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March/April 2007

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Thomas B. Insley, Sr., a member of Baltimore Chapter 451, was appointed to a five-year term on the Maryland Veterans Commission, an arm of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs that advises the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on all issues relating to veterans, on November 3 by Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich. Insley also serves as Second Vice President of the Maryland State Council and as the state council’s Government Affairs Chair.

The Eddie Uhlmansick Chapter 10 in Reading, Ohio, distributed $50 gift certificates during the holiday season to needy veterans’ families in the area. The chapter, working with the Vietnam Veterans of Southwest Ohio Foundation, also sent seven boxes of personal supplies to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and distributed $500 from Lebanon Correctional Institution Chapter 492 to local families of Gulf War and Iraq War veterans. The chapter itself helped one family with a $250 contribution.

The Board of Directors of Greater Hartford, Connecticut, Chapter 120 has started a program coordinating the awarding of Connecticut Wartime Service Medals to chapter members who submit an application package to the Board. Veterans who were residents of Connecticut at the time they were called to active duty during the Vietnam War (and other wars in the 20th century), as well as those who live in the state today, are eligible. Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs Commissioner (and longtime VVA member) Linda Schwartz has agreed to award the medals to chapter members during a future membership meeting or special event.

Bozeman, Montana, Chapter 788 provided Thanksgiving turkeys, food certificates, and phone cards to veterans in need in Gallatin and Park Counties in November. In December the chapter donated toys and clothing, along with emergency funds, to needy area veterans.

Western New York Chapter 77 in Tonawanda has been a long-time and generous supporter of the VA Medical Center in Buffalo. Chapter members make regular visits to patients, and the chapter has helped the hospital in many other ways with supplies and equipment. In December alone the chapter donated $4,335 worth of goods and services to the hospital. “Staffers were very appreciative of what Chapter 77 has done for the hospital,” said chapter member Pete Montemurno, who visits the hospital weekly.

Central Wisconsin Chapter 101 in Wisconsin Rapids donated nonperishable goods and $100 to the South Wood Emergency Pantry Shelf in December. The chapter also donated $100 to the Veterans Assistance Project at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King, the PTSD Unit at the Tomah VA Medical Center, and to the local Boys and Girls Club.

Members of Sacramento, California, Chapter 500 took part in the Elk Grove Veterans Day Parade, November 11, and hosted the Sacramento Parade. Following that parade, chapter President Ted Adams received word that the NBA Sacramento Kings wanted three Vietnam veterans to be their guests at their home game the following evening. Adams and chapter members Mike Callison and Hank Davis answered the call. “We were given free parking and free tickets to the game,” Adams said. At the end of the first quarter, the three were escorted onto the court and were introduced as the Kings honored all veterans at the game. “All of Arco came to their feet and cheered,” Adams said. “When we went back to our seats, all the people on the ends of the aisle put their hands out and told all of us, ‘Thank you for your service.’ Sunday, November 12, 2006, is a date we all will remember for a very long time.”

Robert E. Wheelock Chapter 327 in Stanhope, New Jersey, received an award from the PTSD ward of the Lyons VA Medical Center in honor of chapter members’ nine years of regular visits to the patients on the ward. Chapter members visit the PTSD ward on the third Monday of the month to chat with patients, to give them advice on veterans’ benefits, and to provide food donated by local restaurants. The visiting crew includes Mike Noyes, Tom Holden, Chapter President Jake Jacobs, 1st Vice President Steve Carrozzo, Treasurer Mike Rahill, Director Denis Kennedy, and Membership Chair Rick Millman. “We really enjoy seeing and helping our brothers-in-arms,” Carrozzo said.

Members of Westchester County, New York, Chapter 49 hosted a Christmas Party December 10 at the Stress Unit of the FDR Montrose Campus of the VA Hudson Valley Healthcare System, featuring food and fellowship with patients, staff, and former patients. The following week, on December 17, the chapter held a candlelight vigil at the Westchester Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Lansdon Park, which the chapter was instrumental in funding. The vigil was held in honor of the men and women who did not come home from the Vietnam War.

Quad Cities Chapter 299 in Rock Island, Illinois, using the profits from its highly successful November 11 Welcome Home Vets Dance, put together and distributed 40 Thanksgiving baskets to needy area families on November 18 and 40 Christmas baskets on December 9. AVVA Chapter 299 contributed $400 for the operations.

