The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

January/February 2003
MEMBERSHIP NOTES
   
 


NEVER AGAIN WILL ONE GENERATION OF VETERANS ABANDON ANOTHER

A VVA STAFF REPORT


Chapter 767 in Racine, Wisconsin, collected more than 400 pounds of goods for military personnel serving overseas. The much-needed items were distributed by the Red Cross to American bases in Kosovo, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan.

Members of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Chapter 862 escort World War II and Korean War veterans in patriotic observances. Some of the veterans are in wheelchairs, and 30 Chapter Honor Guard members vie for the honor of helping them.

The Anoka, Minnesota, Chapter 470 Honor Guard provided final honors on 211occasions in 2002. The Honor Guard is widely sought after and highly regarded. Its service to the community was highlighted in front-page articles in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press. The chapter also participated in the dedication of the World War II Veterans Memorial at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery. The bronze plaque features a full-color replica of the World War II Victory Medal ribbon.

U.S. Navy veteran Charlie Bowyer of Chapter 877 in Chouteau, Oklahoma, sent a copy of an article, "Reflection on Veterans Day," that ran in The Daily Times on November 14, 2002. If bank tellers, loan officers, and postal workers get Veterans Day off, the article asks, "shouldn't the men and women who fought for our country be allowed to take one day off a year, and get paid for it? Yes, they should." The article goes on to say: "Take the time to thank a vet. We shouldn't just thank them one day out of a year. We should thank them every day out of the year." The article is signed, Kenny Bowyer, Charlie's son.

AVVA member Barry Lee Evans was master of ceremonies at the Second Annual Veterans Day program at the State Correctional Institution in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. He paid tribute to his brother, John Roy Evans, whose name is on The Wall. The program included music, individual presentations, and keynote speaker Dan Yost, a Special Forces veteran of Vietnam.

HONORS

In 1997, the remains of Dearborn, Michigan, resident James Linton Huard were identified, and he was buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. A delegation from Chapter 310 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, attended that ceremony in 1997. While in Washington for the March To Remember in November, chapter member Gary Lillie, a boyhood friend of Huard's, took fellow chapter members Randy Johnson and John Kinzinger to visit the gravesite.

The Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge presented Army LTC Connie Dyer (Ret.) with the George Washington Medal of Honor for "Outstanding Achievements and Community Service." Dyer is a member of Chapter 23 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

As a Navy Corpsman in Vietnam, Alan R. Wallace saw his share of combat misery. On September 11, 2001, the Northern Virginia Chapter 227 member was one of the first emergency personnel to respond to the attack on the Pentagon. As the senior fire fighter stationed just yards from the point of impact, Wallace called for backup and began rescue operations. On September 19, 2002, he was presented the Dean K. Phillips Memorial Award for his actions that day. The award is named in honor of the chapter namesake. Wallace is the third recipient in the chapter's 17-year history.

MEMORIALS

Chapter 698 in Bluffton, Indiana, has begun a project to honor the memory of local resident Thomas Wayne Bishop, who was killed in Vietnam on May 15, 1968, nine days prior to his 21st birthday. The Tom Bishop Memorial Project will place a plaque at the site of his boyhood home, now merged into Bluffton's park system. A Memorial Day 2003 dedication is planned. Donations can be made to: Tom Bishop Memorial Project, VVA Chapter 698, 1031 Sycamore Lane, Bluffton, IN 46714.

Last July 4, Blue-Gray Chapter 628 in Princeton, West Virginia, dedicated the In Honor of All Veterans mural on the side of chapter headquarters. Artists Tom Acosta and Elden Justice began work on the project in the spring and worked tirelessly until the dedication ceremony. The mural portrays every element of military service and equipment from tanks to submarines to B-52s and CH-47 Chinook helicopters. It covers the entire wall, measuring about 30 feet high by 60 feet long. The community turned out in force for the ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Chapter President Ed Taylor, who was joined by Vice President Rex Marcum, Secretary Jerry Midkiff, and Treasurer Tracy Chochran.

Texarkana, Texas, Chapter 278 dedicated a new memorial to all area veterans at the New Boston Bowie County Courthouse on Veterans Day.

MOVING WALLS

On November 7, 2002, the Color Guard for Chapter 691 in Merced, California, presented the colors at Frank Sparkes School. Then they rushed 30 miles to present the colors at the Opening Ceremonies of The Wall That Heals, hosted by Modesto Chapter 880.

Genesee County Chapter 175 in Flint, Michigan, will host The Moving Wall in June. The Traveling Viet-Nam Wall will be presented by Chapter 331 in River Falls, Wisconsin, in September.

DONATIONS

River Falls, Wisconsin, Chapter 331 donated $200 to the Region's Hospital Cancer Center.

