August 2001/September 2001
A VVA Staff Report
In June, after a long and sometimes tortuous journey, the
members of Chapter 53 in Redondo Beach, California,
dedicated the Los Angeles County Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Highway. The unveiling of a large green sign with white reflective
lettering officially recognized a 117-mile stretch of California
Highway 1. Chapter President Jerry Yamamoto and his team worked
tirelessly to make this happen.
Gerald Harris remembers the 1953 battle of Pork Chop Hill. He
was 20 years old and took a shrapnel wound to his left leg. While
members of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Chapter 862 proudly
held the flags behind him, he was awarded his Purple Heart for
those wounds, 48 years after the fact. Harris received the medal
from Rep. Melissa Hart (R).
FATHERS AND SONS
In a ceremony in 1999, AVVA member Ross Grego and his wife,
Sammy, were presented the medals their son Philip earned in
Vietnam. Philip Grego was a 19-year-old Marine when he was killed
by enemy fire on August 23, 1966. The only decoration his family
received was the Purple Heart. At the 1999 ceremony they received
nine other decorations their son had earned, including the Combat
Fast forward to May 2001 and another ceremony. John Mallon of VVA
Chapter 798 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, learned that the
senior Grego had never received the medals that he had earned for
his service during World War II. On Armed Forces Day, Ross Grego
was presented with his Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Star, and
eight other decorations he was entitled to.
A few months ago, Eric Smith contacted VVA’s web site looking for help with a school project. His request was posted on
the VVA Talk List and Eric received many responses from VVA
members. Eric interviewed a Vietnam veteran in his community and
developed a presentation for his school. He sent VVA a copy of his
report. In his cover letter Eric says, "How thankful I am
that you have such a great organization," and "Thank
your organization for its good information and the good people who
believe in this cause."
Marshall County Chapter 797 in Lewisburg, Tennessee,
awarded $500 scholarships to Karen McDaniel, Ashley Bindl, and
Down the road in Pulaski, Chapter 262 raised over $4,000
for its scholarship fund with a golf tournament and a booth at the
local Wal-Mart. The chapter awards scholarships to one senior from
each high school in Giles County and to college-bound children of
Chapter 601 in Bennington, Vermont, presented two
scholarships to local students. Maria Fierro, a graduate of Mount
Anthony Union High School, received $500. Patrick King of
Arlington High School received a $250 scholarship.
The cover of the February/March issue of The VVA Veteran
featured a photo of volunteers replacing the lamps at the base of
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Now the July issue of International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has a story recognizing the
volunteer electricians and former Maryland State Council
president Will Schwartz for the work maintaining the lights
at The Wall. Schwartz and other volunteers inspect and
replace the lamps twice yearly, the Saturday before Mother's Day
and the Saturday prior to Veterans Day. If you are interested in
volunteering, contact Schwartz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mid-Rivers Chapter 458 in Saint Peters, Missouri,
helped raise more than $7,000 for the World War II Memorial and
$250 for a veterans memorial in the local community, scheduled for
a Veteran’s Day 2001 dedication.
Down River Chapter 259 in Taylor, Michigan, has a
full calendar for the rest of the year. Throughout the year, the
chapter is involved in many community and service projects such as
the Motorcycle Run to the Canadian Vietnam Veterans Memorial,
Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Veterans Day parades, Thanksgiving
and Christmas dinners for hospitalized vets, and clothing
donations to needy families.
MOVING, TRAVELING, IN MOTION WALL
Chapter 809 hosted the Traveling Wall at Memorial Park in McPherson,
Kansas, over Independence Day. Ceremonies included a POW/MIA
tribute, as well as the dedication of the park’s sidewalks as
"Purple Heart Pathways," and recognizing William Joseph
Everhart of McPherson County as the first Kansan and 75th American
to die in the war.
ODDS ‘N’ ENDS
In the June/July 2001 issue of the The VVA Veteran, Rhode
Island State Council president Larry Goucher encouraged VVA
members to contact Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Almond and urge him
to veto a bill that would have renamed the Eddie Dowling Memorial
Highway. Dowling is a Rhode Island native who organized the USO
shows in World War II. Goucher reports that because of so much
resistance to the change, the bill to rename the highway was
scrapped, and the legislature named an additional six miles of the
road for Dowling.
Veterans in the city of Richland Center, Wisconsin,
began by asking that a portion of U.S. 14 from Richland to
LaCrosse be designated Wisconsin’s "Purple Heart
Highway." Two-time Purple Heart recipient John O’Brien was
assigned by his boss, State Senator Dale Schultz, to manage the
project. Local veterans, business people, and city leaders came
together with a plan to have Richland Center proclaim itself
Wisconsin’s "Purple Heart City." The city has filed a
trademark application for the title.
Baltimore Chapter 451 helped raise more than $30,000 and
collected 4,200 bras in support of the first-ever Bra Ball. The
project raises money and awareness for breast cancer research. The
chapter offered the use of their hall at no charge for a Thank You
Party and made a cash donation, along with Maryland Chapters
588 and 722. The bras were wrapped into a 300-pound ball.
Cathleen Cordova was elected national president of the Women’s
Overseas Service League at its annual convention in July. Cordova,
a member of Bay Area Chapter 400 in Oakland, California,
is cofounder of Circle of Sisters Circle of Friends, an
organization of civilian women who served in the Vietnam War.
Nicholas C. Valenti, President of Chapter 704 and the
director of the Cayuga County Veterans Service Agency in Auburn,
New York, met with VA Secretary Anthony Principi when the
Secretary met with the Veterans Advisory Committee for seven-term
Rep. James T. Walsh (R).
"Vietnam veterans have charisma, not stigma!" So
begins the newsletter of Capitol Chapter 542 in Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania. This was reinforced by front-page, full-color
coverage of the chapter in the Lebanon Sunday News
following the Annville Memorial Day Parade.
Phoenix Chapter 726 in Polk City, Florida, placed a
wreath on Memorial Day at Polk Correctional Institution. Special
guests were unable to attend because the roads leading to the
prison were closed due to forest fires. President Terry Faddis
opened the ceremonies, and the Charles Johnson Color Guard
presented the colors. Chaplain Ron Varner offered the Invocation.
Bill Dillon, Timothy Talley, Michael McClure, Charles Hughes, and
Armando Leon, Jr., participated in the ceremony.
Next time you visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in
Washington, take a close look at the base of the flagpole near the
"Three Fighting Men" statue. Every morning, Marines from
the Marine Barracks in Washington polish The Eagle, Globe, and
Anchor of the Marine Corps emblem at the base of the flagpole. The
mirror-like finish is in stark contrast to the emblems of the
other services, which are dull and tarnished after years of
The Vermont State Council again sponsored the annual
picnic at the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington. This is the
fourth year that all Vermont chapters helped with this event.
Oahu, Hawaii, Chapter 858 represented VVA as they took part
in the first parade for VVA in the state of Hawaii on Independence
Day in Kailua. Following the parade, chapter members and friends
gathered at a private residence in Kailua for a pool party.
Chapter 838 in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, hosted its
local Independence Day Parade in July. Classic cars and floats
joined mounted units saluting parade Grand Marshall’s Ray
Barnett and John Terry, both veterans of World War II.
San Jacinto Chapter 343 Color Guard in Houston, Texas
took part in the Meadows Place, Texas City Parade on July 4.