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

January/February 2006
MEMBERSHIP NOTES
 



IN SERVICE TO AMERICA

VVA Board Member Al Gibson, a member of Chapter 393 in Jefferson City, Missouri, spoke at the November 4 dedication and memorial service ceremonies for the Vietnam Traveling Wall at the Welk Resort in Branson, Missouri. The event kicked off a week-long Veterans Homecoming commemoration in Branson. The Color Guard from Branson, Missouri, Chapter 913 participated in the event, which featured the singing of the National Anthem by the Lennon Sisters and “America the Beautiful” by the Gatlin Brothers.

New York City Chapter 126, as it has done since its inception, played a prominent role in the city’s big 2005 Fifth Avenue Veterans Day parade sponsored by the United War Veterans Council. The chapter created a float that helped commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, the theme of the event. “We also honored all veterans, particularly those who are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Chapter President Joe Graham.

Anita Clark, AVVA representative of Chapter 913, and her husband started a program at Reeds Spring Intermediate School, in which students wrote essays on the theme of honoring veterans. Local businesses, including Silver Dollar City, IMAX Theater, and the Veterans Museum donated prizes to the winning essay writers. The plan is to expand the program next year to all area schools.

The Sumner County, Tennessee, Chapter 240 Color Guard Bruce Parr, Gary Anderson, Tom Hall, Jerry Kimbro, Jim Richards, and alternate Wayne Chumley presented the colors at the Tennessee Titans-Tampa Bay Buccaneers pre-season NFL game August 12 at the 67,000-seat Coliseum in Nashville.

Robert E. Wheelock Memorial Chapter 327 in Stanhope, New Jersey, was honored with a breakfast at the Sam’s Club in Mt. Olive November 10 as a civic organization that has made a difference in the community. Sam’s Club donated $250 to the chapter. Mt. Olive’s mayor, who was in attendance, donated his $275 fee to the chapter.

Two buses took 230 members of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Chapter 203 and their families to the Nation’s Capital for the 2005 Veterans Day ceremonies at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. On Veterans Day the chapter Honor Guard back home presented the colors at ceremonies at the Chattanooga National Cemetery. 

St. Paul, Minnesota, Chapter 320 member Jimmie Lee Coulthard received the annual David W. Preus Leadership Award October 10 from the Luther Seminary in St. Paul. The award honors the contributions to civic and religious life by the Rev. Dr. David W. Preus, the former Bishop Emeritus of the Lutheran Church who served as a  paratrooper in World War II. The award recognizes outstanding leadership that expresses itself in service to others. Coulthard is the president and CEO of the Minnesota Council for Veterans, which helps veterans who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless find transitional and permanent housing.

David Woods, Jett Bork, Greg Paulline, Terry Berg, Mike Melroy, and Larry Axtell, members of the Rock Island, Illinois, Chapter 299 Honor Guard, along with Iowa State Council President Ed Gaudet, took part in Veterans Day ceremonies at the rededication of the Bettendorf Veterans Memorial. The 299 Honor Guard then  marched with the Bettendorf, Iowa, Gateway Chapter 776 Honor Guard in the largest Veterans Day parade in recent memory in nearby downtown Davenport, Iowa.

Porter County Chapter 905 in Portage, Indiana, co-hosted an early Christmas party December 3 at the Indiana Veterans Home in Lafayette. Some fifty residents of the home are chapter members. The chapter also made a financial contribution to the home and members donated clothing and food items. Chapter member John Rilea took part in the November 6 ceremonies at the Chesterton Vietnam Memorial Wall by ringing a bell each time a name was read from a list of Indiana residents still listed as MIA from the Vietnam War.

Members of Cumberland, Maryland, Chapter 172 went to area schools on Veterans Day to show the colors and to talk to students about veterans’ issues, the Vietnam War, and the meaning of Veterans Day. Eight members spoke at Braddock Middle School, and honor guards took part in ceremonies at Cash Valley School, the John Humbird School, and the Washington Street Library.