Chapter 545 in Carson City, Nevada, raised more than $23,000 last year. These funds financed projects in the community and the prison. Two fundraising barbecues provided money for the purchase of baseball and soccer equipment and the construction of a water line to the upper yard. Another donation helped Empire Elementary School buy supplies. The chapter also purchased a new carpet for the prison chapel.

COMMUNITY SERVICE

Richmond, Indiana, Chapter 777 again distributed turkeys and Christmas boxes filled with food this past holiday season.

PRISONERS AND POW/MIAs

Members of Chapter 129 in Jackson, Michigan, wrote to the president of Spring Arbor University (SAU) and asked if it would be the first university to fly the POW/MIA flag.

University President Gayle D. Beebe said she would gladly accept and fly the flag as a "reminder of the importance of honoring our dead and missing." On Veterans Day, Deputy Assistant Warden Carol Vallie represented Chapter 129 in a presentation of a POW/MIA flag to SAU. The Jackson, Michigan, Chapter 109 Color Guard was present for the ceremony.

SEPTEMBER 11 APPRECIATION

In the aftermath of the September 11 attack, Chapter 200 in Bricktown, New Jersey, donated $1,000 to the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) to help those who lost loved ones. As a token of gratitude, the PAPD recently presented the chapter with a small cross made from structural iron recovered from Ground Zero.

EVERY DOG GETS HIS DUE

The American Kennel Club's DOGNY program provides financial aid to canine search and rescue organizations across the country. The New York State Council is sponsoring one of the several hundred plastic dog statues that have been placed around the city. The chapter dog, adorned with camouflage, dog tags, helmet, poncho, and other military gear, is in the lobby of the VA Medical Center in Manhattan. At a wreath-laying ceremony, New York State Council President John Rowan said, "A lot of our guys were dog handlers, so they really appreciate this."

CHILDREN

Sumner County, Tennessee, Chapter 240 in Gallatin sponsored 43 families for the holidays and collected food and toys. A Santa Convoy wound its way through Sumner County escorted by the county sheriff and the National Guard.

The Tommy Bill Memorial Chapter 833 in Bowling Green, Missouri, donated 45 ponytails to agencies that provide wigs for children who have lost their hair because of illness. The "Show You Care, Donate Your Hair" program was a great success.

Chapter 470 took part in the annual Walk for Abducted and Missing Children in December. The 10-mile walk calls attention to the plight of missing children.

IN SERVICE TO AMERICA

After September 11, Jim Testor of Columbia, South Carolina, Chapter 303 was called up to active duty. Testor served in the Coast Guard during Vietnam, then joined the Naval Reserve where he attained the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer. He is now serving aboard the USS LaSalle in Italy with the Sixth Fleet. Last summer he was promoted to Master Chief Petty Officer and had a brief stint as Fleet Command Master Chief.

HOMELESS

Chapter 787 in Tampa Bay, Florida, set a goal of 125 meals for homeless veterans in the Tampa VA Homeless Program during the holidays. In a 25-day fund-raising blitz (augmented by a chapter donation), they provided a healthy holiday dinner to every one of the 127 veterans and family members served by the program.

ODDS 'N' ENDS

Des Moines, Iowa, Chapter 490 members Roger Elliott and Ray Hutchinson washed 20 years of accumulated grime from the Iowa Vietnam Veterans Wall and helped other veterans install flag poles.

If you're in Bozeman, Montana, March 1, drop in and take part in the Chapter 788 Pancake and Sausage Breakfast at the United Methodist Church located at the corner of Olive and Willson Avenues.

San Jacinto Chapter 343 in Houston took part in the Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Day parade in January.

Hill Country Chapter 863 in Kerrville, Texas, sponsored the Second Annual Veterans Day Open Car Show at the South Texas VA facility. Ninety vehicles, from Highboy roadsters to chopped and channeled coupes and sedans, were in the show.

Chapter 261 in Lima, Ohio, helped produce 6,500 pounds of vegetables in four gardens to feed the needy in the Lima area. The chapter also donated money to buy school supplies for the children of a local family, and then ``adopted'' the family to make sure they had a Merry Christmas.

Northern Virginia Chapter 227's 14th DMZ to Delta Dance was an overflow success. Ticket sales had to be halted because the room reached its 450-person capacity. As people left, tickets were sold to take their places. Helping make this event the place to be November 10 were Paul and Cyndi Stancliff, Len and Diane Ignatowski, Joe and Sharon Celesnik, Jack McMahon, Florence Brennan, and Jonathan Olson. Together with Bob and Ardis Mills, Cathie Solomonson, Bruce Hanneman, Ed Henry, Margaret Stern, Charlie Klein, Len Funk, Jay Schrand, and Lonnie Bryan, plans are already in the works for next year's DMZ to Delta Dance.

   

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