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september/october 2007

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / President's Message / Government Affairs / Membership Affairs / Veterans Benefit Update / Arts Of War / Book Review / Ask The Parliamentarian / AVVA / Springfield Convention / Election Committee / ETABO / Fellowship Awards / Homeless Veterans Report / Letters / The Locator / Membership Notes / Minority Affairs / Parade / POW-MIA Report / PTSD Report / Public Affairs / Convention Resolutions / Reunions / Scholarship Committee / TAPS / VVAF / Women Veterans / Dine & Dance / Art Cornucopia / Honoring The Next Generation / Rack 'Em Up

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New City, New York, Chapter 333 celebrated its 20th anniversary June 2 with a fund-raising barbeque that drew more than 300 people, including New York State Council President Ned Foote and Vice President Grant Coates. The proceeds of $8,000 were donated to care for three-year-old Olivia Taylor, the niece of chapter Past President Buddy Gibson. The child suffers from a rare progressive brain disorder. Chapter members commemorated Memorial Day with Watchfires at four locations in Rockford County. In May, Chapter 333 Life Member “Doc” Bernie Duff presented his painting, “Welcome Home,” commemorating Operation Baby Lift, to the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Steve Ford, the President’s son, was on hand to accept the painting as were Phil Wise, a survivor of the C5A that crashed while taking off from Saigon, and Tia Keevil, one of the many orphans who escaped.

Western New York Chapter 77 in Tonawanda sponsored the Buffalo/
Niagara to Baghdad Concert on June 15. The sold-out fund-raiser was held at the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel Events Center in Niagara Falls, New York, and featured performances by the Marine Band and the USO Troupe from New York City, as well as an appearance by Steve Schirippa, who played Bobby on The Sopranos. The following day, Chapter 77 held an open house at the chapter’s Vietnam War Museum, which contains an extensive collection of pictures, artifacts, and documentary films on the Vietnam War. The open house also included a display of the art work of chapter member Ralph Sirianni.

Broward County Chapter 23 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, held its second annual Fourth of July Barbeque at the Alexander “Sandy” Nininger State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Pembroke Pines. “Our words cannot express our feelings,” Recreation Therapy Supervisor Oscar Correale wrote to Chapter President Connie Christensen after the event. “We thank you and all involved in giving us one of the best times for the residents, veterans, family, and staff. The food was out of this world. And thanks to the deejay who filled the room with great music and set the tone with memories, the sing-along, and dancing.”

Delaware County, Pennsylvania, Chapter 67 once again played a major role in the Philadelphia Stand Down, which was held September 7-9 at the National Guard Armory. Chapter members went to work on The Stand Down, the largest such homeless veterans event in the nation, on September 4, and worked for six straight days, concentrating on twenty-four hour security.

Richard “Wheels” Swoszowski, the President of Michael K. Wathke Chapter 761 in Orlando, Florida, received the President’s Volunteer Service Award, the highest national honor offered in recognition of volunteer service, in June from Florida’s Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, at the Florida State Council meeting in Orlando.

Grafton, Ohio, Correctional Institution Chapter 559 in June donated $500 to
the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation in Independence, Ohio, and $200 to Cuyahoga Falls Chapter 34.

A float, dubbed “America Supports You,” put together by Lawton, Oklahoma, Chapter 751 took first prize in its category at the Armed Forces Day Parade, the nation’s largest, in Lawton and Fort Sill. The red, white, and blue float consisted of two large hands with a flag motif and it carried uniformed veterans of the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, and the current war in Iraq. The veterans were saluted by a freestanding Uncle Sam. The float also featured a huge Vietnam Service Ribbon. The chapter’s bagpiper and members marched in front of the float. Shouts of “Welcome Home” greeted them the entire length of the parade.

Region 4 Director Carol Schetrompf, a member of Hinesville, Georgia, Chapter 789, coordinated a fund-raising effort in June to purchase aid-and-comfort items for firefighters who had been working for months on the Florida-Georgia border. The VVA Disaster Relief Task Force contributed $750, the Chapter sent $250, and Schetrompf purchased the supplies and took them to the official drop-off point run by Daylight Ministries in Blackshear, Georgia.

