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

April/May 2002

FROM THE NATIONAL CHAPLAIN

TAPS 

BY REV. PHIL SALOIS, M.S.

James Edward Pechin, Vietnam Veterans of America’s business manager for many years, died February 26 in York, Pennsylvania, as a result of kidney failure related to hepatitis C and diabetes. Pechin, 54, was a long - time veterans advocate who served a 14 - month tour as a US Army helicopter mechanic door gunner based in Nha Trang. Born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, Pechin earned a degree in business management from Indiana State University. He was a founding member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War in Indiana, and participated in Operation Dewey Canyon III, the 1971 antiwar demonstration led by Vietnam veterans in Washington, D.C. Pechin lived in California in the early and mid - 1970s where he was a leading a number of Flower of the Dragon, a Vietnam veterans support group in Santa Rosa, and a founding member of Swords to Ploughshares, the San Francisco veterans advocacy organization. In recognition of his work for veterans with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Pechin received the National Veteran Advocate of the Year Award in 1983 and certificates of appreciation from the White House Veterans Coordination Committee and the White House Conference on Small Business in 1980. In VVA’s early years, Pechin organized and developed the organization’s business office, which he oversaw until 1994. After leaving VVA, he owned and operated The Veterans Thrift Store in York. Survivors include his mother, Loretta Pechin, and three sisters, Sharla Gray, Theresa Kline, and Pam Van Laere.   

Ronald Franklin Ceckowski committed suicide on November 26, 2001, in Cass   City, Michigan. He suffered greatly from Post‑traumatic Stress Disorder, which was   exacerbated by the terrorist attacks of September 11. He was born May 11, 1948, in   Detroit to Virginia (Kapa) and Stephen Ceckowski. He married Carole Trueman in 1986.   In addition to his mother and his wife, he is survived by his daughter, Loraine Lorkowski;   his son, Samuel; his stepdaughter and her husband, Wendy and Van Hauswirth; two brothers and sisters‑in‑law, Leonard and Ann, and Gerald and Denise; and his sister and brother‑in‑law, Arlene and Mark Worl. Ceckowski served in the U.S. Army as an infantryman in the Vietnam War from October 1968 to October 1970.  He served with Company B, 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry at the rank of Specialist Four. He retired as a Lieutenant from the Detroit Fire Department after 28 years of service.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Detroit Chapter 9. Funeral services were conducted in Kranz Funeral Home in Cass City, with interment in Novesta Township Cemetery in Cass City. 

 D=Armond “Dee” Burnett died October 16, 2001, in Reading, Ohio. Burnett was born April 5, 1930, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to James and Muriel Burnett. He is   survived by his wife, Ann; three sons, Derrick, Kevin, and Steven; three daughters‑in‑law, Michele, Karen, and Cereta; and a brother, Carl. Burnett served in the U.S. Army in Korea,   Okinawa, and Vietnam. He retired after 25 years of service at the rank of E‑8 Master   Sergeant. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Uhlmansiek Chapter 10 in   Reading. Funeral services were conducted in the Epworth United Methodist Chapel in Reading. 

Albert J. Bandolyal died October 14, 2000, at his home in Easton, Pennsylvania. He was born June 9, 1935, in Irvington, New Jersey. He is survived by two daughters, Gina La Mora and Lisa White; and a sister, Doris Ronceray. Bandolyal served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam. He also served with the Peace Corps from 1982‑84.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑New Brunswick (New   Jersey) Chapter 233.  Funeral services were conducted in the Opacity Funeral Home in Kenilworth, Pennsylvania. 

Charles P. Brennan died October 24, 2001, in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. He was born June 7, 1947, in Lynn, Massachusetts, to Fredrick and Rita  Brennan. Brennan is survived by his wife, Anne; one son, Russell; six daughters, Judy Lajoie, Rebecca, Lisa, Patricia, Crystal, and Jennifer; and one brother, Frederick. He served in the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War. He was a member of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church in Gardner. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Quabbin Valley Chapter 405 in Ware, Massachusetts. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church, and interment was in Notre Dame Cemetery in Gardner.

