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

May/June 2003
FROM THE NATIONAL CHAPLAIN
 
 

Taps

BY REV.PHIL SALOIS, M.S.

Mike Burden, 1945-2003

John Michael Burden, VVA's Arkansas State Council President, died May 7 in Gentry, Arkansas, of cardiac arrest. Mike Burden, as he was known to his friends and family, was born December 29, 1945. He served withe the U.S. Air Force security policy in the Vietnam War and was a life member of Chapter 323 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. A retired high school teacher, Mike also was active in his Methodist church, and coached Little League baseball and football.

Said Tom Corey, " We are saddened by the loss of Mike. He has been a powerful and passionate champion for veterans in Washington and Arkasas for many years and has helped bring about positive change through his tenacious and vocal advocacy. Mike's dedicated service to veterans and Vietnam Veterans of America continued until shortly before his passing. Despite his failing health, he chose to dedicate his final hours of service to veterans, attending the April National Board of Directors and State Council Presidents meeting and further pursuing issues by phone and e-mail. Mike was proud of the students he taught, especially those who went on to military careers. This is another untimely loss for the Arkansas State Council. Mike's memory and dedication to the fight for justice for all veterans will serve as inspiration to thjose of us who remain, both his former students and his fellow veterans."

"There were about 35 or 40 of his students and former students at the funeral," Al Gibson, VVA Missouri State Council President, said, "They said he was just like a second dad to them, in school and out of school."
 

Wallace Terry, 1938-2003
Pioneering Journalist and Vietnam Veterans Advocate

Wallace Terry, 65, one of the most accomplished and honored correspondents who covered the Vietnam War, died May 29 in Fairfax, Virginia. The prize-winning author, journalist, radio and television commentator, producer and public speaker was Saigon deputy bureau chief for Time magazine in 1967-68. His critically acclaimed bestselling book, Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans (1984), was the first book to take an in-depth look at the war and postwar experiences of African Americans who took part in the war.

``Wally Terry was a good friend and a great man. We at VVA had a long, close, and beneficial relationship with him,'' said VVA President Thomas H. Corey. ``He was a pioneering and fearless war correspondent in Vietnam. He was a strong, effective, and persistent advocate for Vietnam veterans. Bloods, which is still in print, stands as, by far, the most illuminating account of the African-American experience in the Vietnam War.''

Terry's other professional accomplishments including writing and narrating Guess Who's Coming Home, the Vietnam War's only documentary recording. He was the creator of the black history TV series, The Family Tree; edited the original treatment for the television series, Eyes on the Prize; and wrote and narrated The Bloods of Nam, which appeared on PBS's Frontline. At the time of his death, Terry was completing work on the screenplay for Bloods and researching a book on the war's effect on the civil rights movement.

Terry's reporting on the Vietnam War and on civil rights appeared in the nation's top newspapers, including The New York Times and Washington Post. A frequent contributor to The VVA Veteran, he also wrote regularly for many years for Parade magazine and USA Today.

``Aside from the top-quality work Wally did for us, I will never forget how he made us feel on a par with the other publications he wrote for,'' said Mokie Porter, editor of The Veteran. ``Whenever one of his articles came out, Wally always asked for a dozen copies, which he proudly sent out to his friends and colleagues. It meant more than I can say that he was a part of our family. His death leaves a real vacuum.''

Among his other work for VVA, Terry was the coordinator for the highly successful 2000 ``Rendezvous With War'' academic conference at the College of William and Mary. That conference brought together a top-flight group of Vietnam War veterans, correspondents, military leaders, and journalists including Gen. Hal Moore, Stanley Karnow, Philip Caputo, Joe Galloway, Peter Arnett, and Sydney Schanberg. They took part in a series of panels held over three days to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the end of the war.

``If it weren't for Wally's hard work and personal connections, that conference never would have taken place, much less have been the great success that it was,'' said Marc Leepson of VVA's Communications Department who worked with Terry on the conference's logistics.

``Every Vietnam veteran owes a debt to Wally Terry,'' Corey added. ``He saw the war first hand and he reported on aspects of the war, including the role of black soldiers, as well as any correspondent. Since the war, he continuously worked as an advocate for Vietnam veterans.''

