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

February 2001/March 2001

Membership Notes

A VVA Staff Report

Keeping The Memory

At least 38 times during the last year, the honor guard for Chapter 470 in Anoka, Minnesota, has provided Veterans Honors at local cemeteries on Saturdays. According to chapter president Mike Clark, two-and-a-half years ago it became apparent that there were fewer honor guard units available for funeral services than a decade ago. Chapter volunteers, many of whom still work full-time jobs, devote Saturdays providing the honor guard at funerals for local veterans. "We consider honors to be a sacred ritual," said Honor Guard member Art Reese. "By serving and helping others we are helping ourselves, and that's a real good feeling." Sharing that feeling are Doug Johnson, Dave Rich, Dave Redding, and Ken Durfesne. They are assisted by Sam Hermanstorfer, Joe Herman, and Jimmy Guitar.

On Father's Day Weekend 2001, Orange, Texas, Chapter 348 will sponsor the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, a four-fifths scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Orange County Airport. The chapter will have its Vietnam War Museum on display as a resource for visitors.

Chapter 120 in Hartford, Connecticut, reports that the state has renamed a ten-mile section of Interstate 91 the "All Airborne Memorial Highway." The designation extends from Meriden to North Haven.

In Memory

Both Chapter 787 in Valrico, Florida, and Chapter 691 in Merced, California, have run articles in their newsletters encouraging members to contribute to the In Memory Memorial Plaque project. Congress approved and President Clinton signed legislation authorizing the placement of a plaque within the 13-acre Vietnam Veterans Memorial site that recognizes those who came home from Vietnam and died later as a direct result of their service. No names will be on the plaque; rather, a simple statement will memorialize their service and sacrifice. Information on contributions to the project can be obtained by contacting Ruth Coder Fitzgerald at RcoderFitz@aol.com 

The December edition of Bayou Bugle News, the newsletter of Westbank Chapter 553 in Harvey, Louisiana, includes an e-mail sent by a young woman the chapter met when The Traveling Wall was at Zephyr Stadium. In it, she thanked the chapter for connecting her with the veteran who was with her father when he died and who carried her father's body to the helicopter that began his journey home. "I'm still baffled that after 30 years of unanswered questions, I meet with you guys and within 24 hours I'm on the telephone to a man that was right with my dad in Nam," she said. "I still can't believe it. I thought I'd be looking for a needle in a haystack."

Southwest Montana Chapter 788 in Bozeman was represented by Chuck Miller at the presentation of the second Vietnam Memorial Wall plaque at Sacajawea Middle School. The plaque was dedicated in honor of Stephen Stanford Oviatt, a U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant who was killed on December 5, 1969--ten weeks short of his 25th birthday. Oviatt's name can be found on Panel 15 West, Line 29 on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Piper John Newman, whose bagpipes filled the National City Christian Church with music during the 30th Anniversary of the Tet Offensive observation VVA conducted in January 1998, works with Chapter 161 in the Concord State Prison in the Granite State. Newman pipes in the prison courtyard in full regalia, and the veterans collect soda cans to raise money for his Food Pantry project. Newman says that through their efforts, "Thousands of pounds of food are purchased and distributed to needy vets’ families and others each year."

Donations

Dick Darnell, a member of Phoenix, Arizona, Chapter 432 reported on this year’s efforts to support the Arizona Run for The Wall. Chapter 432 and Dick's Family Kitchen have sponsored the program. At Dick's request, last year’s chapter donation was redirected to help build a playground at a Virginia school.

In addition to being named Montana Chapter of the Year in 1999, Chapter 699 in Deer Lodge has donated a total of over $5,000 to the Marines’ Toys for Tots program in the last two years. Chapter members also procure wheelchairs for the disabled at the Montana State Prison.

Chapter 649 in Batavia, Ohio, recently donated $145 to the local VFW after a fire destroyed the group’s clubhouse.

Rock Island, Illinois, Chapter 299’s Bingo operation generated more than $4,000 in donations to local community activities in November. The donations helped fund Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for the needy, Toys for Tots, Telephone Pioneers, Visiting Nurses Association, MAVA, and the Illinois State Council.