Irwin Boswell Fields died October 14, 2001, in Elizabethton, Tennessee. He was born March 2, 1935, in Springfield, Massachusetts, to Samuel and Leila Bailey Fields. He is survived by his wife, Mary; two daughters and a son‑in‑law, Julia and Bill McDonald and Susan Fields; two sons and a daughter‑in‑law, Robert, and Irwin and Melissa; and a sister, Leila Jean Owens. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Korean War and had two tours of duty in the Vietnam War. He retired from the Marine Corps at the rank of First Sergeant. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Elizabethton Chapter 824.  Funeral Services were conducted at the Hathaway‑Percy Funeral Home‑Sunset Chapel, with interment in the Happy Valley Memorial Park. 

David L. Johnson died October 7, 2001, in Bloomington, Minnesota. He was   born September 14, 1949, in Minneapolis.  He is survived by his parents, Leonard and Geraldine Johnson; four brothers, Steven, Thomas, Daniel, and Donald; and three sisters and two brothers‑in‑law, Kathryn and Richard Thompson, Mariann Johnson, and Kristen and John Arehart. Johnson served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam as a Combat Medic. He was an at‑large member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Minnesota.  A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in the Church of the Nativity of Mary in Bloomington, with interment in the Fort Snelling National Cemetery. 

Leslie M. Lewis died November 29, 2001, in Lompoc, California. Lewis was   born November 10, 1919, to George and Emma Lewis in Minnehaha County, South Dakota. He grew up on the family farm in Larchwood, Iowa.  He married Zelda Johnson in 1946.  In addition to his wife of 54 years, Lewis is survived by two daughters, Mary and Leslee; a son, George; and a brother, Robert. He served in the U.S. Navy as a mechanic and in the Army Air Corps as a bomber pilot in World War II. He was recalled during the Korean War in the U.S. Air Force as a weather and cargo pilot, missile maintenance officer.  He was an installation commander in the Vietnam War.  He served a total of 32 years before retiring in 1972 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Lompoc Chapter 743. A memorial service was celebrated at the First Presbyterian Church in Lompoc. He was buried in Oregon. 

 Robert David McCarthy died November 7, 2001, in Pensacola, Florida. He was born June 6, 1949, in Waterbury, Connecticut.  He is survived by his son, Robert. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.  He was an at‑large member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Florida.  Funeral Services were conducted in Faith Chapel Funeral Home.

John Thomas Ramsey died December 1, 2001, in Trenton, Florida.  Ramsey was born January 11, 1950, in Miami. He is survived by his wife Connie “Cricket” Ramsey. He served in the U.S. Army with the 101st Airborne Division in the Vietnam War.  He was a Life Member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Cape Coral Chapter 594.  Funeral services were conducted in the Priscilla Baptist Church, with interment in the Florida National Cemetery.

William D. Johnson II died October 14, 2001, in Le Roy, New York. He was born October 14, 1931, in Batavia, New York, to John and Louise Hackett Johnson.  Johnson is survived by two sons and daughters‑in‑law, John and Wendy, and Mark and Gail. Johnson served in the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Le Roy Chapter 193. Funeral services were conducted at the Cameron, Brady and Steuber Funeral Home in Batavia. Interment was in the Machpelah Cemetery. 

Stephen W. Taylor died May 2, 2001, in Reading, Ohio, after a lengthy battle with cancer.  He was born May 28, 1947, in Cincinnati. Taylor is survived by his wife Carol; his son, Nick; and four sisters, Elaine Bates, Norene Williams, Deborah Craig, and Kimberley Phillips. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam with the First Air Cavalry Division.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Uhlmansieck Chapter 10 in Reading.  A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in St. Ignatius Loyola Roman Catholic Church in Reading, with interment in the St. Joseph Cemetery. 

Thomas A. Baird died February 6 at his home in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.   Baird was born May 24, 1952, to Betty (Van Schoyck) and Robert Baird.  In addition to his mother, Baird is survived by his his wife, Pam; daughter, Jenny Rockwood; and his sister, Becky Bechtel. Baird served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era from 1973‑76. Baird was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Monroe Chapter 142. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at the St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Monroe.  Full military honors were  provided by VVA Chapter 142 at the burial in Roselawn Memorial Park. 

 John Joseph Betz died January 27 in Philadelphia. He was born May 18, 1945,  to Vernon and Dorothy Betz. In addition to his father, Betz is survived by his daughter, Dorothy “Missy” Perez; and two brothers and one sister‑in‑law, William and Mary Ann and Jack Gatto. Betz served in the U.S. Army from 1963 to 1966 with service in Vietnam.  He was the first Life Member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Liberty Bell Chapter 266 in Philadelphia to die. 