VVA honored Wallace Terry in 1989 with the President's Award in recognition of his contribution to American culture. ``Wally richly deserved that award,'' Corey said. ``We at Vietnam Veterans of America were fortunate to have worked closely with Wally for many years. We cherish those memories and our deepest condolences go to his wife, Janice, and to their children and grandchildren.''

Andrew J. Bergeron, died April 2 in Boston of cardiac arrest. He was born December 25, 1929. Bergeron served in the U.S. Marine Corps for over 20 years, attaining the rank of Gunnery Sergeant.  He served in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.  He was a member and past president of Vietnam Veterans of America-Leominster Chapter 116.

Lonnie Davidson died recently in Appleton, Wisconsin.  Davidson was a veteran of the Vietnam War.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Plover Chapter 115.

John E. Degraffenreid died recently in Leavenworth, Kansas. He was born February 3, 1950.  Degraffenreid served in the U.S. Army from 1969-71 with service in Vietnam.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Lee's Summit (Missouri).

William Robert Dennis II died suddenly on March 13 in Newell, Iowa, of cardiac arrest. He was born October 22, 1948.  Dennis served in the U.S. Army from 1966-69 with a tour in Vietnam from 1967-68.  He was a charter member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Aurelia Chapter 888.

Robert W. ``Butch'' Drago died March 29 in Yonkers, New York. He was born August 4, 1943. Drago served in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam from 1968-69. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of American-Pleasantville Chapter 49.

Jack O. Frost died March 28 in Heavener, Oklahoma. He was born February 15, 1948. Frost was a veteran of the Vietnam War.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Heavener Chapter 784.

William J. Gaudet died January 2, 2002, in Providence Rhode Island. He was born March 25, 1948. Gaudet served in the U.S. Army and was awarded three Bronze Stars with ``V'' device and the Purple Heart. He was a founding member of Vietnam Veterans of America-James Michael Ray Memorial Chapter 818; president of Vietnam Veterans of America Greater Providence Chapter 273; and a service representative at the Providence VA Regional Office.

Bob Gilbert died recently. He was born May 31, 1929.  Gilbert served in the U.S. Air Force from 1968-69.  He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Angeles City(Philippines) Chapter 887.

Charles Griffin died March 21 in Marion, Ohio.  He was born April 30, 1930. Griffin served in the U.S. Army.  He was a member and served on the board of directors for Vietnam Veterans of America-Harold F. Lyon Memorial (Marion) Chapter 822. He also served as the chapter's first chaplain.

Shawn Hatch died recently in North Canton, Ohio. He was born July 7, 1947. Hatch served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.  He was an at-large life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Ohio.

Albert S. Hill died March 9 in Leominster, Massachusetts, after a brief illness. He was born March 16, 1923. Hill was a veteran of World War II, serving in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific on the USS George E. Davis. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Leominster Chapter 116.

Ted Kelly died April 8, 2003, in Providence, Rhode Island. He was born January 10, 1947. Kelly was a veteran of the Vietnam War.  He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Providence Chapter 273.

Harry Lamb died February 28 in Newark, Ohio, of cancer. He was also born in Newark. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Newark Chapter 55.

Johnny Odell McCulloch died September 23, 2002, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He was born July 25, 1948.  McCulloch was a veteran of the Vietnam War and was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Athens Chapter 511.

Vernon L. McLaughlin died March 21, 2001, in Crary, North Dakota, of heart failure. He was born November 30, 1923.  McLaughlin served in the U.S. Army.  He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Webster Chapter 143.

Bruce W. Parker died January 27 in Bridgeton, New Jersey.  He was born October 20, 1947.  Parker served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Mays Landing Chapter 825.

Marvin E. Rice died recently in Elkhart, Indiana. He was born November 23, 1949. Rice was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was an at-large member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Indiana.

William P. Schmeisser died March 14 in Lake Mills, Wisconsin, of a heart attack.  He was born September 21, 1947.  Schmeisser served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Captain in the Vietnam War. He was awarded a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. He was a charter member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Fort Atkinson Chapter 409.  He was also a longtime member of Chapter 409 Scholarship Selection Committee.

Patrick W. ``Boogie'' Sweet died January 19, 2002, in Muskegon, Michigan. He was born November 5, 1950. Sweet served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1968-70 with Force Recon with the First Marine Division in the Vietnam War. He conducted operations in Laos and Cambodia. He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Muskegon Heights Chapter 31.

