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july/august 2007

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Delaware County, Pennsylvania, Chapter 67 had an extremely active Memorial Day weekend. The Chapter Honor Guard marched in the Marcus Hook Memorial Day Parade on Saturday, May 26, after which the chapter held its annual memorial service at the Delaware County Vietnam Veterans Memorial. On Memorial Day itself, Monday, May 28, the chapter took part in the parade in Media, after which members went to Havertown for ceremonies at the Veterans Park.

Kentuckiana Chapter 454 in Louisville also had a busy Memorial Day. The chapter held its 15th annual Memorial Day Service on Sunday, May 27, on the grounds of the chapter’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, known as “The Final LZ,” which is located in Highland Memory Gardens in Mt. Washington. The service this year honored American veterans of all wars, along with Gold Star Mothers. The next day, Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, the chapter Color Guard took part in the ceremonies at the striking Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort.

Also on Memorial Day: VVA National President John Rowan was a featured speaker at the annual Memorial Day Observance at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. The Dean K. Phillips Memorial Chapter 227 in Northern Virginia that day held its annual wreath-laying ceremony at the apex of the The Wall where a memorial service was conducted. Earlier in the day, the Chapter Color Guard carried VVA’s colors at the official Memorial Day Ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. The Color Guard was the last group in the line of march and “lagged behind about fifteen paces,” said chapter member Bill Dumsick. “So everyone saw our colors as if we were alone.”

Silver Spring, Maryland, Chapter 641 was honored by The Stephen Watts Kearny Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution with a community service award on June 30 for its “consistent volunteers” who take part in the washing of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the first Saturday of the month from April through November. The award was presented at The Wall.

National Board Member Jerry Klein, who also is the president of the Florida State Council, was among those on hand in May to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Chapter 23. The outdoor event included a display of the chapter’s Michael Savenelli Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall of Broward County, a replica of the Washington, D.C., Vietnam Veterans Memorial that chapter members, led by Michael Savenelli,

Georgia State Council President Allen B. Harvey officially represented VVA at the National Hot Rod Association Southern Nationals in Atlanta in May. The reception he and other VVA members received by champion driver Melanie Troxel and the whole team that races for Evan Knoll “went far beyond expectations,” Harvey said. “We were free to go behind the bar to meet the crew in the pit and to ask questions of anyone we wanted to.” Harvey presented Troxel (whose dragster is adorned with the VVA logo) a VVA national flag. “It’s amazing to see this team and dragster with its VVA and National League of Families logos displayed for all to see,” he said, “and be reminded that ‘freedom isn’t free’ and that we must remember our missing brothers from all wars.”

Orange, Texas, Chapter 348 displayed its Ronald E. Ray War Museum May 3-6 at the American Veterans Traveling Tribute replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Vinton, Louisiana.

Schulenburg, Texas, Chapter 870 and the Chapter’s AVVA members sponsored the first memorial ceremony held in the Lone Star State of the Chapel of Four Chaplains on February 3 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in High Hill. World War II and Vietnam War veterans were inducted into the Legion of Honor. WWII veterans also received certificates recognizing their service in the U.S. armed forces. Longtime Chapel Trustee and VVA member Paul Sutton spoke at the ceremonies, which also presented awards to VVA members from Denton, Texas, Chapter 920 and Kerrville Chapter 863.

Chapter 870 also sponsored the sixth annual Lighted Christmas Parade last December in downtown Schulenburg. The festive event included a visit from Santa Claus, aka chapter member Bob Baker. This spring, Baker added another charitable character to his repertoire—the Easter Bunny.

Members of Porter County Chapter 905 in Portage, Indiana, attended the April 15 dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new Vet Center at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis. The Keynote Speaker was Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient Sammie Davis, a member of Indianapolis Chapter 295. In addition to its other functions, the Vet Center will host Indiana VVA and AVVA State Council meetings. In fact, the first meeting followed the dedication ceremonies.

Racine/Kenosha, Wisconsin, Chapter 767 presented a check for $2,500 to the Racine County Food Bank earlier this year. The funds came from the proceeds of the chapter’s annual Pasty Day Sale, along with individual contributions. The check was presented to Chapter member Dan Taivalkowski, the Food Bank’s managing director. The chapter’s president, Ron Turner, was honored by the Racine County Volunteer Center as Volunteer of the Year for his work with veterans.

The South Utah Chapter 961 Honor Guard, which was formed just a year ago, has participated in many graveside services for local Vietnam veterans, both in conjunction with other veterans’ groups and on its own. The honor guard has taken part in services throughout the 2,400 square miles of Washington County, located in the extreme southwestern part of the state. “We have all enjoyed our service for our brothers and their families at these difficult times,” said Chapter member Ron Willard. “We are proud to be there for our country and for VVA Chapter 961.”

Members of Washtenaw County, Michigan, Chapter 310 made their annual spring visits to local schools to talk about the Vietnam War in May and June. The opening event took place when Chapter President Pete Belaire, Dave Hizer, John Kinzinger, Vance McCrumb, Del Mayes, Bill Feight, and Don Behm spoke to students at Belleville High School. The group then went to Symon Elementary in Milan, Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, and Chelsea High School.

