April 2000/May 2000
A VVA Staff Report
Truman Christopher of CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee, Chapter 203 bet
his buddy Charlie Hobbes that the chapter recruiting drive would end up
like all those in the past. Tru thought they would be lucky to get 10 new
members. Charlie had other ideas. Through sheer determination and
will--and a lot of telephone calls--and a weekend stint at the local mall,
the chapter has gained 56 new members. In a letter to The VVA Veteran,
Christopher says, "All you need is one hard-headed ex-MP with a lot
of dedicated members and supporters, and you can add new members to your
The Irish Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a project that will honor the
service of the Irish-born who served and died in Vietnam with U.S. and
Australian forces. According to project coordinator Declan Hughes, 21
Irishmen have been identified as having died while serving in
Vietnam--seventeen with the U.S. military and four serving under the
Australian flag. In Ireland, the site selection process has begun, and
fund-raising activities are under way. For more information on the Irish
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, contact Hughes via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Moving Wall traveled through the Southeast in early spring with
stops in Charleston, South Carolina; Broward County, Florida; and
Barnwell, South Carolina. James "Gunny" Gregory of Chapter 780
encouraged everyone participate in the experience in Charleston. In
Broward County, The Moving Wall was displayed in conjunction with the
Broward County Veteran Living Museum. Ceremonies included a Salute to
Military Women and a Veterans Recognition Day. Chapter 828 sponsored the
presentation in Barnwell as part of ceremonies marking the 25th
anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.
In Support of Fellow Veterans
Redding, California, Chapter 357 raised $500 for the World War II
Memorial Fund at a fund-raising dinner. The chapter also hosted the Pearl
Harbor Survivors Breakfast.
Chapter 278 in Texarkana, Texas, donated $275 to the World
War II Memorial Fund. The amount represents $1 for each name carved into
the Vietnam tableau of the local Korea/Vietnam Memorial. The chapter is
also hosting a Salute to Korean War Veterans, June 25, the 50th
anniversary of the outbreak of the war.
Liberty Bell Chapter 266 in Philadelphia will participate
with Chapter 38 of Philadelphia and vicinity and the Korean
War Veterans Association at a memorial service on June 25 at the site of a
proposed Korean War Memorial. The memorial will honor more than 600
servicemen from the area who died or saw action during the Korean War.
In March, Chapter 303 in Columbia, South Carolina, joined
with other veterans to break ground for the Korean War Memorial in
Columbia's Memorial Park. The memorial will include a bronze statue
similar to one at the Korean Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Rock River Chapter 236 in Janesville, Wisconsin, has
resolved to honor Korean veterans during the next three years for their
service to our country. Special ceremonies are being planned as part of
In Georgia, the State Legislature passed HR 1029, "A
Resolution commending all Vietnam Era/Vietnam Veterans and their families
and to recognize May 5-7, 2000, as the 25th Observance of the ending of
the Vietnam War."
In February, Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles introduced legislation in
the Alaska legislature to proclaim April 9 of every year Former POW
Recognition Day and the third Friday in September as POW/MIA Recognition
Day. The Governor also supports House Bill 330 and Senate Bill 236, which
would recognize November 9 as Women Veterans Day in recognition of the
increasing number of women choosing military careers.
Phoenix Chapter 726 at the Polk Correctional Institution in
Florida presented its annual Women's History Month Program hosted by
chapter president Terry Faddis. Mary Ellen Harlan of the Hillsborough
Veterans Council was the featured speaker in a program that included an
Army Nurse Corps video and a film by Jack Smith of ABC-TV News.
A healthy Mexican-style lunch was served at Harmony House, a residence
for some 80 working homeless men near downtown Houston. Local VVA
Chapter 343 members Charlie, Andre, and Marsha Riti; Lee McKean; Kelly
and Jessica Peters; and Vince Villasnenor joined with Wolf Biedenfeld,
Steve Blumenthal, Arturo Aguilar, Kurt Hafner, and Carlos and Mario Uresti
to help serve.