Frederick L. Thomas died August 5, 2002, in Kansas City, Missouri, of lung and liver cancer.  He was born January 12, 1939, in Kansas City, Kansas. Thomas served in the U.S. Air Force with three years' service in Vietnam in Danang and Cam Ranh Bay.  He retired at the rank of Master Sergeant.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Kansas City Chapter 317.

James E. Waldoch died January 19 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He was a veteran of Vietnam War.  He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Plover Chapter 115.

David B. Arthur died February 17 in Woburn, Massachusetts, of heart failure. He was born March 30, 1944. Arthur served in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Jamestown (New York) Chapter 865.

Charles J. Dinan, Jr., died March 16 in Wildwood, New Jersey, of heart disease and diabetes. He was born December 21, 1947. Dinan served in the U.S. Army with a tour in Vietnam from 1968-69. He received the Purple Heart. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-James ``Pop'' Johnson Memorial Chapter 602.

Kenneth E. Eakins, Sr., 62, died July 7, 2002, in Lowell, Indiana, of cancer. Eakins served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War. He was a member and past President of Vietnam Veterans of America-Merrillville Chapter 285.

Ruth Annie Floyd, 82, died January 19 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Floyd was a member of the Gold Star Mothers and a member of the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America- Chattanooga Chapter 203.

Conard H. Gordon died February 26, 2003, in Philadelphia of squamous cell carcinoma due to exposure to Agent Orange. He was born April 20, 1941. Gordon served in the U.S. Army with a tour in Vietnam from 1968-69. He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-1st Pennsylvania Mobile Historical Unit (Upper Dublin) Chapter 590.

Michael R. Healy died April 14 in Roseburg, Oregon, of a massive heart attack. He was born August 8, 1945. Healy was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was president of Vietnam Veterans of America-Roseburg Chapter 805 and an accredited VVA Veterans Service Representative.

James A. Jones, 52, died March 6 in Cedar Lake, Indiana. Jones served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam. He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Merrillville Chapter 285.

Milton E. Lewis, 68, died March 3, 2002, in Stowe, Pennsylvania, of cancer. Lewis served in the U.S. Army in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, retiring at the rank of Sergeant First Class. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in the Korean War. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Pottstown Chapter 565.

Ray Lewis died recently in Bellingham, Washington. He was born October 11, 1945. Lewis was a veteran of the Vietnam War and a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Chapter 165.

Richard McCarthy died September 26, 1999, in Jackson, New Jersey. McCarthy served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Brick Chapter 200.

Robert R. Moon died April 1 in Black, Missouri. Moon was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Saint Louis Chapter 611.

John Austin Sheedy, Jr., died February 22 in Honolulu of cancer. He was born June 17, 1920. Sheedy served in the U.S. Air Force as a Flight Surgeon and was a physician to President Dwight Eisenhower and Gen. James MacArthur. He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Honolulu Chapter 858.

Dale B. Simmons died September 14, 2002, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, of cancer. He was born September 24, 1941. Simmons served in the U.S. Navy in the Vietnam War and then in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Council Bluffs Chapter 798.

Gerald J. Slack died April 13 in Salem, Massachusetts. He was born July 9, 1926. Slack served in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Stoneham Chapter 837.

Walter J. Stroud died November 1, 2002, in Korea. He was born April 22, 1935. Stroud served in the U.S. Air Force from 1954-80 with a tour in Vietnam. He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Angeles City (Philippines) Chapter 887.

Terry VanLear, 58, died April 25 in Reading, Pennsylvania, of heart failure. VanLear served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam in 1963-67. He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Berks County Chapter 131.

John C. Walter, Jr., 56, died February 3 in Muhlenberg Township, Pennsylvania, of carbon monoxide poisoning in a double suicide. Walter served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Berks County Chapter 131.

Regina Walter, 54, died February 3 in Muhlenberg Township, Pennsylvania, of carbon monoxide poisoning in a double suicide. She was a member of Associates of Vietnam Veterans.

Milton S. Applegate, Jr. died October 2, 2002, in Lake Worth, Florida. He was born November 21, 1923. Applegate was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-West Palm Beach Chapter 25.

