A publication of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

August 2001/September 2001

Membership Notes

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).


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 Action Ribbon.

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 Sara McCormick.

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 members.

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 willnavy69@aol.com


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.


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.


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 neglect.

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.


E-mail us at TheVeteran@vva.org

     Home | Membership | Publications | Events | Government Relations | Contact Us
Press Releases | Benefits | Meetings & Special Events | Collectibles | Contributions and Sponsorships | Site Index

Vietnam Veterans of America ® 
8719 Colesville Road, Suite 100, Suite 400
Silver Spring, Maryland  20910-3710
301-585-4000, Fax 301-585-0519, 1-800-VVA-1316  

Copyright © 2005 by the Vietnam Veterans of America. All rights reserved.