A VVA STAFF REPORT
Mark Pitts, a member of Sons and Daughters in Touch and the son of
Capt. Riley L. Pitts, reports that on October 31 the U.S. Army
base at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, renamed a firing range the Riley L.
Pitts Memorial Range. Pitts' father was killed October 31, 1967.
Captain Pitts was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his
heroic actions. Captain Pitts' citation can be found at
At Fort Sill,
Ralph A. Jones commends The VVA Veteran for helping him
bring his old unit back together. Jones writes that articles in
The VVA Veteran inspired several of his buddies in 2nd
Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery to form a reunion group. They
served at Fire Support Base Illingsworth and provided artillery
support for ARVN units during the April 1970 invasion of Cambodia.
The reunion group now counts 140 members and recently planted a
tree at the headquarters of the 6th/32nd Regimental Headquarters
at Fort Sill to honor those who lost their lives at Fire Support
Base Illingsworth on April 1, 1970.
Buffalo, New York, Chapter 77 is honored to announce that
the remains of Navy LCDR Thomas Sitek, whose F-4 phantom jet was
shot down over Ha Bac Province in North Vietnam on August 23,
1967, have been positively identified. Since 1992, his family has
worked closely with the Central Identification Laboratory-Hawaii,
now part of Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.
The remains of Sitek's co-pilot, Ensign Patrick Ness, were
identified in 1986. Two of Sitek's grandchildren, Thomas Hammer
and Andrew Hammer, served as pallbearers at the funeral. Chapter
77 will engrave a star next to Sitek's name on the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial on the Buffalo waterfront to signify that his
remains have been returned.
After serving in the U.S. Army for 32 years in Germany, Africa,
Korea, and Vietnam, Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Robert Olmes of
Chapter 243 in Lee's Summit, Missouri, was honored with
the presentation of The Order of The Silver Rose by Charles
Stapleton, the chapter president. VVA Missouri State Council
President Al Gibson attended the ceremony.
McCoy Area Chapter 462 in Sparta, Wisconsin, on May
11 dedicated a two-sided Vietnam Veterans Memorial which depicts
three nurses and the medic portrayed in the film "We Were
WATCH FIRE WEDDING
During the Watch Fire held in Grove, Oklahoma, on September 20
Chapter 878 Treasurer Jim Clanin married AVVA member Mikki
Clubb. VVA Oklahoma State Council President Lou Broughton
gave away the bride; Chapter 878 President Teddy Reynolds served
as best man. The ceremony was performed by the "Great Pumpkin"
from Chapter 524 in Tulsa. The Great Pumpkin has a
church in Avant, Oklahoma.
In June, Chapter 787 in Tampa, Florida, demonstrated
its commitment to VVA's Founding Principle by throwing a Welcome
Home party for Sgt. Stephen Dion, Jr., and his wife Karen. Dion
had returned from duty in Iraq. He is the son of Joyce Koprowski
and the step-son of Region 4 Director John Koprowski. After
a rousing Welcome Home cheer by chapter members, Dion told of the
long day and night marches to Baghdad, and said that all the
packages sent by the chapter weren't received until the unit had
been relieved and pulled back to Kuwait.
Also home from Iraq is Sean Harrigan, son of John Harrigan, a
member of Robert E. Wheelock Memorial Chapter 327 in
Stanhope, New Jersey.
Ssgt. Joe Rodriguez died about six months ago in Ann Arbor,
Michigan. Although the World War II Iwo Jima veteran was not
directly involved, his unit was immortalized in Joe Rosenthal's
famous photograph and the bronze Marine Corps memorial in
Arlington, Virginia. Rodriguez's family asked the members of the
Washtenaw County Veterans Honor Guard, which includes members of
Washtenaw County Chapter 310 to serve during the dedication
ceremony for the Joe Rodriguez Memorial in St. Thomas Cemetery.
Chapter 333 in New City, New York, recognized the
signs of depression and anxiety exhibited by local families who
have children serving in the war in Iraq. The chapter contacted
the New York Mets baseball club through the NYPD patrol unit in
the borough of Queens and obtained 55 tickets for returning troops
and their families. The Spring Valley Rotary Club donated a luxury
bus for transportation. Chapter 1st Vice president Bill Winder and
chapter public information officer Howard Goldin, who are retired
New York police officers, arranged for the Patrol Borough Queens
North to set up a barbecue area for the participants.
