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

October 2001/November 2001

Membership Notes

A VVA Staff Report

Note: Most material in this report was written prior to September 11.

In The Aftermath

Chapter 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada, sponsored a Radiothon in front of chapter headquarters and collected $10,545 for disaster relief. Chapter 172 in Cumberland, Maryland, raised more than $700 passing the hat at the chapter picnic. San Jacinto Chapter 343 in Houston donated $1,000 to the relief effort. Chapter 243 in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, trucked its Huey helicopter to the parking lot of the local Mail Boxes Etc. and handed out American flags to everyone who stopped by. Anoka, Minnesota, Chapter 470 participated in a memorial service September 16 in which chapter members displayed a huge American flag as part of the ceremony. Chapter 240 in Sumner County, Georgia, took part in fundraising for the relief effort in mid-October at the Gallatin Wal-Mart.

Honors

Phoenix Chapter 726 at the Polk Correctional Institution in Polk City, Florida, received three honors during a Special Awards Presentation in August. Florida State Council President Dave McMichael presented Chapel of the Four Chaplains Legion of Honor certificates to Armando Leon, Jr., and Ron Varner. They were recognized for distinguished service to the veterans’ community. Leon was recognized for his work with the Hummingbird Club, writing letters to nursing home residents around the world. Varner operates "Operation Recon," a support group for incarcerated and homeless veterans. McMichael then presented a Legion of Honor certificate to the entire chapter for its outstanding efforts on behalf of the Children’s Hospital and Children's Burn Unit. Newly elected Region IV Director John Koprowski attended the ceremony.

Chapter 834 at the correctional facility in Lovelock, Nevada, was honored to award John Stahl the Navy Humanitarian Service Award. Stahl received the award for his actions while serving aboard the USS Ranger (CV-61) in the face of Hurricane Olga. He and his fellow shipmates risked their lives to assist hundreds of men, women, and children of the Philippines.

East Hartford, Connecticut, Chapter 120 Secretary Billee Cullin had the honor of presenting the Order of the Silver Rose Award to the family of deceased chapter member Paul James Coen, Jr., who died of cancer due to his exposure to Agent Orange. Coen's parents, Josephine and Paul James Coen, accepted the award. They were joined by their daughter, Terry A. Yarlott, and her children, David and Paula Jean. Coen served in Danang with the Marine Corps.

Chapter 310 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, dedicates each issue of its newsletter to a fallen comrade from the area. By acclamation of the chapter membership, all 2001 issues of the 310 Dispatch will be dedicated to the women who served in Vietnam.

Dick Dedham, a member of Ocean County Chapter 855 in Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey, was recently presented with the New Jersey Distinguished Service Medal.

"Chapter 787 is #1 in the Nation" proclaims The Outpost. A plaque was presented to Valrico, Florida, Chapter President Tom Hall at the National Convention in August, as was the "We’re Number One" banner from 2000 VVA Chapter of the Year. Chapter 172 in Cumberland, Maryland, had the banner made in 1998. In 1999, it was presented to Chapter 310 when they were named in Anaheim.

Nebraska State Council President Al Martinez recently presented employees at the Omaha VAMC with Certificates of Appreciation. Receiving the recognition from the GI Endoscopy/Bronhoscopy Center were Jenny McCarthy, Vicki Martin, Patti Pinkes, Brenda Blunt, Rob Ludwig, and Dr. Stephen Lanspa. Also recognized were Gale Grzywa, Dr. John Hunziker, Dr. Terry North, Dr. Chris Heaney, Don Wilson, Natalie Baker, Brenda Sullivan, Doug Thomas, and Dr. Elizabeth Dahl of the PTSD Clinical Team and the Mental Health Clinic.

Memorials

Chapter 299 in Rock Island, Illinois, participated in the dedication of two memorials at Rock Island National Cemetery in September. The memorial plaques honored Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Wives and have been placed along the cemetery’s Memorial Walkway.