Anniston, Alabama, Chapter 502 member Virgil Bright was honored with the Veteran of the Year Award on Veterans Day in ceremonies in Birmingham, Alabama. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, the 1st Army Commanding General, presented the award to Bright, a veterans service officer and the chair of the Alabama State Council Veterans Incarcerated Committee. 

St. Peters, Missouri, Chapter 458 won its fifth People’s Choice Award at the Missouri State Chili Cookoff in September. Team members, led by Chapter President Sheldon Hartsfield, cooked 50 gallons of chili at the cookoff, which benefits the National Kidney Foundation. The chapter also received an award from the Kidney Foundation for being the No. 1 fund-raiser at the 2004 competition. The money came from contributions solicited by chapter members from local businesses.

Roger Ware, a member of Elkins, West Virginia, Chapter 812, served as an escort for Gold Star Mother Alesia Jiminez of Belington, West Virginia, at the Mountain State Forest Festival’s Grand Feature Parade in October in Elkins. Her son, Marine Corps Cpl. R.J. Jiminez, was killed in Iraq in 2004. Ware is commandant of the  Marine Corps League Detachment in Elkins.

Members of Suffolk County, New York, Chapter 11 have made several appearances at local colleges and universities recently, speaking to students about the Vietnam War. That included an October visit to the State University of New York at Stoney Brook as part of a program featuring author Tim O’Brien. The former infantryman read passages from The Things They Carried, after which chapter members discussed their war experiences. In November, chapter members went to St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue and to SUNY Farmingdale, where they spoke to students. 

Rushville, Indiana, Chapter 889 organized a donation during the holiday season to the annual local Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys For Tots campaign, which collects new unwrapped toys and distributes them as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community.

For the second consecutive year, AVVA members of Lower Cape Fear Chapter 885 in Wilmington, North Carolina, decorated a Christmas tree and gave it to the Cape Fear Hospice Center as part of its Festival of Trees display in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel. The trees were then sold to local businesses, and the funds went to the hospice.

Members of Liberty Bell Chapter 266 in Philadelphia collected 37 boxes of food in the chapter’s annual Thanksgiving food drive. Each box included a $20 gift certificate for Acme or Thriftway supermarkets. The donated food was used to help feed veterans and needy families.

Westfield, New Jersery, Chapter 688 sponsored a Halloween dance party in October at the Kenilworth Veteran Center. Costumes were optional, and prizes were given in different categories.

Members of New City, New York, Chapter 333 joined forces with the Salvation Army to prepare Thanksgiving meals for 165 needy members of the community. Members collected food, peeled potatoes, helped carve turkeys, and set up tables and chairs for the event. In December chapter members played Santa to 146 needy children at the Rainbow Connection Daycare Center in Nanuet and the village of Haverstraw, working again with the Salvation Army, as well as with the Rockland County Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots chapter.

Western Massachusetts Chapter 111 held welcome-home celebrations for two relatives of chapter members who returned home safely after completing their tours of duty in Iraq. Honored were U.S. Marine Mike Kunze, the nephew of chapter members Josh and Betty Morin and Jim and Judy Frenette, and Army National Guard member Sarah Kane, the granddaughter of chapter member Bob Duffney and the niece of Larry White.

Several members of Westchester County, New York, Chapter 49 spoke to cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in November. Addressing the cadets on the topic of what makes a good combat officer were Jim McCauley, Fred Hillmann, Ray DelAssandro, and Dan Griffin.

Frank D’Alonzo, a three-time past president of South Jersey Chapter 228 and the former secretary of the New Jersey State Council, in December received a presidential appointment to the Selective Service System Board. He will serve an indefinite term on the board, which is responsible for the administration of the Selective Service System regulations in times of war or national emergencies that would require the re-institution of the military draft.