Corvalis, Montana, Chapter 938 has been a big supporter of the Valley Veterans Service Center, which opened last year in downtown Hamilton to provide a wide range of services for veterans who live in Ravalli County. The center is completely staffed by volunteers, many of whom are Vietnam veterans, including Marvin Edstedt, a VVA-certified Veterans Service Representative. Edstedt volunteers as much as 40 hours a week, working for veterans’ VA claims.

Tupelo, Mississippi, Chapter 842 has been instrumental in helping local veteran Jeff Wright, who served in Iraq with the Army National Guard’s 155th Armored Brigade, wade through the military and VA bureaucracy and receive the disability and health-care help he earned after being seriously wounded by a mortar round in Iraq in October 2005. VVA “has come through for me,” Wright said. “I would recommend it to anybody who has any problems with any injury they had while in combat. They’ve given me 110 percent, and I know they can help others as well.” Added Chapter President Rex Moody: “The whole purpose of this organization is to help other veterans.”

Texarkana, Texas, Chapter 278 hosted a Support the Troops Rally on Saturday, May 12, at the Korea-Vietnam Memorial in Texarkana. The chapter emphasized that the rally was not antiwar or pro-war, but “pro troops,” in keeping with VVA’s founding principle, “Never Again Will One Generation of Veterans Abandon Another.” The Chapter also played a leading role in the Veterans Information Fair on May 19, which included representatives from the VA, the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Veterans Land Board, the Shreveport, La., Vet Center, the American Red Cross, as well as Veterans Service Officers.

Pasadena, California, Chapter 446 works in many arenas on behalf of the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. Members have showed up to offer condolences at funerals of fallen soldiers, helped arranged welcome-home ceremonies, and widely distributed information on VA benefits. On Memorial Day, Chapter Former President Steve Malmberg helped unveil the Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial at the military memorial plaza adjacent to Glendale City Hall. Roses were placed on the memorial and the names of the seven Glendale service personnel who perished in Iraq and Afghanistan were read aloud.

“Frenchy” Evans, a member of Quad Cities Chapter 299 in Rock Island, Illinois, makes regular visits with other chapter members to the Iowa City, Iowa, VA Medical Center. Evans and his fellow chapter members visit hospitalized veterans, bringing them snacks, fruit, gifts, and the brand-new Chapter 299 pin. The Chapter funds the visits through the proceeds of its bingo game nights.

Rochester, New York, Chapter 20 collects items at every general membership meeting to box and send to our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The items—including soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shaving cream, deodorant, DVDs, and snack items—go to a long list of active-duty personnel recommended by chapter members. Bergen County, New Jersey, Chapter 800 in East Rutherford held a ward party on January 11 for the patients and staff in the PTSD group at the VA New Jersey Health Care System Medical Center in East Orange.

Many members of Rockford, Illinois, Chapter 983 were on hand Saturday, May 5, at Chicago/Rockford International Airport to greet 104 sailors on their way from a seven-month tour of duty in Kuwait to their home bases in San Diego. Chapter members provided the Navy men and women with snacks, coffee, and the use of mobile phones. “We didn’t get a welcome home from Vietnam,” said Chapter President Mark Lawrence, explaining to a local newspaper why the chapter came out in force to support the troops.

Western New York Chapter 77 in Tonawanda received more than 90 applications from high school students for its SFC Peter Tycz Memorial Scholarship program this year. The chapter awarded $6,000 in scholarships to 24 seniors from Erie and Niagara Counties. In the last two years, the chapter has awarded $9,000 in scholarships honoring the memory of Peter Tycz, who was killed in action during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Appleton Area Chapter 351 in Appleton, Wisconsin presented $1,000 scholarships to three high school seniors in May. This year’s recipients were Diane M. O’Brien of Appleton Xavier High School, Jared R. Stroik of Neenah High School, and Melanie L. Schroth of Shiocton High School.

Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, Chapter 101 recently donated $500 to the Highground Veterans Memorial Park in Neilsville. The park contains memorials that honor Vietnam War, World War II, World War I, and women veterans, and a soon-to-be-dedicated Korean War memorial.

Members of Central Minnesota Chapter 290 in St. Cloud, including Chapter President Jim Bestick and John “Doc” Smith, stood at attention on April 4 as the American flag and the flag of the former Republic of Vietnam were raised for the first time at the Central Minnesota Vietnam War Memorial in downtown
St. Cloud. The Chapter and the St. Cloud Vietnamese community were the moving forces in the creation of the black granite memorial, which features a statue of an American and a South Vietnamese soldier. Chapter members joined Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis for the parade and ceremonies marking the memorial’s official dedication on June 2. The memorial also includes the Minnesota POW/MIA Walk of Honor.

Sacramento Valley Chapter 500 sponsored its seventh annual Reading of the Names at the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Capital Park on Sunday, May 27, during the Memorial Day Weekend. Beginning at 7:00 in the morning, all of the nearly 5,800 names engraved on the memorial were read.

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