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

December 2004



Long-time member Ned Foote’s five-year-old grandson Nicholas Maniacek posed in a green, yellow, and red soap box car painted to resemble the Vietnam Service Ribbon. The car was sponsored and built for the National Super Kids Classic by members of Chapter 79 in Queensbury, New York. The cars are designed to hold two drivers with dual controls to allow children with disabilities to participate in events similar to the National Soap Box Derby. The National Super Kids Classic originated with VVA Chapter 34 in Akron and has become a highly recognized national event. Chapter 79 Secretary James Brown said chapter members put in more than sixty hours building the car in the chapter woodworking shop.

Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America member William J. Burkamp, chaplain of Chapter 55 in Newark, Ohio, officiated at services honoring LCPL Joseph Lee Nice, 19, who was killed in Iraq August 4. Members of Chapter 55 ringed the perimeter of the service to demonstrate their respect and honor for a fallen warrior.
Chapter 616 in the Mansfield Correctional Institution was awarded the Ohio Chapter of the Year by the Buckeye State Council for its outstanding record of community service. Bill Homer, staff adviser to the chapter, was presented with Staff Adviser of the Year honors at the same ceremony. 
John “Dutch” DeGroot, a member of Chapter 311 in Wheeling, Illinois, served as an MP in Vietnam in 1969-70. He was attached to the 198th Light Infantry Brigade at Chu Lai. In the 1980s he joined the U.S. Air Force Reserves and periodically found himself deployed with his unit to duty stations around the world. On November 7, DeGroot was honored in the Wisconsin State Capitol Rotunda in Madison with the Wisconsin Military Achievement Award in recognition of his distinguished service. The award was presented to DeGroot by Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle.
Steve Doak, president of Chapter 933 in Fresno, California, was recently notified that Vietnam veterans have been selected to be the Grand Marshals for the 2005 Fresno Veterans Day Parade, commemorating 30 years since the war in Vietnam ended.
The Vietnam Veterans Group in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Ramsey 1 Unit is closely affiliated with San Jacinto Chapter 343 in Houston. The group has produced its first newsletter, The Patriot. Volume I, Issue 1, reports that the group met on September 11 for a memorial service for those killed in the terrorist attacks in 2001. The Communications Committee, which produces the newsletter, includes Peter Saenz, John Larrabee, and John Newman. To be added to the mailing list, call Lynda Greene, Incarcerated Liaison for Chapter 343, at 713-224-1418.
Beaver County Chapter 862 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, has collected more than $5,000 to purchase phone cards for our troops overseas. Chapter President L. Skip Haswell worked with the management at a local Costco store and was able to purchase 600-minute MCI phone cards for about three cents a minute. 
Grandstand Chapter 925 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, donated $1,000 to the Family Readiness Group of the 111th Signal Battalion of the South Carolina National Guard, which is deployed in Iraq. The money was raised in a “Poker Run” sponsored by the chapter. Chapter President Rich Gregory and his 2nd Vice President presented the check. The money will be used to provide holiday gifts for the children and families at home. 
Buffalo, New York, Chapter 77 continues to send packages to troops overseas. The latest shipment of 300 gift packages included soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and candy. Operation Gift Lift began in 1991 during the first Gulf War. Local schoolchildren make greeting cards for the packages. The chapter has received letters and cards from troops stationed throughout the world thanking them for their good work. 

To correspond with someone in the military who is deployed overseas, go to to sign up for this free service. 

Until recently, servicemen and women returning home on leave through Austin- Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas, had no help in obtaining American currency or finding gates to make connecting flights home. Working with airport management, Chapter 915 in Austin established a Welcome Home information booth in the airport. Now returning troops have a resource that provides them with welcoming gifts and all the information they need.
Recently deceased member Darrell Parrott of Alpena, Michigan, Chapter 583 was passionate about the Operation Holidays Foundation, for which he served as program director. The program, begun in 1991, helps needy veteran families in the community. To make a memorial donation to the project, contact Chapter 583 President Wayne Trapp at 989-471-2591.
Port Huron, Michigan, Chapter 284 helped more than 160 families during the holidays last year in Operation Santa Claus and will continue the program this year. To help, contact chapter and state council President Tom Meinhardt at
President Craig McLaren of Chapter 190 at Holman Unit 3700 in Atmore, Alabama, has assembled a power point presentation addressing the skills and abilities of veterans incarcerated. The educational presentation points out that inmates who take advantage of educational opportunities in prison have a lower recidivism rate, and that the leadership skills gained during military service make it much more likely that they will fulfill their motto, “Education Equals Rehabilitation.”
The patients in the Miami, Florida, VA Medical Center are the beneficiaries of a cooperative effort between Miami Chapter 121 and Wal-Mart. Chapter President Bruce McManus, joined by past presidents Eppie Ortiz and Joseph Jorge, presented a plaque to Wal-Mart manager Cheryl Singh in recognition of the significant contributions the store has made to the chapter project. At the presentation Singh said, “Wal-Mart and I are proud to support the men and women of our Armed Forces. Those who are hospitalized continue to pay the price, and they also need to be reminded that Americans care.”
Capitol City Chapter 670 in Columbus, Ohio, joined with Licking County Chapter 55 to host the ceremonies when the Moving Wall came to Columbus in August. The two chapters provided the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the personnel to make sure things went smoothly.
Pat Toro, president of Queens Chapter 32, worked for three years to bring the Moving Wall to Cunningham Park at Fresh Meadows in the New York City borough of Queens in October. Nassau County Chapter 82 joined with Chapter 32 to provide honor guards for the opening and closing ceremonies. U.S. Army Major General Richard Colt, a Vietnam veteran, gave the keynote speech. 
Former Region 1 Director and Vermont State Council President and Bennington, Vermont, Chapter 601 President John Miner has scheduled an appearance of the Moving Wall for July 2005. The state council is making preparations for the event. 
Chapter 512 in Vancouver, Washington, donated $250 to the Vietnam War In Memory Memorial Plaque to help bring this final element of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to reality. The plaque was dedicated in a candlelight ceremony on November 10.
Liberty Bell Chapter 266 in Philadelphia took part in the Philadelphia Stand Down 2004. This year’s event served more than 350 homeless veterans and their families, providing hot meals, clothing, medical exams, and shelter for three days. 
Although the Category 4 hurricane winds, rain, and destruction have ended in Florida, thousands remain homeless or without basic services. VVA members from around the nation have contributed generously to the VVA recovery effort in Florida. The Florida State Council and chapters have crossed the state delivering water, clothing, food, and other much-needed items to those still trying to recover from the four hurricanes. To donate, contact Recovery Coordinator Tom Hall at
Region 3 Director Bruce Whitaker has notified us that Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr., recently signed an Executive Order allowing the spouses of veterans who live in the nursing home for veterans in Charlotte Hall in St. Mary’s County to move into that facility.
Chicago/Northwest Suburban Chapter 311 in Des Plaines, Illinois, held a unique Veterans Day commemoration by showing the award-winning documentary Be Good, Smile Pretty by Tracy Droz Tragos. Tragos received a VVA President’s Award at the National Convention in St. Louis.



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