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

August/September 2004


Chapter 767 of Racine, Wisconsin, joined in the ceremony welcoming home the body of U.S. Marine Corps PFC Thomas Blackman, who had been listed as MIA in Iraq. His family identified Blackman's remains. Mass was held at St. Richard's Catholic Church and included the participation of the church and children's choirs.


Arnold Dos Santos, past president of Oakland, California, Chapter 400, recently was presented the U.S. Coast Guard Public Service Commendation recognizing his contributions to the community. Dos Santos was surrounded by members of his chapter at the presentation which commended him "for his extraordinary efforts to recognize and honor U.S. war veterans." Dos Santos saw combat as a Marine Corps rifleman while serving a 13-month tour in Vietnam. He joined Chapter 400 in 1985 and became involved in planning the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Alameda's Veterans Memorial Park. In 1996, Dos Santos approached a homeowners community group and raised $56,000 from sponsors to fund improvements to the park.


Brian Mulcrone, president of Chapter 311 in Des Plaines, Illinois, announced on July 18 the completion of a ten-month project to rehabilitate, host, and re-dedicate the Lake Park Memorial Pavilion at Lake Opeka. Erected with private funds in 1975, the memorial has been the site of many activities and ceremonies. Engraved on the interior are the names of the war dead of Des Plaines from the Civil War through Vietnam. Nearly $40,000 was raised to install poles for the armed forces service flags, commemorative medallions for each of the services, improved security lighting, and other enhancements.

Stevie Anderson of Chapter 559 at the Grafton Correctional Institution in Ohio has constructed a Veterans Memorial Garden in the facility. Dedication ceremonies were held in June. The prison chaplain delivered the invocation and  attendees included warden Carl Andersen. The memorial includes the American flag, POW-MIA flag, VVA flag, and the five service flags. The chapter also operates Operation Greenhouse, which raises hundreds of ornamental plants for the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, Ohio.

Oahu, Hawaii, Chapter 858 took part in Memorial Day ceremonies at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at Pu'owaina Crater. For the first time, AVVA members Jane Maeda and Carol Lockett presented the wreath on behalf of the chapter. The chapter also laid a wreath during the Waialua Lions Club 58th annual Veterans Memorial Service, a photo of which appeared on the front page of the Hawaii Navy Star.


The Jefferson Township Bicentennial Committee is hosting the Moving Vietnam Wall at the Snow Bowl in Jefferson Township, New Jersey, September 21-29. The committee will have Vietnam veterans speak to groups of school children and adults about the Vietnam War. For additional information, contact Jack Kelly at 973-697-5957, or e-mail

The Cannoneer of Fort Sill, Oklahoma, recently ran a story about the presentation of the Wall That Heals in Elmer Thomas Park in Lawton. Hundreds turned out to touch the names of loved ones and to pay respects to those who gave their lives in the Vietnam War.

Chapter 249 in Cleveland hosted the Moving Wall at Cuyahoga Community College. Chapter members Ron Covrett and Bill Hoag welcomed the public and met with the families of local men memorialized on The Wall. "It is our job as surviving Vietnam veterans to help ease the pain for the families who are still grieving after all these years," Covrett said.

Racine, Wisconsin, Chapter 767 is hosting the Moving Wall in September and is raising funds to support the project.


Chapter 862 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, held a Memorial Day Eve Gold Star Mothers Service for the families of the 73 local men killed in action in the Vietnam War. The program featured singers, a poetry reading, and a candlelight reading of the names of the dead.


The Southern California chapter of Sons and Daughters In Touch (SDIT) held its third annual SoCal Jamboree August 1 in Freedom Park in Westminster. SDIT members from outside California joined in activities that included volleyball, horseshoes, and hiking. Terry McGregor coordinated the event.


Miami-Dade County Chapter 121 in Florida recently raised the spirits of veterans in the Miami VA Medical Center: The chapter invited Miss Florida 2003, Shauna Pender, and Miss Florida 2004, Jenna Edwards, to visit with patients in the Spinal Cord Injury ward. Edwards had visited the ward when she was Miss University of Miami and has become a veterans' advocate. Chapter President Bruce McManus thanks Eppie Ortiz, Joseph Jorge, and Eladio Rivera for their work in making this wonderful event a reality.


VVA opened an office in the Phoenix, Arizona, VARO in July. It is the first VVA office in a VARO in Region 9. When told by the administration that there was no space available, Arizona State Council President Bill Messer negotiated with other VSOs in the facility. VVA now shares space with the American Ex-Prisoners of War.