William Bickerstaff died January 15 in Chester, New York. He was born May  30, 1944.  He was a veteran of the Vietnam War and a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Pleasantville Chapter 49. 

Robert M. Chapman died October 19, 2001, in Celina, Ohio. He was born  September 14, 1947.  Among his survivors is his sister, Phyllis.  Chapman served in the U.S. Army with the 123rd Transportation Company during the Vietnam War, just outside Cam Ranh Bay.  He was a Charter Member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Grand Lake Chapter 783 in Celina. Chapman was interred in the family plot in Jerome, Ohio. 

Donald P. Cochran died September 28, 2001, in Southern California. A veteran  of the Vietnam War, he had volunteered more than 10,000 hours at the VA Medical Center in Long Beach, California.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Long Beach Chapter 756. 

Clarence Covington died recently in the Greensville Correctional Center in   Jarratt, Virginia.  Covington was born on November 7, 1939.  He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.  He was an incarcerated member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Blackstone Chapter 806. 

Thomas Allen Creel died October 2, 2001, in Greenville, North Carolina.  He   was born January 3, 1940.  He was a veteran of the Vietnam War and a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Greenville Chapter 272. 

Anthony C. DeSaro died February 17 at his home in Somerville, New Jersey.   DeSaro was born in 1945 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He is survived by his wife, Carol; two sons, Dean and Michael; two daughters, Kasey and Danielle; his mother, Evelyn; and two brothers, Robert and Gary.  DeSaro served in the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Flemington Chapter 452.  A Mass for Christian Burial was celebrated in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Somerville. 

Louis J. D'Onofrio died February 1 in New Rochelle, New York. He was born  October 29, 1945, in New Rochelle to Joseph and Antoinette D'Onofrio. In addition to his father, D'Onofrio is survived by his wife, Susan; a daughter, Michelle Hennessy; a son, Louis, Jr.; a sister, Joann D'Orio; and a brother, Carl.  D'Onofrio served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Pleasantville Chapter 49.  A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at Holy Family Roman Catholic Church in New Rochelle.  Interment was in Beechwood Cemetery. 

John S. Duff died December 4, 2001, in the West Roxbury Division of the VA   Boston Healthcare System in Massachusetts.  He died after a long battle with multiple myeloma. He was born October 10, 1940, in Webster, Massachusetts, to George and Rosalind (Murray) Duff.  He is survived by his wife, Marjorie; a son, Robert; a daughter, Cynthia Osper; a brother, James; and three sisters, Jean Berry, Janet Alfieri, and Jill Phinney. Duff served 33 years in the U.S. Army, retiring as a Colonel in 1991.  He served in Vietnam with the 199th Light Infantry Brigade.  He was an activist for veterans rights.  He  was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Auburn Chapter 554.  He was instrumental in preserving almost a thousand acres of open space in the Blackstone Valley and was an organizer in creating the Lake Manchaug Greenway and Wildlife Corridor. A memorial service was conducted in the First Congregational Church.  Interment was in the West Sutton Cemetery. 

Leroy R. Garrison died recently in New Orleans.  He was born July 1, 1949.  He was a veteran of the Vietnam War and a Life Member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑New Orleans Chapter 384.  

Frederick Nathan Gott died October 9, 2001, in Charleston, South Carolina. Gott was a resident of Ella Bell, Georgia.  He was born July 8, 1938, in Bar Harbor, Maine. He is survived by his wife, Mary; a daughter, Bonnie; two sons, Chris and Fred, Jr.; his mother, Celia Mary Cousen; a stepdaughter, Shirley Loveday; a stepson, Gerald Smith; four sisters, Marie Totan, Pearl Jorda, Mary Jane Ash, and Louise Miller; and a brother, Richard.  Gott served in the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and the Air National Guard. He was a veteran of the Vietnam War.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Savannah Chapter 671.  He was a member of the Trinity Baptist Church in Ella Bell where his funeral  service was celebrated.  Interment was in the Ash Branch Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery. 