Members of Columbia, South Carolina, Chapter 303, many of whom wore Santa hats, took part in the chapter’s annual Christmas gift event at the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center’s Nursing Home on December 14. Each resident received a Christmas card signed by many chapter members, along with VA canteen coupons and a Christmas decoration. The chapter also presented Christmas cards to the nursing home staff, the Red, White, and Blue team staff, and the volunteer services staff.

PFC Bruce W. Carter Chapter 121 in Coral Gables, Florida, has launched a campaign in conjunction with Georgie Carter, the Gold Star Mother of the chapter’s namesake, to have the Miami VA Medical Center named in honor of her son, who received the Medal of Honor for courage under fire in 1969 in the Vietnam War. The chapter is asking all VVA members, students, teachers, and the general public for support of this worthy effort. Address letters of support to “Whom It May Concern” and send them to Frank Kovac, 11161 S.W. 57 Ave., Miami, FL 33173-1103, and they will be forwarded to the VA.

Members of Suffolk County, New York, Chapter 11 attended a Christmas Party at the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook in December where they helped distribute gifts to the residents. In January, the chapter received a grant from the GEICO Insurance Company that will be used in programs to help veterans. Last Veterans Day, Chapter Vice President Bill Baessler and members Mel Cohen and Ralph Zanchelli received awards from Suffolk County for their community service efforts.

Geno Lenyk, the head of the Speaker’s Committee for Rochester, New York, Chapter 20, had a busy fall. He led three groups of school students from Pittsford-Mendon High School, Holy Cross Middle School, and a group of French exchange students on guided tours of the Greater Rochester Vietnam Veterans Memorial. And he gave presentations to an auditorium full of 7th graders at Red Jacket Middle School and to seniors at Medina High School.

Welcome to VVA’s newest Georgia chapter, Chapter 981 in Baxley. The chapter hit the ground running last year, undertaking many community activities, including a Christmastime fund-raising sale of barbeque ribs.

Northern Virginia Chapter 227 President Len Ignatowski is asking chapter members to place an electric candle in a window of their homes every night to honor American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Let the Stars and Stripes boldly fly during the day and burn the single candle at night to show the world that we stand with our brave soldiers, and remind everyone that the daily sunset does not mark the end of the work day for our troops in harm’s way,” Ignatowski said.

Members of Chapter 616 at the Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio hosted a dinner on November 19 to honor the parents of SSG Matt Maupin of Union Township, Ohio, who has been listed as Missing in Action in the Iraq War after his convoy was attacked and he was taken prisoner April 9, 2004. Members heard from Timothy Epich, the director of the Ohio Governor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs. Among other things, the chapter presented a baseball bat with signatures of veterans from the Mansfield area to the parents.

Fitzgibbon/McMahon Chapter 837 in Stoneham, Massachusetts, is heavily involved with a program known as Helping Our Troops (HOT), which collects and ships a wide array of supplies to local service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. HOT, which is a private, non-profit organization, has three drop-off locations in the area. Chapter members pick up items, transport them to a central packing location, inspect and sort the items, bag them, place them into packing boxes, and deliver them to the post office.

Members of Nassau County, New York, Chapter 82 make regular trips to Washington to visit wounded and sick veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Chapter members offer the recuperating veterans tee shirts, hats, and just plain support for their service to our country. That’s in addition to the monthly visits that chapter members make to the Northport VA Medical Center Hospital, where they share fellowship and present patients with much-needed toiletry

The members of Chapter 862 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, voted at their November meeting to donate $200 to the Veterans of Modern Warfare to help with the formation of a local VMW chapter.

Chapter 979 in Kingsport, Tennessee, which has been extremely active in service to its community since it was founded last June, has adopted the 60 Marines of Lima Company, 3/24 Marine Reserves, of Grey, Tennessee. The chapter sent care packages to the Marines in time for Christmas. Chapter member Ron Herron’s son is serving his second tour with 3/24.