POW/MIA Remembrance

Among many chapters that participated in POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies were Chapter 691 in Merced, California; Chapter 303 in Columbia, South Carolina; and Chapter 432 in Phoenix, Arizona. They were joined by active-duty officers from Luke Air Force Base who marched with the POW/MIA flag from the base to the Arizona Memorial at Wesley Bolin Plaza.

Scholarship

Richard Anders Chapter 100 in Athens, Ohio, awarded four scholarships to high school seniors. Beth Baker and Wade Martin of Athens High School and Michelle Doughty and Wesley Hunter of Alexander High School were presented grants that will be used for college expenses.

Chapter 510 in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, presented scholarships to Stefanie DeOrio, Jessica DeMarco, and Annin Johnson.

Hospitalized Vets

Lee Beyer and Chapter 436 in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, report that a former patient of the Coatesville VAMC is now running the volleyball program at the hospital. If you are looking for some friendly exercise, check it out Thursday nights at 7:00 at the Great Hall, Building 5.

Liberty Bell Chapter 266 in Philadelphia received a letter of thanks for sponsoring a pizza party at the Coatesville VAMC.

Never Again

Chapter 825 in Mays Landing, New Jersey, provided members for a joint color guard during the unveiling of five additional names on the Korean War Veteran’s Memorial in Brighton Park. Chapter members Ed Davis and Lou Selmi, who are Korean War veterans, joined with other members in the salute.

Chapter 432 in Phoenix, Arizona, acknowledged the passing of Lloyd Botimer, a 104-year-old World War I veteran who was an active participant in local veterans' activities.

Members of Anoka, Minnesota, Chapter 470 have been replacing worn and damaged headstones of Civil War and War of 1812 veterans in Anoka's oldest cemetery. The chapter has replaced nine of the 235-pound grave markers.

Donations

Chapter 299 in Rock Island, Illinois, listed the recipients of chapter donations for a three-month period in a recent issue of Shoulder To Shoulder. It is an extensive list. Rock Island National Cemetery, Military Order of Cooties, Quad Cities Ballet Folklorico, and Arrowhead Ranch were beneficiaries of the chapter generosity. Also benefiting are the Boys and Girls Clubs, Catholic Order of Foresters, East Moline Police Drug Book, Sons and Daughters In Touch, Illinois AVVA, Army Ball, and Vets Day Iowa.

Suffolk County Chapter 11 in Farmingville, New York, donated $250 to the Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund in Jacksonville, North Carolina. The memorial will be built at Camp Lejeune adjacent to the Beirut Memorial in the newly dedicated Veterans Memorial Park. Upon completion, the memorial will be transferred to the Marine Corps Base, and the Marines will provide perpetual maintenance.

2001 Convention Coverage

Many chapter newsletters contained reports on VVA’s Tenth National Convention in Greensboro. A sample of coverage includes a report on the three Marines who were guests of honor at the Saturday evening banquet, actor R. Lee Ermey who portrayed the inflexible DI in Full Metal Jacket, Ned Broderick, founder of the Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Chicago, and Associated Press reporter and Vietnam veteran Terry Anderson, who was kidnapped in Beirut and held for seven years as a hostage. Nevada State Council Perimeter Guard received the State Council Newsletter of the Year Award in Greensboro and filled the post-convention issue with photos of activities of the convention. Between The Lines, of Chapter 20 in Rochester, New York, included reports from delegates who attended all of the committee hearings at the convention. Chapter 303 in Columbia, South Carolina, began its report: "Over 600 delegates deployed…met by the VVA staff (who were well prepared for the invasion) and their Drill Sergeants (Sarge’s security staff)…Vietnam veterans were greeted much warmer than they had been on their return from Vietnam decades earlier." Newly elected Secretary Mary Ellen White wrote about the experience of her seventh national convention and concluded with: "My new career started bright and early Sunday at 9:00 a.m. when the new board and officers met for the first time."

Community Service

Chapter 855 works with pet therapists at the Toms River Nursing Home. The group includes AVVA members Joyce Forlaw and Nicole DeSalvo, who join Golden Retrievers, Black Labs, and German Shepherd/Akita mixes in bringing love and enjoyment to the residents of the home.