Robert Charles Hall died January 12 at his residence in Lawton, Oklahoma, as a result of colonic adenocarcinoma with metastases. The cause of death is believed to be Agent‑Orange‑related. Hall was born August 8, 1932, in Buffalo, New York, to Daniel and Margrett Hall.  In addition to his wife, Janice, he is survived by three daughters, Tonya Briere, Teresa Sappoff, and Tina Benton; and one sister, Margaret Cornell. Hall served in the U.S. Army with tours of duty in Korea and in Vietnam. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Lawton Chapter 751. 

Jack Allan “Tunnel Rat” Henshaw died February 28 at his home in Las Vegas. Henshaw was born in 1942.  He is survived by his wife, Joanna.  Henshaw served in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years with service in Vietnam.  His awards include the Silver Star, Bronze Star with V Device, two Purple Hearts, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Commendation Medal for Valor, and two Good Conduct Medals. Henshaw earned the nickname "Tunnel Rat" for crawling through Viet Cong tunnels with a .45 pistol. In 1993, Henshaw cofounded The National Veterans Organization of America to assist veterans who were having problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs. He was a  member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Las Vegas Chapter 17.  Henshaw was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on March 19.  

Donald R. Heslip, Sr., died July 31, 2001, in Escanaba, Michigan.  He was born April 30, 1941, in Escanaba.  He is survived by his wife, Gert.  Heslip served in the U.S. Coast Guard during the Vietnam War and was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Escanaba Chapter 345. 

Woody Hoffman died December 15, 2001, in Yarmouth, Massachusetts. He was born September 21, 1946, in White Plains, New York.  He is survived by his wife, Chris. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1966‑68 in Vietnam. He was a Life Member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Hyannis Chapter 338. 

Bruce D. Howard died September 6, 2001, in Yspilanti, Michigan. Howard was  born February 27, 1956.  He was a veteran of the Armed Forces and an incarcerated member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Jackson Chapter 657. 

Vernita Jefford died January 28 in Bettendorf, Iowa. Jefford was born May 15, 1945.  Jefford was a Life Member of Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Bettendorf Chapter 776. 

Dennis W. Kramer died August 6, 1998, in Michigan.  Kramer was a veteran of  the Vietnam War and a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Grand Rapids Chapter 18. 

William J. Lucas died March 7 in Frederick, Maryland, after a long battle with   lung cancer.  Lucas served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam.  He served 29 years as a Maryland State Trooper and was Barracks Commander in Hagerstown, Maryland.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Frederick Chapter 304.  Funeral services were conducted at the Stauffer Funeral Home in Frederick on March 9. 

Joseph R. Lunghofer died recently in Billings, Montana.  Lunghofer was a   veteran of the Vietnam War and a Life Member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Havre Chapter 420.  

Eugene Bruce Mapp, 66, died when struck by a reckless driver while taking a  walk on August 13, 2001, in Machipongo, Virginia. Mapp was born in Cheriton,  Virginia, to Maurice and Zerra Mapp.  He is survived by his wife, Nancy; and a daughter and son‑in‑law, Lisa and Calvin Hagan. Mapp retired from the U.S. Army with service in Vietnam.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Onley Chapter 614.  Graveside services were conducted in Belle Haven Cemetery. 

Joseph S. Novajosky died recently in Linden, New Jersey.  He was a veteran of  the Vietnam War and a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Flemington Chapter 452. 

Gerald B. Popen died January 2 in Rochester, New York, due to complications  related to Parkinson's Disease.  He was born to Rose and Stanley Popen.  In addition to his mother, Popen is survived by his wife Alice; two daughters, Tammy and Kim; two brothers and a sister‑in‑law, Stanley and Jean, and Wayne; and a sister and brother‑in‑law, Patricia and Kenneth Wamey.  Popen was a Vietnam veteran and a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑Rochester Chapter 20. Funeral services were celebrated in the Lutheran Church of Our Saviour in Rochester. Interment was in White Haven Memorial Park. 

Joseph E. Schifley died February 23 in Manchester, Connecticut. A resident of  Tolland, Connecticut, he was born December 19, 1936, in Olean, New York, to Charles and Frances (Kessler) Schifley. He is survived by his wife, Prudence; a daughter, Rebecca; two sons and daughters‑in‑law, Peter and Michelle, and Chris and Tiffany; and a brother, Charles, Jr. He served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years with service in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America‑East Hartford Chapter 120.  His wife is also a member of the VVA Chapter 120 and is a veteran service officer.  A memorial service with full military honors was celebrated at the Holmes Funeral Home in Manchester.

   


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