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

March/April 2003




Region 7 Director Allen Manuel recognized several region members during the 14th Louisiana State Convention in Kinder. Jack Watson was honored as Veteran of the Year and presented the President's Award for his untiring work on behalf of his fellow veterans and the community, including spearheading the effort to bring the Moving Wall to Ascension Parish in 1997 and 2001. Kenny Minville and Alex Canova, president and vice president of Chapter 725 in Prairieville, accepted the award for Chapter of the Year. Darla Horner was recognized as Associate of the Year. She is the wife of U.S. Navy veteran Paul Horner. 

Fitzgibbon/McMahon Chapter 837 in Stoneham, Massachusetts, presented its Award for Excellence to Dennis O'Sullivan, a long-time nurse at the Bedford VA Medical Center. O'Sullivan is the Program Director of the facility's PTSD and Community Stabilization Program. Many veterans returned to thank O'Sullivan for being there for them when they felt their lives were not worth living. They said he saved their lives. 

Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, who was killed in a tragic plane crash last year, was honored by the Minnesota State Council at a memorial celebration in October. Minnesota State Council President Jerry Kyser and former Region 6 National Director Richard Bergling of Anoka County Chapter 470 presented oak-framed burial flags to David and Mark Wellstone in recognition of their father's unwavering support for veterans. In 1995, Wellstone was honored as VVA Legislator of the Year. 

Tampa Bay, Florida, Chapter 787 shared the Florida State Council Chapter of the Year with Panama City Chapter 826. This is the first time the award was given to two chapters. Chapter 787 won the award in 2000 for its community service activities, including homeless projects and an educational outreach program that became the model for the VVA National Educational Guidebook. 

It took 38 years, but Ronald R. Choquette was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star with "V" Device for his gallantry as a member of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne, in Vietnam in 1965. After his platoon came under heavy machine gun fire, Choquette, "began to advance on his stomach, with only grenades. Upon reaching a position where he could throw the grenades, while under intense enemy fire, he eliminated all the machine gun nests."

The decorations were presented by U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.). 


In January 1998, 75 extraordinary individuals led by Greg LeMond and Diana Nyad participated in the Vietnam Challenge, a 1,200 mile bicycle ride from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. American and Vietnamese veterans rode side by side and overcame physical, emotional, and geographical obstacles to heal the wounds of war. Among the riders representing VVA was Jose G. Ramos of Whittier, California. Since completing his ride, Ramos has continued the mission of healing. He has secured Proclamations from the cities of Santa Fe and Whittier, California, proclaiming January 27, 2003, Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. In May, Ramos and Duane Wagner will begin a bike ride from Whittier to the White House to deliver letters asking President Bush to declare a day in January Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. Ramos and Wagner need support and encouragement. Contact them at or call 562-761-2681 or 562-693-8474. 


Philadelphia Chapter 590, the "First Pennsylvania Mobile Historical Unit," reminds Gulf War veterans that the VA has set aside $20 million for additional research into Gulf War illnesses. The chapter reports that the VA plans to create a special center for medical imaging technologies to further study Gulf War illnesses.

Sgt. Ray Knight, a member of the 1st Battalion, 293rd Infantry, of the Indiana National Guard, is posted in the Middle East. Ralph Garcia and members of Chapter 698 in Bluffton, Indiana, frequently eat at the restaurant where Knight's mother works and decided to put together boxes of treats for Knight and his fellow soldiers. Chapter 698 members are busy accumulating such things as chewing gum, cookies, and Tabasco sauce. 


Chapter 650 in Catonsville, Maryland, has been busy. President Will Schwartz reports that the chapter has adopted the VA Service Center in Woodlawn and will supply it with coffee, sugar, milk, and other items for the men and women who use the facility. Center service officers have been covering these costs for years, and the chapter decided it was time to help out.

The chapter color guard was asked to participate in the Hometown Boy Parade honoring newly elected Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., in Arbutus.  

The Maryland State Council has met with the Maryland state legislature and helped create a Veterans Caucus among its members, including VVA member Larry Kimmel, the newly appointed Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Veterans Commission. The Maryland State Council was represented by President Bruce Whitaker, Vice President Jim Shot, Treasurer Frank Stacy, Secretary Carol Baker, and Catonsville Chapter 650 members Will Schwartz, Avery Taylor, Tom Insley, Houston Matley, and Rob Coughlin. 