Yosef Muhammed, special project chair for Chapter 466 in Graterford, Pennsylvania, reports on activities at the Ninth Annual Round Robin Softball Elimination Tournament. Proceeds from the charity event conducted on the prison compound have benefited a variety of children’s projects. Cosponsor for the event was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and for the second year, the money raised will assist Support for Kids with an Incarcerated Parent of the Pennsylvania Prison Society. The program helps kids between 8 and 12 understand the feelings and effects of having an incarcerated parent. The program offers peer support, organized activities, education, and fellowship time.

Chapter 240 in Sumner County, Tennessee, is raising money to take Vietnam veterans and their families to Washington, D.C., to observe the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on November 11, 2002. The chapter wants to provide a special escort service for those who have not yet had an opportunity to visit The Wall.

Odds ‘n’ Ends

Since the August convention, Chapter 343 in Houston isn’t letting any grass grow under its feet. The chapter is planning its annual Veteran’s Day Benefit Barbecue, the Holiday Celebration with Veterans Incarcerated at the Ramsey 1 Unit, the H.O.P.E. Thanksgiving Dinner, and staffing the concession booth at Rice Stadium during the football season.

Rock River Chapter 236 in Janesville, Wisconsin, returned from the convention with a full slate for September, including the Labor Day Parade, Chili-Mania, the Junction Function in Milton, and POW/MIA Day ceremonies.

Chapter 12 in Allenhurst, New Jersey, anticipates some improvement in service for veterans since funding for an outpatient clinic in Monmouth County was approved. The clinic should ease overcrowding at the Ocean County VA facility; $1.68 million has been set aside for the project.

Steve Parsons of Chapter 172 in Cumberland, Maryland, reports that the Marine Corps is changing the camouflage patterns on its utilities to a distinctly Marine pattern. The computer-designed cammies were developed using more vivid colors and will, "allow a Marine to disappear into the underbrush in seconds."

Texarkana Chapter 278 is working with the Arkansas State Council to assist the Save The Montagnard People, Inc. A truckload of clothes, shoes, toys, and household items will be on the way shortly.

Chapter 55 in Licking, Ohio, was invited by Chapter 42 in Zanesville to participate in the annual Vietnam Veterans Bike Show. The chapter brought along its own chopper, a UH 1-B Huey, and won the trophy.

The Delaware State Council was a participant in the Fourth Annual Veterans Homecoming 2001 in early November. The event offers information on veterans’ benefits, social services, employment opportunities, and other important information.

Region 1 Director John Miner will host a regional conference next spring at the New Hampshire Veterans Association Reservation.

Chapter 272 in Greenville, North Carolina, participated in ceremonies at The North Carolina Wall on Independence Day and Veterans Day.

Chapter 310 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has a mystery member who is interviewed as part of an ABC TV program about a specific action in Vietnam. The show will air on December 18.

Chapter 862 in Freedom, Pennsylvania, held its First Duck Race on the Ohio River. Little yellow plastic ducks were cast upon the water. The first little yellow ducky to reach an assigned point was declared the winner.

Firebase 510, the newsletter of Chapter 510 in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, concluded a report on a recent chapter meeting with this comment: "Being that the President cannot remember if there was any further business, and being that the President took the minutes, it was decided to quit while we were ahead. A motion was made to adjourn. Needless to say, the motion carried."

Genesee County, Michigan, Chapter 175 is collecting register tapes. The money will support the annual Christmas Food Basket Program.

Chapter 17 in Las Vegas raised $9,544 for the New York City/World Trade Center Disaster Relief Fund drive during the week of September 14-23. AVVA collected $3,026 by making flag pins inspired by Annie Pancrazio, Rosa Fabian, and Joan Earl. Additional AVVA donations brought the total to $12,570. The drive was inspired by Mike Giancola, an 11-year member of Chapter 17, and manned by both VVA and AVVA members of Chapter 17. Radio station 97.1 managed a live remote show in support of the effort. Two checks were delivered to New York State Council President John Rowan by Nevada State Council President Virgie Hibbler on October 10 to assist veterans and families of missing World Trade Center victims.

   

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