St. Albans, Vermont, Chapter 753 donated $1,000 to the Friends of Veterans, a group that provides various kinds of assistance to veterans in need.

Veteran of The Year

Among 12 Vietnam veterans selected by the Wisconsin State Council to receive Outstanding Achievement Awards, State Council Vice President Steve House was recognized as Vietnam Veteran of the Year. House has worked at the Wisconsin Veterans Home for 20 years as a treatment coordinator for the Substance Abuse Unit and coordinator for residential employment. Those receiving achievement award honors included Arthur Brushue, Dan Dahlke, Mac Dorn, Russell Haling, David Holman, and George Lemerond. Also receiving recognition were Terry Lee Hawkins, Jerome Palicki, Phillip Rosenberg, Joe Schaitel, and Tom Shepeck.

Santa Ana, California, Chapter 785 recognized two members who recently received high honors. Eileen C. Moore was sworn in as a justice of the Fourth Appelate District, Division Three, and Bea Jones was selected to receive the African American Citizen of Distinction Award from the Orange County NAACP.

Al Moore was selected as Outstanding Veteran of the Year by Chapter 755 in Kissimmee, Florida. The chapter named Linda Tuttle Outstanding Associate of the Year.

Steve Bozeman of Chapter 196 in Lynchburg was named Virginia Vietnam Veteran of the Year in ceremonies in Virginia Beach. Bozeman, who is the world record holder for completing more double Ironman Triathalons (swim 4.8 miles, bike 224 miles, run 52.4 miles without interuption) than anyone else, serves as chair of the Virginia Vietnam Veterans Reunion, which, under his leadership, has grown into the largest gathering of its kind in central Virginia. Bozeman also was inducted into the Marine Corps Marathon's Hall of Fame after running in 23 consecutive races, the past 14 of which he has carried an American flag the entire distance.

Many members of Montgomery County, Maryland, Chapter 641 attended the 25th wedding anniversary of chapter members Roland and Marie Kauffman. Despite heavy snow, Roland and Marie were surprised when nearly fifty of their friends and family feted them at the Four Points Sheraton in Bethesda.

Education

Former National President Mary Stout was joined by Len Ignatowski, both members of Northern Virginia Chapter 227 for a presentation to a class at Georgetown University. The course, The United States in the 1960s, is taught by history professor Michael Kazin and investigates the political and social events of the decade.

Kettle Moraine Chapter 448 in Newburg, Wisconsin, used its scholarship application as the front page of Welcome Home, the chapter newsletter.

Never Again…

The state of South Carolina will issue commemorative diplomas for South Carolinians who left high school early to serve in World War II. Descendents of deceased veterans who qualify can obtain special diplomas for their relatives. Additional information is available at 803-734-8333 or on the web at www.state.sc.us/sde/parcomm/veterans.htm 

San Jacinto Chapter 343 in Houston took part in the dedication of the first State Veterans Home in Texas in December. State Council President Bill Meeks, Jr., attended the opening ceremony for the 75,000-plus square foot, 160-bed facility in Floresville, near San Antonio. A 32-bed unit at the facility is devoted to Alzheimer's care.

Hospitalized Vets

Chapter 310 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, recently allocated $1,200 for the VA volunteer coffee fund for visiting patients and families through the end of February 2002.

PFC Bruce W. Carter Chapter 121 in Coral Gables, Florida, thanked all the volunteers who participated in the Thanksgiving and Christmas programs at the Miami VA Medical Center. Special recognition went to Stacy McManus, who every year makes hundreds of chocolate candies for the veterans in the hospital.

Chester County Chapter 436 in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, volunteers play volleyball at the Coatsville VA Medical Center every Thursday. The pickup teams include patients, chapter members, and friends. Chapter 436 also provides its newsletter on cassette for the visually impaired.

Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell Chapter 266 also is active at the Coatsville facility. In November, chapter members held a very successful pizza party for about thirty patients and staff. Chapter members James Chappelle, Eugene Alexander, and AVVA member Kelly Green took part.

Western Massachusetts Chapter One-Eleven sponsored a successful Christmas party at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. The chapter handed out over 70 gifts to the veteran residents of the home, along with pastries and cakes.

