The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

June/July 2002      

Membership Notes



Capt. Humberto Rocque "Rocky" Versace tormented his Vietnamese captors from October 29, 1963, until he was executed on September 26, 1965. On December 28, 2001, President Bush authorized awarding Versace the Medal of Honor for his actions while a POW.

Both the Texas State Council's Texas Vietnam Veterans News and Connection, the newsletter of Greater Hartford, Connecticut, Chapter 120, featured front-page stories reporting that Col. James N. "Nick" Rowe, who was a fellow prisoner, originally recommended Versace for the award. Rowe and retired Sgt. Maj. Dan Pitzer, also a prisoner with Versace, helped create the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape training at the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, based on their experiences as prisoners in Vietnam. 

Bruce W. Whitaker stepped down as President of Tri-State Appalachian Chapter 172 in Cumberland, Maryland. Whitaker used his final message in The Point, newsletter of Chapter 172, to encourage chapter members to get involved in chapter elections and projects. The chapter rewarded him for his six years of leadership with a plaque and a USMC NCO sword and display case.

Kettle Moraine Chapter 448 in Newburg, Wisconsin, and the award-winning Nevada State Council news journal, The Perimeter Guard, both ran articles about the U.S. Army=s decision to name its new armored vehicle "The Stryker" in honor of enlisted men from World War II and Vietnam who received the Medal of Honor. PFC Stuart S. Stryker received his award posthumously for action in World War II with the 513th Parachute Regiment, 17th Airborne Division. SP4 Robert F. Stryker served with the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry of the Army=s 1st Infantry Division. He threw himself on a mine to save the lives of his comrades. 

The Massachusetts State Council=s Bay State Vietnam Veteran dedicated the spring 2002 issue to medics and corpsmen. The paper featured a collection of elegies to Charlie "Doc" Brennan, Chapter 554, Auburn, who died of Agent Orange-related cancer in October. Brennan served in Vietnam as an Army medic at Lai Khe in 1966-67 and was a founding member of the National Medics and Corpsmen Association. Additional information on NMCA is available by sending an e-mail to,,  or 


Suffolk County, New York, Chapter 11 held its 12th Gold Star Mothers Breakfast May 5 at the Smithtown Sheraton Hotel. The annual breakfast honors this special group of people. National President Tom Corey attended. Coincidentally, the California State Legislature designated the week of May 27 to June 2 as Gold Star Mothers Week. 


North Dakota Chapter 374 sent 2,500 pounds of food and small gifts to a U.S. Marine unit in Afghanistan. 


Nashville, Tennessee, Chapter 240 recognized the doctors and staff of Cornea Consultants with the chapter=s highest award for service to veterans, the Community Compassion Award. President Wayne Georgiades presented Drs. Erich Groos, Jr., and Ira Shivitz, and the staff with the award, saying the recognition was "for the real work they have done for our chapter and the communities in which we serve." 

Members of Chapter 788 in Bozeman, Montana, attended six hours of classroom and hands-on chain-saw training offered by the U.S. Forest Service in May. When members work on the trail at Grotto Falls, they are considered U.S.F.S. employees and must receive the training to be qualified. 

West Shore Chapter 249 in Bay Village, Ohio, had Retired Navy Capt. Giles Northington as guest speaker at the May chapter meeting. Northington served 23 years in the Navy and 11 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. On his 22nd combat mission over North Vietnam he was shot down and spent nearly five years as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton.

Chapter 414 in Waukesha, Wisconsin, has three highway cleanups scheduled this year in May, July, and November. Chapter member Dan Sciuti lives at the midway point of the four-mile stretch of Highway 164. Volunteers get to collect trash and then share coffee and donuts at Sciuti=s home. 

Texarkana, Texas, Chapter 278 held its Sixth Annual Veterans Information Fair in downtown Texarkana on Armed Forces Day. Red Cross, Alzheimer=s Association, Social Security Administration, Texarkana VA Medical Center, Texas Workforce Commission, Hospice, Vet Center, and the Small Business Administration are a few of the supporting organizations. The one-stop shopping is designed to help veterans and active-duty personnel and their families obtain services and get information on other programs and services available to them. 

Liberty Bell Chapter 266 in Philadelphia held its annual Easter Party for children and families at the St. Francis Inn. The Easter Bunny appeared for photo opportunities. 