Chapter 55 in Licking County, Ohio, has had two very successful fund-raisers this year, with 95 percent of the funds raised going to veterans, food baskets, scholarships, and the like. In April, chapter members handed out American flags in front of a local supermarket and raised over $1,700. The annual Memorial Day Coffee Break at the rest stop at the junction of Interstate 70 and Interstate 79 raised over $3,000.


Incarcerated Chapter 558 at the Southern Desert Correctional Center in Indian Springs, Nevada, raised more than $6,500 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Breast cancer survivor Mimi Shimp, coordinator of the annual event that consists of more than one hundred 5- kilometer races around the country, said she was amazed at what the men had accomplished in soliciting funds throughout the prison. "These men made mistakes," Shimp said, " but they are doing something positive and they deserve to be recognized for it."


A contingent of Soviet veterans who fought in Afghanistan visited the Washington area and met with Vietnam veterans to discuss the needs and resources of all veterans. The group is seeking information from American veterans on forming a veterans' support group in Krygyzistan to serve veterans, widows, and orphans.


Tracy Tuttle was the recipient of a $500 scholarship presented to her by Chapter 810 in Chillicothe, Ohio. Making the presentation were Rich Grubb, Region 4 Director and Chapter President John Daubert.

VVA Chapter 688 in Union County, New Jersey, presented several scholarships to local college students. Susan Carro (Penn State University), Stacie Jeans (Moravian College), Brian Kopnicki (The College of New Jersey), Karen McCourt (Boston College), and Scott Moore (University of Massachusetts) each received an award of $500.


Union County, New Jersey, Chapter 688 visited Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School for the tenth consecutive year. Chapter members Tom Cooney, John Ferry, Bob Kopnicki, Joe McCourt, and Jim Pressman shared their Vietnam experiences with 75 11th-grade history students in a combined program with Millburn High School. Following the classroom presentation, the students and veterans traveled to the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Vietnam Era Educational Center in Holmdel where students placed roses at the memorial's panels listing the names of 13 local men killed in Vietnam. The memorial service concluded with a poetry reading and the playing of "Taps."


The United War Veterans Council of New York County, producers of the New York City Veterans Day Parade, is proud to be affiliated with the producers of an upcoming program, "The History of Veterans Day," for the History Channel. The program will be aired on the History Channel and distributed by the U.S. Department of Education to schools throughout the country. For information, call 212-693-0446 or e-mail

In 2000, Chapter 467 in Fort Smith, Arkansas, obtained a surplus building on the old Fort Chaffee military reservation. After 11 months and $15,000 of improvements and donated equipment, the first meeting was held there in April 2001. In June 2002, the chapter took possession of an M106A2 Mortar Carrier. The carrier had served in Vietnam with the 1st Cavalry Division. In April of this year, the chapter took delivery of an AH-1F Cobra gunship, which saw duty both in Vietnam and the first Persian Gulf War. Both are displayed at the chapter home.

Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Chapter 862 ( ) recently completed a Phone Card Drive. The chapter collected more than $6,000 and hundreds of dollars worth of phone cards for injured troops at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington.

Region 9 Director Darroll Brown conducts a monthly conference call with the state presidents in his region to exchange ideas and solve problems.

The California State Council is developing strategies and tactics to bring about the passage of California Assembly Concurrent Resolution 171. The resolution calls on the Governor to declare March 8, 2005, a day of honor for Vietnam War veterans and to proclaim that the state fly its flags at half-mast that day in honor of Vietnam veterans.

George DeLuca, a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran employed by the New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs, is planning a Veterans Recognition program for November 17. For additional information, contact DeLuca at 973-273-8051 or e-mail


John and Joyce Minor produce The Green Mountain Express, the official publication of Chapter 601 in Bennington, Vermont, which is available at The chapter has an ongoing involvement with the Bennington Battle Day Parade, celebrated each August 16. During the Revolutionary War Battle of Bennington, Brigadier General John Stark and his American forces defeated two detachments of British General John Burgoyne's invading army.

Gary Lillie reports from Ann Arbor, Michigan: "We're on the air and back on the Internet." Veterans Radio can be heard every Sunday from 7-8 p.m. in Ann Arbor on 1600 WAAM-AM Talk Radio or on the internet at  For additional information, go to

John Cutler, editor of Greater Hartford, Connecticut, Chapter 120 Connection, reports the chapter newsletter is available at



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