Yauco, Puerto Rico, Chapter 483 organized the first Memorial Day Parade in Yauco this year. “This activity,” Chapter President José R. Valentin says, “is to become an annual event, thanks to Vietnam veterans.”

Greater Hartford, Connecticut, Chapter 120 President Paul Barry, Jr., was nominated in June by the Mayor of East Hartford to become a member of the newly established East Hartford Veterans’ Affairs Commission. The Chapter also donated $500 to the Connecticut Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which is located in Hartford, and pledged to match individual members’ donations of up to $50.

Charlie Becker, Todd Cavan, and John “Bootsy” Shreffler, members of Philadelphia Chapter 590, received awards for patriotism and service at a recent ceremony honoring Vietnam War veterans from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The event was sponsored by State Sen. John C. Rafferty, Jr., and was held at Spring Ford Senior High School in Royerford. Each awardee received a gold medallion, flag pin, and certificate of recognition.

Several members of Nassau County, New York, Chapter 82 have been honored for their community-service accomplishments in recent months. Veterans Service Officer Frank Tobani was awarded the Town of Hempstead Veteran’s Medal; Chapter Treasurer Connie Steers received the Town of Oyster Bay’s Veteran’s Lifetime Achievement Award; Chapter AVVA Liaison Cheri Steers received Oyster Bay’s Veteran’s Non-Veteran Volunteer of the Year Award, along with the 2007 AVVA Member of the Year Award. Chapter Treasurer Walter Schmidt was named liaison with the Veterans of Modern Warfare, Nassau County, and is helping organize a local VMW chapter.

Santa Rosa, California, Chapter 223 runs a Homeless Outreach program at the Redwood Gospel Mission, which provides emergency subsistence services, long-term recovery services, and educational efforts to the homeless in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. Members Richard and Pat Jones and Rod Sidbeck lead the effort, showing up to work at the mission just about every Sunday.

Texarkana Area Chapter 278 in Texarkana, Texas, held its 20th annual POW/MIA Vigil on August 31 and September 1 at the city’s Korea/Vietnam Memorial. The event included opening, candlelight, and closing ceremonies, a POW meal, a “Ride to Remember,” and a balloon release.

Members of Genesee County, Michigan, Chapter 175, including Don Dale, Larry Edwards, Ed Nelson, Gary and Marilyn Huber, Del and Debbie Irwin, Joe Mishler, and Don Lada, helped out at the formal dedication ceremonies June 3 of the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan. VA Secretary Jim Nicholson was among the dignitaries on hand for ceremonies at the 544-acre cemetery, which has been accepting burials since October of 2005.

Columbia, South Carolina, Chapter 303 sponsored a cookout for the homeless veterans and staff who live at the Alston Wilkes Veterans Home in June. Chapter members Darrel Smith, Paul Ruh, Russ Allen, Jim Testor, and Frank Weick provided much-needed support for the event.

Thomas Burford, a member of Marin County, California, Chapter 547 created Operation Triple H (Helping our Heroes from Home) in 2003, an effort that has shipped more than a ton of care packages to the R&R Center in Qatar, which supports American military personnel who visit the facility to take a break from their duties in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has received much-needed logistical help from the Marin Rod and Gun Club and American Storage, which has donated a giant container to facilitate the processing of materials sent to the troops.

Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Chapter 862 co-sponsored, with the Chippewa United Methodist Church, a Support Our Troops Rally on June 30 in Beaver. Participants were encouraged to bring donations for care packages to American troops serving overseas.

The Florida State Council awarded four $500 scholarships at the quarterly State Council Meeting in June in Orlando. The recipients, all of whom are students at four-year colleges, community colleges, or trade schools with at least a 2.5 grade-point average, are: Caitlin Lehr of Tampa, Renee M. Kamauf of Fort Myers, Damin Bradley of Lawrenceville, Georgia, and Susan Gaidosh of Clearwater.