Chapter 48 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is proud to be the only non-religious organization to assist in serving evening meals to the homeless and hungry at the local shelter.  


Rock River Chapter 236 in Janesville, Wisconsin, received letters of thanks for two scholarships. Meghan Ault thanked the chapter for the scholarship award she received to attend the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse. Angela Marie Grorud expressed her gratitude for the scholarship that has allowed her to pursue her studies in elementary education at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater. 


Randy Johnson, a member of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Chapter 310, is proud of the chapter and its efforts to provide a Smashing Pumpkins Halloween party for the patients at the Ann Arbor VA last October. Chapter 310 was recognized as VVA National Chapter of the Year in 1999. The chapter's joy is tempered with sadness following the recent death of Joe Rodriguez, a local Marine who helped raise the American Flag on Iwo Jima in World War II. 

Virginia Beach Chapter 48 celebrated Valentine's Day with a party at the Hampton VA Medical Center. Chapter members passed out Valentine's Day cards, candy, doughnuts, coffee, and fruit juices to patients in the Spinal Cord Injury Unit and the psychiatric wards. The chapter also conducts regular bingo games at the hospital. 


David Keeton, an at-large member in Michigan, reports that on Memorial Day at the Wildlife Prairie State Park in Peoria, Illinois, a tribute will be held to honor dog handlers who served in Vietnam. The ceremony will feature the dedication of a statue of a handler and his dog.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Forest Park Foundation at 309-688-6631.             

Chapter 772 in Gainesville, Georgia, took part in ceremonies commemorating the 61st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December. The chapter also erected a 20th Century War Memorial in Rock Creek Park in Gainesville. The memorial acknowledges the five major wars that the United States participated in during the 20th century: World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War. 


St. Croix Valley, Wisconsin, Chapter 331 received two letters of thanks for donations to local programs. The Pierce County Wisconsin Department of Human Services praised the chapter for a $1,000 donation to the county food pantry in December. West Central Wisconsin Community Action Agency thanked the chapter for its $100 donation to the local food program.  


Peter Calloway is looking for someone who can help him obtain his father's medals and decorations. Larry James Calloway was killed in action on September 25, 1966. He was born July 1, 1941, in Cincinnati. If you can help, contact Peter at

Col. Harold F. Lyons Memorial Chapter 822 in Marion, Ohio, has become the only incarcerated chapter in Ohio to fly the POW/MIA flag. Chapter members thanked Warden Gordon Lane, Deputy Warden Linda Bond, Major Morris, and Staff Adviser Roberta Johnson-Bonner.  

Sumner County Chapter 240 in Gallatin, Tennessee, braved the heat, cold, rain, and wind to solicit contributions in front of the local Wal-Mart store to fund a trip to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington and to support local food and toy drives during the holidays.  

Liberty Bell Chapter 266 in Philadelphia is seeking donations of socks to be distributed to the Philadelphia Multi-Service and Educational Center. If you can help, contact the chapter at 215-288-VETS. 

Fresno, California, Forming Chapter presented guest speaker Dan Hartman from the Veterans Crisis Program. The local organization helps homeless veterans with a variety of services and resources. 

Central Wisconsin Chapter 101 in Wisconsin Rapids has designated its Spring Monsoon Fund Raiser in April as a celebration of the chapter's 20th anniversary. 

Merced, California, Chapter 691 acknowledged the 83rd birthday of member Frank Paredes and the 44th anniversary of his marriage to Artemisa. 

Western Massachusetts Chapter One-Eleven in Springfield reports that the VA will establish two National Multiple Sclerosis Centers to provide high-quality care to veterans suffering from this chronic neurological disease. One center will be established in Baltimore, and another will be established jointly at the Portland and Seattle VA Medical Centers. 

San Jacinto Chapter 343 in Houston again will staff the concession stand at Rice University Stadium during baseball season this spring. Rice has been ranked as the No. 2 collegiate team in the nation according to Baseball America and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. 

New York State Council President John Rowan reports that the Catholic War Veterans has launched a unique membership drive. With the permission, cooperation, and support of local pastors, the CWV and Auxiliary will stand outside churches after Mass on Sundays and canvass for new members. For additional information contact John at


In the last issue, the sponsor of the Moving Wall in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, was misidentified.

Chapter 635 in Oconomowoc was the sponsor and Chapter 767 in Racine participated in the opening ceremonies. We regret the error.


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