Beaver County Chapter 862 in Freedom, Pennsylvania,
took part in dedication ceremonies for the Korean War Memorial in
western Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh. Chapter 862 has been very
involved in bringing the memorial to fruition. Much credit goes to
the Memorial Committee consisting of John and Sherry Namath, Bill
Mums, Bob Grant, and the late Chuck Nowry.
Richard Jones, president of Santa Rosa, California, Chapter 223
urges his members to support Moms of Military Service members.
They meet regularly to help support each other and raise money to
send packages to their sons and daughters serving in the military
around the globe. Additional information can be obtained by
calling Jones at 707-539-8471 or e-mailing him at
The Granite State Vietnam Veterans Foundation presented a check
for $15,000 to Maj. Gen. John Blair, Adjutant General for the
state of New Hampshire. The donation will be used to acquire
stained glass windows for the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery
Chapel in Boscawen. Over the years the foundation has provided
grants of more than $40,000 to projects including the Veterans
Home in Tilton, Liberty House in Manchester, the New Hampshire
Veterans Association in Laconia, and the VVA New Hampshire
Steve Mulcahy reports that incarcerated veterans at the Newton
Correctional Facility raised funds to purchase a trailer-style
barbecue for the Iowa Veterans Home. A Certificate of Appreciation
was presented to the group on behalf of Governor Tom Vilsack.
Sarah Thompson of Chapter 842 in Tupelo, Mississippi,
reports that the chapter donated a new POW/MIA flag to the local
Chester County Chapter 436 in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania,
donated funds to purchase a new volleyball net for the Coatesville
VA Medical Center. The new net continues a tradition that permits
spirited competition between VA residents and VVA members.
Northwest Chicago Chapter 209 made a $100 donation to the
Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation, and $1,000 to the Illinois
Military Family Relief Fund. Chapter members Ron Wagenhofer,
Richard Simmons, Ron Pasko, and Tom Parrie presented the check to
Illinois Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn.
Chapter 787 in Tampa, Florida, donated $250 to
purchase school supplies for the children of homeless women
veterans in the local VA Homeless Program.
If your chapter or state council provides grants or scholarships,
please send the total number of scholarships/grants, and the total
amount provided in the last 12 months to
Chapter 462 in Sparta, Wisconsin, awarded four $750
scholarships to area students again this year.
The VVA Virginia State Council awarded $1,000 scholarships
to Jay Strand and Daniel Ignatowski. Strand is the photographer
for the Northern Virginia Chapter 227 newsletter, The
Journey, and served on the USS Chicago in the Tonkin
Gulf in 1965-66 as a computer service tech. He is finishing work
on a masters degree in Applied Engineering Statistics at George
Mason University. Ignatowski, son of Len and Diane Ignatowski, is
a junior at Radford University majoring in media studies.
Rockland County Chapter 333 in New City, New York,
awarded a total of $3,000 in scholarships to four children of
chapter members. Adam Chagares, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charlie
Chagares received $1,000; he is attending Ithaca College. Brian
Frank, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Frank, attends Manhattan College
and also received $1,000. Brian and Kimberly Winder, the children
of Bill Winder, will split $1,000 because the chapter felt they
were both qualified. Brian attends Dominican College and Kimberly
is a student at Johnson and Wales University.
Chapter 767 in Racine/Kenosha, Wisconsin,
contributed funds to the Safe Haven Shelter in Racine. The
facility is a shelter and counseling center for lost and runaway
children. The center was founded 30 years ago and has helped
ODDS 'N' ENDS
Despite losing a leg while serving with the 23rd Infantry Division
(Americal) in Vietnam, Philipa Truman Sumpter of Georgetown, South
Carolina, didn't let that get in the way of his rising to say the
Pledge of Allegiance during Welcome Home ceremonies held by
Chapter 925 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Newly elected National Treasurer Alan Cook was featured in an
article in The Daily Review, a regional newspaper in
northern California. Cook and his wife Cindy talked about the
feelings he had as he accompanied Sons and Daughters In Touch to
Vietnam in March on the same day his oldest son, Danny, deployed
to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division. "That was a tough day,"
said Cindy, saying she felt like she was sending both her son and
husband off to war.