Homeless Veterans

The 11th Annual Riverside Homeless Veterans Care Fair was held the end of February at the National Guard Armory in Fairmont Park, California. Veterans groups work together to provide clothing, haircuts, medical exams, and other services to homeless veterans.

Stand Down

Central Minnesota Chapter 290 in St. Cloud took part in the Third Annual Minnesota Stand Down. More than fifty veterans received meals, haircuts, clothing, and legal advice after two Stearns County District Court judges resolved outstanding legal cases.

Odds 'N' Ends

Brooklyn, New York, Chapter 72 volunteered to help the handicapped on a trip around New York Harbor during Op Sail 2000.

Mike Brewer, president of Chapter 106 in Tucson, Arizona, is leading the chapter’s effort to have a Veterans Historical Museum included as part of the Rio Nuevo Project in downtown Tucson. Brewer, who has spent nearly 30 years actively involved in the downtown community, once chaired the Downtown Advisory Committee and helped with the first draft of the Rio Nueva Project.

The Maryland State Council will present VetFest 2001 at Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville August 25. The classic rock concert will feature the Satellites, Jr. Cline and the Recliners, Archie Bell, and tribute group Erick Burdon and the Animals. Contact Avery Taylor at 410-744-0008 for more information.

West Shore Chapter 249 in Bay Village, Ohio, had a booth at the American & Canadian Sport, Travel, & Outdoor Show March 17-25.

An estimated 30,000 vehicles pass the Montrose Street Overpass along southbound US 59, the Lloyd Bentsen Freeway, in Houston, Texas. Many of them see a huge billboard there with the message, "Thank A Vet For Your Freedom--Vietnam Veterans of America" and the phone number for Houston Chapter 343, which sponsored the sign.

Rochester, New York, Chapter 20 is already planning for Flag Day ceremonies in June. The chapter distributes American flags and POW/MIA flags in exchange for donations throughout the greater Rochester area.

Volunteers from Eduardo Marquez, Jr., Chapter 431 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, cleaned up Veterans Memorial Park each Monday morning in December. The clean-up duty rotates among local veterans organizations.

Delaware Chapter 83 held a Beef & Beer in February at the United Auto Workers Local 435 hall in Cranston Heights.

Chapter 236 in Janesville, Wisconsin, celebrated its 15th anniversary in February with a Dinner & Dance Birthday Party.

Robert E. Wheelock Memorial Chapter 327 in Stanhope, New Jersey, shared some of the Dalai Lama's "Instructions for Life in the New Millenium" with chapter members. Three seemed focused on Vietnam veterans: 1) Follow the three R's: Respect for self, respect for others, responsibility for all your actions; 2) Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time; and 3) Share your knowledge; it is a way to achieve immortality.

Capital Chapter 542 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, challenged the 82nd Airborne Division Association and the Randall Shugart Memorial Special Forces to a single-elimination pool match in January. No word on who beat whom yet.

Phoenix Chapter 726, Polk Correctional Institution in Polk City, Florida, thanks the civilian workers at Pride Industries for assisting Vietnam veterans. Pride has helped the chapter raise money by producing rocking horses. Proceeds go to Children's Hospital, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and others. They also make the flag stands used by most Florida chapters, burial flag cases, a special veterans stand in the facility's Visiting Park, and a special case where the chapter displays the many awards it has received.

If you're near Chouteau, Oklahoma, the Tommy Gist Memorial Chapter is forming. For information contact Carl Moback, Tulsa Chapter 524 Vice President, at 918-258-4861.

Holiday Department

Among many chapters around the country that celebrated the holidays with a chapter party or by sponsored a party at a nearby veterans facility were Chapter 82 in Hicksville, New York; Chapter 787 in Valrico, Florida; Chapter 454 in Louisville, Kentucky; Rock Island, Illinois, Chapter 299; Chapter 534 in Springfield, Illinois; and Chapter One-Eleven in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Mail chapter newsletters and state newspapers to VVA Membership Notes, 8719 Colesville Road, Suite 100, Suite 400, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3710.

   

E-mail us at TheVeteran@vva.org

 

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