Dean K. Phillips Memorial Chapter 227 in Northern Virginia donated $1,000 to the Arlington County Public Schools High Intensity Language Program in May. The money will fund scholarships that help newly arrived immigrant students attend summer school to continue their assimilation into mainstream America. The chapter also presented its 11th Vince Kaspar Awards for Excellence in the Arts in May. A total of 64 high school students entered their art and poetry. The winners were Si Si Li of McLean High School, Morgan Fletcher of W.T. Woodson, Nejla Izadi of Chantilly High School, and Jennifer Tran of Washington Lee High School for poetry, and Adriane Lea Champagne of McLean, Ellen Falci of Herndon High School, Nicholas Taylor of Fairfax High School, and Si Si Li for art. “These two successful programs greatly enhance the Vietnam veteran image in the community,” said Chapter Past President Len Ignatowski, “especially among our youth whose major exposure to our Vietnam Tour of Duty is Rambo.”

Racine/Kenosha, Wisconsin, Chapter 767 presented $500 scholarships in June to Michael Welch of Racine and Kortnie Edenhofer of Kenosha. The chapter awards scholarships yearly to seniors from the two cities who write an essay after interviewing a Vietnam veteran and explaining how that interview influenced their understanding of the Vietnam War. Essays are judged on originality, composition, and content.

Leominster, Massachusetts, Chapter 116 presented scholarships to sons and daughters of chapter members and other students who demonstrated a commitment to the community and to veterans on July 10 at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Leominster. The chapter has awarded more than $50,000 in the eighteen years the scholarship program has been in existence. This year’s winners: Jeffrey R. Jollymore (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Emily Joseph (College of Holy Cross), Matthew Ellam (University of Notre Dame), Jocelyn Pierce (Otterbein College), Michael Hazzard (Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts), and Loren Leblanc (Legacy Scholarship, Leominster High School).

Kettle Moraine Chapter 448 in Newburg, Wisconsin, awarded scholarships based on essay writing to two high school seniors, Timothy Gorichanz and Courtney Marks. Gorinchanz wrote about the military experiences of his father and Marks about her grandfather.

Rochester, New York, Chapter 20 was instrumental in having a stretch of Wilder Road in Parma dedicated in memory of Monroe County residents who died in the Vietnam War. Chapter members, including President Ken Moore, were on hand for the official dedication last March. “Monroe County is grateful for the sacrifices that our veterans have made, and continue to make, in the name of freedom and democracy,” County Executive Maggie Brooks said at the dedication. “I want to thank County Legislator [Richard] Yolevich, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 20, and the County Department of Transportation for spearheading this effort.” Two signs were placed on the road honoring the three Parma men who perished in the war: David Lemcke, Gerry Wilson, and John Waugh.

Pat Livingston, a member of Fort Madison, Iowa, Chapter 947, was the driving force behind the new Veterans Memorial that was dedicated in May in the small town of La Grange, Missouri, a few miles south of the Iowa border. At the dedication ceremonies on May 19, the town’s 175th birthday, chapter members arrived from Fort Madison to take part in the ceremonies, during which the names of La Grange’s 216 deceased veterans were read.

VVA National President John Rowan was among those on hand on June 9 at a kick-off ceremony for the planned Queens, New York, Vietnam War Memorial, which will be built in a future park near the border of the towns of Elmhurst and Maspeth. Queens Chapter 32 has been working hard to build the memorial, and the Chapter Honor Guard—Ken Trautman, Bruce Hadley, Harold Leong, Pete Garon, Steve Smith, Ed Vacalierok, and Paul Narson—and Chapter President Pat Toro also took part in the ceremonies.

Chapter 310 in Washtenaw County, Michigan, which was named VVA Chapter of the Year at the National Convention in July, has spent more than $2,000 in its ongoing maintenance of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Ypsilanti in 2007. Most of the cost has gone toward upkeep of the memorial’s lighting. In addition, chapter members spend from two-to-four-hours a week at the memorial, cutting the grass and doing other landscaping maintenance


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