CARE AND FEEDING OF YOUR LEGISLATORS
In August, U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) met with members
of Tri-State Appalachian Chapter 172 in Cumberland,
Maryland. Mikulski had a casual roundtable meeting with the
group and said: "There are currently a lot of bad rumors going
around about the VA, and unfortunately I can confirm them all. I
think it is a disgrace that honorably discharged veterans have to
pay to belong to the VA Health Care System. They paid their entry
fee when they joined the military and should not have to pay
again." Mikulski promised the group she would continue her fight
for full funding of the VA.
Chapter 825 in Mays Landing, New Jersey, sponsored
its sixth annual Delaware Veterans Homecoming. The event is held
at the VA Medical Center in Wilmington; more than seventy
organizations provide information on services available to
veterans and their families.
Fresno, California, Forming Chapter members initiated a
20th anniversary commemorative event on October 23 honoring the
243 sailors and Marines killed in the Beirut barracks bombing and
the 19 killed two days later in the invasion of Grenada. The event
included a morning flag raising and lowering to half-staff by an
Honor Guard of Marines, and a Proclamation by the city of Fresno
designating the week of October 19-25 as "The 20th Anniversary of
the Bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, and the
20th Anniversary of the Invasion of Grenada Commemorative Week."
The National Conference of Vietnam Veteran Ministers, founded by
VVA National Chaplain Father Phil Salois, held a ceremony at the
recently refurbished New York Vietnam Veterans Plaza on October 23
in remembrance of the 1,741 New York City residents who died in
Vietnam. The ceremony followed the annual meeting of the NCVVM
held at the Cardinal Spellman Retreat Center in the Bronx.
Chapter 324 in Milwaukee held ceremonies on National
Lao-Hmong Recognition Day this year paying respects to those who
served during the secret war in Laos in the 1960s. The event was
held on the grounds of the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center.
Several thousand people attended the ceremonies, including
American Gold Star Mothers who presented Certificates of
Recognition to the wives and mothers of Lao-Hmong who were killed
during the covert war. Chapter 324 and the Lao-Hmong community
have worked together very closely for the last several years on
projects benefiting the community.
Chapter 303 in Columbia, South Carolina, rededicated
the Gold Star Walkway at Memorial Park in September. Chapter 303
has held a special ceremony honoring Gold Star families for many
Gary Lillie reports that Ann Arbor, Michigan, Chapter 310
president John Kinzinger thought the chapter should have a pig
roast as a fund raiser. Lillie purchased a pig at the local 4H
club and donated it to the chapter. Lillie named the pig after his
favorite Hollywood actress/activist. The event raised money for
packages for the troops, parties for veterans at local VA
hospitals, and many other chapter projects. Lillie reports that
the pig roast served 300 people and raised over $3,000.
Chapter 53 in Redondo Beach, California, wasn't
content to have the entire stretch of California Highway 1 in Los
Angeles County designated as the "Los Angeles Vietnam Veterans
Memorial Highway." The chapter is now lobbying Assemblyman George
Nakano, the author of the Highway 1 bill, to have the full
500-mile section of California Highway 1 designated the Blue Star
Memorial Highway. The Blue Star Highway idea goes back to 1944
when the New Jersey State Council of Garden Clubs beautified a
52-mile stretch of U.S. Route 22 from Mountainside to North
Plainfield with approximately 8,000 dogwood trees planted as a
living memorial to the men and women in the armed forces from that
state. The Blue Star was chosen as a symbol because it was used
during World War II on flags and homes of families that had a son
or daughter in the service.
In Ocean Springs, Mississippi, on POW/MIA Day Robert Baker, VVA
Texas State Council Chapter Startup Coordinator and State
Director of the Order of The Silver Rose presented Silver Rose
Medals to Michael D. Teter, Executive Secretary of the Mississippi
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Seren Ainsworth, Mayor of Ocean
Springs, and Rodney Wilkinson, Past Commander of the Military
Order of the Purple Heart, Department of Mississippi.