, who pulled teeth for 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines in Danang, 1969-70, approached golf pro Craig "The Walrus" Stadtler during the tourney and asked him to autograph his cap, which was weighted down with Vietnam War pins and other insignia. Stadtler signed the hat and handed it back to Traficana who immediately took the hat and placed it on top of Stadtler's head. Traficana began to walk away. Stadler called him back and handed his hat to Traficana. The 47-year-old golfer asked Traficana for his autograph on the pin-covered hat. "It's because of people like you, that's why we're here," he said. Stadtler, one of only two PGA Tour golfers in the field old enough to have been eligible for service during Vietnam, had received a draft lottery number of 310, putting him out of contention for the Vietnam Sweepstakes.

Chapter 421, Staten Island, New York, members Mike Cocozza, Bill Liell, Tom Tucker, and Joe DiGiovanni threw a Christmas party at the Galley restaurant at Ft. Wadsworth for five young children and two adults from Sierra Leone who were in this country being fitted with prosthetics from injuries incurred during that West African nationís civil war.

SO WHOíS NEWS?

Tireless VVA and AVVA worker Mary Miller was profiled in the Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Tribune-Democrat. The feature described how Mary has spent nearly 20 years of her life working to help families suffering from Agent-Orange-related cancer. The article described Millerís receipt of the Humanitarian Award from the Chapel of Four Chaplains for her dedicated service to veterans. The article quoted AVVA President Nancy Switzer: "Mary deserves this award. She does everything for Vietnam veterans. She puts in a lot of time that can't be measured. Without her help, I wouldn't be able to do my job."

ODDS íNí ENDS

Chattanooga, Tennessee, Chapter 203 held its annual Toy Convoy in December, thereby providing a very bright holiday for several dozen families.

Liberty Bell Chapter 266 in Philadelphia sponsored a book signing for John Campbell, author of They Were Ours; held a Thanksgiving and Christmas food drive that generated 27 baskets of food for those in need; sponsored Christmas parties for needy children at the St. Francis Inn soup kitchen; and paid two visits to the Philadephia VA Hospital.

Central Wisconsin Chapter 101 in Wisconsin Rapids collected and purchased non-perishable goods and presented them, along with presents for children donated by chapter member Don Schillinger, to the Wood County Department of Social Services.The chapter also donated $100 each to the Veterans Assistance Project and the PTSD unit at the VA Hospital in Tomah.

Montgomery County, Maryland, Chapter 641 held its Turkey Patrol on Thanksgiving morning. The group gathered at 8:00 a.m. and delivered turkeys and groceries to six families. Afterwards, members prepared Thanksgiving dinner for needy residents at Carroll House. The chapter also pulled off Santa Patrol, delivering small presents and spending time with the veterans in the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center on Christmas Day.

Chapter 588 in Hartford County, Maryland, distributed a carload of food and a truckload of clothes to eight needy families during the holiday season.

Richmond, Indiana, Chapter 777 delivered Thanksgiving turkeys to local shelters and kitchens that feed the needy. The chapter also delivered blankets to a shelter for battered women. At Christmas, 55 families benefited from the chapterís Christmas basket program, begun four years ago.

Two new Massachusetts chapters carry the names of local heroes. Beverly Chapter 853 is named after Medal of Honor recipient 1st Lieutenant Stephen H. Doane, originally of Beverly. Springfield Chapter 866 carries the name of SFC Jorge Otero-Barreto, the most decorated Puerto Rican veteran.

   

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