Among the many chapters offering scholarships is Chapter 101 in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. The chapter will award $500 to the winner of an essay contest asking the question, "What impact did the tunnels at Cu Chi have on the Vietnam War efforts?" Chapter 800 in East Rutherford, New Jersey, is offering two $500 scholarships this year for the winner of an essay on the topic, "How and why does the tragedy of September 11 cause American citizens to have greater appreciation toward our country=s veteran?"

Chapter 436 in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, offers a post-high school grant to the children of chapter members, and Chapter 236 in Janesville, Wisconsin, reviewed scholarship applicants in April. Chattanooga, Tennessee, Chapter 203 offers a $1,000 scholarship to relatives of chapter members. Chapter 343 in Houston has the Robert F. Connally Scholarship Program, and the Texas State Council sponsors the Alberto Rodriguez Memorial Scholarship. 


New City, New York, Chapter 333 formed a partnership with the Jersey Explorer Children=s Museum, and members shared their war experiences with some 10,000 students at four different schools. More than 30 Vietnam veterans took part in the series that included a traveling exhibit containing over 200 items left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Chapter members were in the middle of their presentation at Rockland Community College on September 11 when news of the World Trade Center attack was announced. According to chapter Education Chair Howard Golden, "The exhibit took on a very personal meaning, and students learned not only about the war, they also learned about healing and what Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is all about." 

Chapter 787 in Tampa, Florida, announced that chapter member Ron Dyches, recipient of the Florida State Council Educator of the Year award, was named Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year. Dyches created an elective course on the History of the Vietnam War that is taught in 11 high schools.


Chapter 82 in Hicksville, New York, is making preparations to celebrate the Chapter=s 20th anniversary in September, featuring music by the Capris. If you want to join in the festivities and share the experience, contact Connie Steers at 516-822-5938 or Tim Glover at 516-822-5811. 


Chapter 535 in Grass Valley, California, was treated to member Dave Fleuti=s "Roadkill Chili" featuring, "Elk by Edsel, Pork by Pontiac, and Beans by Buick" at a recent membership recruitment meeting. 

The Austin, Texas, Forming Chapter held its first organizational meeting in April. Vietnam veterans in the area are urged to contact Bob Baker at 979-562-2432 for additional information. 

Darrell Robertson, treasurer of Veterans Incarcerated Chapter 847 in Kinder, Louisiana, serves as a reading tutor in the Education Department at Allen Correctional Center, where those who are unable to read or have difficulty keeping up with lessons are provided with skills to help them in their daily lives. The chapter has also presented a class on decisionmaking to the inmates.

Chapter 303 in Columbia, South Carolina, reprinted an article announcing that the U.S. Army has awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal to Connie Stevens seven months after she was recognized for her service to Vietnam veterans at the 10th National Convention in Greensboro, North Carolina, last August. 

Quad Cities Chapter 299 Honor Guard in Rock Island, Illinois, presented the colors at the Rock Island Criterium and presented the chapter at services at the Rock Island Arsenal on Memorial Day. 

The third Saturday of each month, members of Chapter 223 in Santa Rosa, California, get together to clean up and restore tombstones and walls at the local cemetery. About three years ago the chapter began volunteer patrols in the cemetery on Halloween to combat vandalism. 

Chapter 343 in Houston salutes members Armando Aguilar, Arturo Aguilar, Wolf Biedenfield, William Brown, Kurt Hafer, Michael Heredia, and Bob Hopkins who prepared hundreds of sea trout filets at the 21st Annual Good Friday Fish Fry. Fellow chapter members Steve Jaffe, Leo Perez, Ben Saenz, Joe Trujillo, Carl Tuenge, and Carlos Uresti also helped out at the annual chapter event that raises funds for chapter projects.

Kentucky State Council President Darrell Martin, a member of Kentuckiana Chapter 454 in Louisville, reports that VVA Life Member Larry Arnett, Legislative Affairs Chair for Chapter 454, has declared his candidacy for the 57th District House of Representatives in the State General Assembly.

Chapter 12 in Allenhurst, New Jersey, has a fishing trip scheduled for June 9. The "Capt. Cal II" leaves the dock at 3:00 pm.


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