The plight of the homeless veteran has been a central theme in the life
former Miss Kentucky-- now Miss America-- Heather Renee French, who speaks
out vigorously for changes in the way America deals with homeless
After the pageant in Atlantic City, Heather Renee French returned home
to Augusta, Kentucky. A homecoming reception was held where Drew
and Judy Vargo were introduced to French and her parents, Diana and
Ronnie, a Purple Heart Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Marine
In February, Miss America visited the White River Junction, Vermont,
VA Hospital where she spoke about homeless veterans and their particular
needs, including VA outreach concerning Hepatitis C and liver disease.
In March, Kentuckiana Chapter 454 joined forces with Miss
America to help veterans fight hepatitis C. Free hepatitis C screening was
offered at the UAW Hall in Louisville.
Tri-Cities Chapter 335 in Kennewick, Washington, and San
Jacinto Chapter 343 in Houston took part in three separate
Stand Down events in early spring. Chapter 335 volunteers worked Walla
Walla, Yakima, and the 8th Tri-Cities Stand Down in Kennewick while
Chapter 343 sent volunteers to Beaumont and Houston and another scheduled
for Galveston in June.
The Vietnamese-American Community of the USA-New England Region, The
American Vietnam Era Veterans of the USA, and the Canadian Vietnam
Veterans of the USA presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to VVA
National Chaplain Father Philip Salois on April 8. The citation reads:
"In Recognition of your Devotion, Integrity, Selflessness, High
Principles, and Hard Work on Behalf of the Vietnam War Veterans."
In January 1968, Air Force Sergeant Ronald Allen Keith earned a Purple
Heart in Vietnam. More than 32 years later, the decoration was presented
to him in a ceremony at the Wisconsin Resource Center. Wisconsin VVA chief
service rep Tom Burkhalter, discovered the oversight while reviewing
Keith's claim. Wisconsin State Council president John Margowski and
National VVA Homeless Veterans Task Force Chair Bob Piaro took part in the
Mobile Riverine Force Association member and General Counsel Larry
"Gunner" Ethridge is the new chair of the American Bar
Association. Ethridge served on the USS Askari in 1969 and 1970.
Reba Fertitta of Vidor, Texas, wrote Richard McMillan, president of Birmingham,
Alabama, Chapter 416 and told him how much the chapter had helped her.
Her husband, Gary, was a Vietnam veteran who lived with PTSD until he died
in 1993. While on the internet, Fertitta found chapter member Frank
Middleton. She was having difficulty locating her husband's military
records. Middleton assisted with that task, and he also took time to
discuss PTSD. Fertitta has been a member since 1998 and considers her life
blessed for the association.
Patrons of the Des Plaines, Illinois, Public Library are the
beneficiaries of a subscription to The VVA Veteran provided by Chapter
311. Brian J. Mulcrone of the chapter says: ...a VVA Veteran
magazine subscription is a way to better inform the public about VVA: our
mission and values; our national and local community-service projects; and
veterans issues." Mulcrone went on, "It is our fondest hope that
this communication aid will better enable the public to make informed
decisions in support of veterans, VVA, and our country." The gift was
presented to the Library Board by chapter president Robert Gilman. The
VVA Veteran will be available in the periodicals section of the
New York Rep. Vito Fosella joined students at PS 42 for a presentation
of "The Vietnam War Experience," an educational program
developed by Thomas J. Tori Chapter 421 in Staten Island.
Gene DiGiacomo, Mike Cocozza, and Tony Lordo have taken on the task of
reviewing and updating the program, now in its sixth year.
Bayshore Chapter 721 charter member and inaugural chapter vice
president Fred Varlese was elected state commander of the Military Order
of the Purple Heart (MOPH) for the Department of New jersey, and he was
appointed as aide-de-camp to the national commander of the MOPH.
Central Wisconsin Chapter 101 has begun the annual process of
awarding scholarships. A reminder to chapters and state councils that also
have scholarship programs: VVA is accumulating a list of the number and
amount of scholarships our members provide each year. If your chapter
isn't on the list, contact Joe Saxman at email@example.com
with the information. To date, 39 chapters and two state councils have
provided 288 scholarships totaling over $67,000.
Akron, Ohio, Chapter 34 will send a group of volunteers to the
Super Kids Classic at Derby Downs for the 19th consecutive year on June 3.