Maroun H. Barakat died April 8 in Miami, Florida. He was born January 20, 1960. A veteran of the Lebanese Christian Militia, he was a member of Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America-Texarkana Chapter 278.

James Cormack died April 3 in Ames, Iowa, of cancer. He was born November 1, 1943. Cormack served as the Director for Veterans Affairs in Webster County since 1990. He served on the Fort Dodge City Council from 1981-90. He was a member of Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America-Webster City Chapter 861.

Ronald Eugene Dilley died April 27 in Stratford, Iowa, of cancer. He was born February 25, 1947. Dilley was drafted into the U.S. Army and trained with the 1/50th Mechanized Infantry. In 1967, he was sent to Vietnam with the First Air Cavalry Division. He was wounded in action and returned home in July 1968. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Fort Dodge Chapter 861.

Wiley G. Edwards died recently in Las Animas, Colorado. Edwards was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was an at-large life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Colorado.

George Engelhardt died recently in Baltimore. He was born November 25, 1947. Engelhardt was a veteran of the Vietnam War and a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Baltimore Chapter 451.

Conard H. Gordon died February 26 in Philadelphia of squamous cell carcinoma due to exposure to Agent Orange. He was born April 20, 1941. Gordon served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1968-69. He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-1st Pennsylvania Mobile Historical Unit (Upper Dublin) Chapter 590.

C. S. ``Kurt'' Hafer died May 3 in Houston. He was born July 8, 1948. Hafer served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Houston Chapter 343 and was awarded VVA Member of the Year in 1997.

François Hoang (Lai Xuan) died recently in Des Moines, Iowa. He was born in Vietnam on September 8, 1933. Hoang was a life member of Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America-Des Moines Chapter 490.

Robert J. MacConaghy, 49, died March 13 in Syracuse, New York. MacConaghy was a member of Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America-East Syracuse Chapter 103.

James Allen ``Chip'' Matthews died April 26 in Oakland as the result of an automobile accident. He was born December 19, 1948. Matthews joined the U.S. Marine Corps, served two tours in Vietnam from 1968-70, and was honorably discharged. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Oakland Chapter 893.

Richard McCarthy died September 26, 1999, in Jackson, New Jersey. McCarthy served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Brick Chapter 200.

William Jesse Redding died April 22 in Victoria, Texas, of massive cerebral hemorrhages resulting from hypertension. He was born June 6, 1951. Redding served in the U.S. Army from 1968-72. He served in the artillery in Vietnam from 1069-70 and was awarded the Bronze Star. He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Halletsville Chapter 854.

Marvin E. Rider died February 25 in Wichita, Kansas. He was born on June 1, 1922. Rider enlisted in the Army Air Corps in October 1942. He was discharged in September 1945 and was recalled in 1950 for service in Korea. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Ponca City Chapter 750.

Thomas J. Silvestro died April 25 in Somers Point, New Jersey. He was born December 28, 1914. Silvestro served in the U.S. Army as a demolitions expert and retired in 1965 at the rank of Chief Warrant Officer. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Mays Landing Chapter 825.

William F. Sparks died April 30 in Richmond, Indiana, of a heart attack. He was born on November 13, 1925. Sparks served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was a life member of Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America-Richmond Chapter 777.

John Benjamin Stagg, Jr., died March 1 in Ville Platte, Louisiana, of cancer. He was born February 22, 1940. Stagg was a veteran of the Vietnam War and a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Ville Platte Chapter 632.

William L. Vines died August 16, 2002, in Washington, D.C. Vines was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was an at-large member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Maryland.

George ``Wegasapi'' White Eagle died March 19 in Wichita, Kansas. He was born December 18, 1927. White Eagle enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1957 where he served in the 45th Division of the National Guard during the Korean War and later fought in the Vietnam War as part of the U.S. Army. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Ponca City Chapter 750.

Francis Merrill Willet III died April 22 in Ocean City, New Jersey, of cancer. He was born July 21, 1947. Willett served in the U.S. Army from 1967-69. In Vietnam, he was assigned to the 9th Infantry Division. He received the Bronze Star. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Mays Landing Chapter 825.

Roland Lee Willis died April 12 in Cumberland, Maryland, of heart failure. He was born September 12, 1949. Willis served in the U.S. Army from 1969-72 with service in Vietnam from 1971-72. He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America-Cumberland Chapter 172.

   

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