VVA welcomes its newest chapter, Chapter 965 in Edgemere, Maryland. Chapter President Ronald Parent received the official VVA charter September 29 from Maryland State Council President Richard Marcinik. 

Members of LZ Memphis Chapter 875 in Memphis, Tennessee, including Chapter President Ed Stutler, Chapter Secretary Gary Newport, and Chapter Treasurer Bill Flanigan, made their annual December visit to the Memphis VA Medical Center to bring Christmas cheer to patients.

AVVA member Louise Schmidt of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, Chapter 590 presented cash and clothing last fall to the residents of the Mary E. Walker House, a homeless women veterans transitional program at the Coatesville VA Medical Center. The donations came from the Pennsylvania AVVA Project Friendship. 

SCHOLARSHIPS

The Florida State Council awarded three $500 scholarships to college students last June in the Terry Kadysczewski Scholarship Program. The recipients: John Gunter IV of Melbourne, Lacy Smith of Dunedin, and Monica Cerro of Clearwater. 

Gold Star Mother Helen Hill and Leominster, Massachusetts, Chapter 116 presented seven scholarships to college students who are sons and daughters of chapter members at ceremonies held recently at the Vietnam Memorial located at the town’s historic Monument Square. The recipients, who were honored for their commitment to their studies, the community, and veterans were: Ashley Arpano, Nichole Lombard, Jocelyn Pierce, Emily Joseph, Andrew Koral, James Salvi, and Sam Joseph.

San Jancinto Chapter 343 in Houston held its 16th annual Veterans Day Benefit Barbeque in November at Bear Creek Park. Proceeds from the event, which also includes musical entertainment, door prizes, and a piñata for children, support the chapter’s Robert F. Connally, Capt. USN, Ret. Scholarship Program.

Tonawanda, New York, Chapter 77 awarded scholarships totaling $3,000 in September to 12 Western New York high school seniors through the chapter’s Peter P. Tycz II Memorial Scholarship, which honors the memory of the U.S. Army Special Forces SFC who died in the line of duty in Afghanistan in 2002.

POW/MIA

Texarkana, Texas, Chapter 278 held its 18th annual POW/MIA Vigil September 2 and 3 at the Korean/Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The vigil lasted 1,854 minutes (just under 31 hours), one minute for each of 1,822 Americans still listed as missing from the Vietnam War, for each of the 28 Americans whose names are inscribed on the memorial who are unaccounted for from the Korean War, and for the three Americans listed as missing from the Persian Gulf War and the one American  unaccounted for in the current war in Iraq. Members collected $740 in donations at the vigil for the Red Cross to use for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

MEMORIALS

William R. Deloria, a member of Escanaba, Michigan, Chapter 345, who suffers from serious Agent-Orange-related disabilities, built a 96-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in his backyard off Highway 41 in Stephenson, Michigan. Deloria completed the project soon after the Memorial was dedicated in Washington in 1982 and has plans to build a large POW/MIA memorial in his backyard this summer. 

Members of Chicago/Northwest Suburban Chapter 311 and Chicago Chapter 242 and the Chapter Color Guard took part in the main ceremonies on Veterans Day at the rededication of the Chicago Vietnam Veterans Memorial along the Chicago River on Wacker Drive between State Street and Wabash Avenue. The new memorial replaces a smaller predecessor that was dismantled in 2001 when Wacker Drive was widened. It honors some 2,900 Illinois natives who died or remain  missing in the Vietnam War. The names of Medal of Honor recipients from the state also are engraved on the memorial, as are those who have died since the war from their wounds and from Agent-Orange-related diseases.

In what has become a holiday tradition, North Jersey Chapter 151 in Bayonne, New Jersey, held its annual Christmas Eve candle-lighting ceremony at the Bayonne Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The ceremonies honored the 30 sons of Bayonne who perished in the Vietnam War and whose names are engraved on the memorial. 
 


 

   

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