Bluffton, Indiana, Chapter 698 played a leading role in sponsoring a Chili and Hot Dog Lunch for Families and Significant Others of Active Duty Military Personnel in January. “This effort is designed two-fold,” said Chapter Secretary Ralph Garcia, “to uphold the mission of Vietnam Veterans of America, ‘In Service to America,’ and to help empower the families and significant others of active-duty military personnel to help themselves via organizing a support group for them and for their loved ones, especially regarding benefit information and help during emergency situations.”

Washtenaw County, Michigan, Chapter 310 held an extremely successful fund-raising event in January for Cpl. John Lockwood, an area resident who was severely wounded in Iraq. The event, called “Operation Lockwood,” included a well-attended spaghetti dinner, auction, raffle, bake sale, and donations. With donations still coming in, Chapter 310 President Pete Belaire announced in February that the event raised about $55,000 for the Lockwood family. “I am still in awe at how a community wants a chance to support our warriors,” he said.

Members of Chapter 380 of Marquette County in Negaunee, Michigan, played a big role in supporting the recently dedicated Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Iron Mountain, Michigan. The chapter donated funds to help build the memorial, and the chapter Color Guard joined more than 1,000 veterans, active-duty military personnel, dignitaries, and others at the dedication ceremonies on July 1 of last year.

South Bay Chapter 53 in Redondo Beach, California, co-sponsored the Veterans Day Commemoration at the Hermosa Beach Veterans’ Memorial. Chapter member Paul Verner played “Taps” at the ceremonies.

Members of Central Minnesota Chapter 290 in St. Cloud, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in February, were instrumental in the creation of the Central Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Memorial in downtown St. Cloud, which was dedicated on Veterans Day. Chapter members Ron Morton of RA Morton Contracting and Jim Gratke of Northwest Excavation volunteered their services to make sure the memorial was completed on time, and chapter President Jim Bestick worked hard for years to help bring the memorial to fruition. The local Vietnamese community also contributed, raising the funds for the memorial’s black granite stone, which is engraved on both sides with the image of two soldiers holding the flags of the United States and the Republic of Vietnam.

Members and Associates of Oahu, Hawaii, Chapter 858 dedicated a memorial stone made of marble from Marble Mountain near Danang in Vietnam last August at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at Pu’owaina Crater. The words on the stone, in both English and Hawaiian, were taken from the Keynote Speech delivered by chapter member Allen Hoe at the 2005 National Convention in Reno: “We honor those whose Sacrifice gives us the Privilege and the Duty to continue their legacy of Freedom and Liberty.”

Baltimore Chapter 451 recently presented three scholarships: the Thomas Dolan Scholarship to Justin Wilson, who is studying electrical engineering at Lehigh University; and two Katherine Manion Scholarships, to Cassie Hickey, who is studying education at Towson University, and Andre Grice, a student in mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland.

Richard Brummett, a member of Ron Davenport Memorial Chapter 165 in Bellingham, Washington, had more than your usual experience in the Vietnam War. His first tour of duty in 1967-68 was more or less normal: He served as a crewman on medium tanks in two Army armored cavalry squadrons. His second “tour” was anything but normal, because Brummett returned to Vietnam after his discharge as a MACV-accredited civilian photographer and he stayed for almost two years.

“My time as a photographer in Vietnam was discontinuous,” Brummett said. “I went for summer vacation in 1970 between my first two years of college. The following year I flew to London and then went overland to Vietnam by bus and train. Leaving New York in May,

I arrived in Saigon and stayed until the following April.” After being wounded for the second time at Dong Ha during the NVA’s 1972 Easter Offensive, Brummett said, “I decided to call it a war and go home.”

Several years ago one of the photos Brummett took in Vietnam came to the attention of Jim Pace, Chapter 165’s president. “It is one of a series of shots showing soldiers of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade being dropped off at, and walking out of, Firebase Linda in February 1972 in the Rocket Belt west of Danang,” Brummett said of the striking image, which is titled “Grunts in the Wire.” Brummett promptly donated the copyright of the photo to Chapter 165. The chapter has had great success selling poster-sized images of “Grunts in the Wire,” and using the proceeds in a campaign to convince the VA to build a much-needed, community-based outreach clinic in northwest Washington State. For ordering information, write to VVA Chapter 165, P.O. Box 29885, Bellingham, WA 98228-1885, or contact Jim Pace at

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