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

September/October 2005


Hill Country, Texas, Chapter 863 held a barbeque and fundraiser in June at the VA Medical Center in Kerrville, Texas. The chapter provided free meals to 79 patients and sold dinners to employees (at a discount) and to the general public. The event raised some $1,500, which will be used to support the chapter honor guard.

In June, members of Chicago Northwest Chapter 209 sponsored a “Bowling for Noah” fundraiser for two-year-old Noah Petersen, the grandson of chapter member Ronald R. Petersen. The chapter has raised some $60,000 to date for medical bills for Noah, who has hydrocephalus.

Chicago Northwest Chapter 209 member Jim Proffitt and his wife, Virginia, an AVVA member, collected 12 large teddy bears and donated them to the Wheaton, Illinois, Police Department. The bears will be used by police officers to help comfort children they encounter who have been involved in accidents, domestic violence, and other difficult situations. The Proffitts also donated 20 boxes of clothing, school supplies, food, and toys to the Wounded Knee and Lakota Sioux Indian reservations in South Dakota.

Chapter 55, Newark, Ohio, members Gary Jones, Lee Fisher, and Dong Ha Gaskins spoke at ceremonies in May at Geller Park in Heath, Ohio, commemorating the end of the Vietnam War. The ceremonies included a tree planting to commemorate the continuity of life. On Memorial Day, chapter members took part in the Newark Memorial Day parade, which included ceremonies at Cedar Cemetery. On Flag Day, June 14, the chapter respectfully burned some 500 American flags. The chapter also marched and entered a float in the Granville July 4th Parade.

Sheri Corona and Kathleen Ryan of Rochester, New York, Chapter 20 worked with VA personnel on Operation Welcome Home, which was held at the VA Outpatient Clinic in Rochester in June. Many chapter members also helped out with the clinic’s Flag Day and golf tournament fundraisers, including three foursomes of chapter members who played in the tournament. One highlight: Big Wally Gekoski sinking two 30-foot putts.

Many members of Oahu, Hawaii, Chapter 858 took part in the annual Kailua Town Independence Day Parade. That included Ray Santana, Mel Falcon, and Carl Meier, who carried the VVA banner; Kenn Sprague, Damon Aka, Garey Lester, Robert Coughlan, and Bryan Pilago, who carried flags; and marchers Gene Ishiri, Joey Nater, Tom Stirling, Luis Parker, Michael Parker, Allen Hoe, Rona Adams, and Mike Mindoro. AVVA member Dorina Badgett supplied members with cold water along the route.

Members of Chapter 751 in Lawton, Oklahoma, have heeded the call to show support for American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by wearing red on Fridays. The chapter has purchased red hats for members with the logo “We Support Our Troops.”

Members Roz Bryant, Robert Taylor, Darrel Smith, Bill Connolly, Paul Ruh, and Richard LaBarre of
Columbia, South Carolina, Chapter 303 held a cookout in July at the Alston Wilkes Veterans Facility in Columbia for the veterans who live at the facility. Darrel Smith did the cooking. Chapter members sponsored an ice cream social at the Dorn VA Medical Center later in the month. And the chapter’s Sergeant at Arms, Robert Taylor, purchased an American flag and a POW/MIA flag to replace the worn flags at Columbia’s Memorial Park.

Wolf G. Biedenfeld, the president of San Jacinto Chapter 343 in Houston, received the Grand Lodge of Texas A.F. and A.M. (Masonic) Community Builder Award in June. Biedenfeld’s service includes seven years with the U.S. Postal Service, 20 years with the U.S. Public Health Service, seven years with the Texas Employment Commission, and nine with the Texas Veterans Commission. He served for 29 years in the military, including active duty, National Guard, and Army Reserve. In addition to his work with VVA, Biedenfeld volunteers with the Boys Scouts and his church.

AVVA member Kerry Ehrhart of Ocean County, New Jersey, Chapter 855 has designed a Vietnam Service Ribbon women’s bracelet made from Australian crystal, and the chapter has been selling the bracelets at New Jersey State Council meetings. For information on how to order one, call 856-810-3743.

James Gregory, the president of Charleston, South Carolina, Chapter 780, and two other chapter members attended a memorial service for Gen. William Westmoreland in downtown Charleston. “The event was well attended, with many local military and political leaders, and an honor guard representing each service,” Gregory said. “No matter what your thoughts may be, one must give credit to an old warrior who fought in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.”

London, Ohio, Chapter 746 held its ninth annual Military Ball in April. The chapter honors a veteran’s family every year at the event, and this year six members of the Theil family were the special guests. John E. Theil of London, who received two Purple Hearts and the Silver and Bronze Stars serving with the Army’s First Infantry Division in Vietnam, was killed in action on December 8, 1967. “He was credited with maintaining radio reports while under fire and repelling a Viet Cong contingent single-handedly,” said his brother Ben, who attended the ball.

Members of Chicago/Northwest Suburban Chapter 311 raised more than $3,000 at this year’s one-day Flag Tag Day Sale held on July 1 at three big intersections in Des Plaines. More than twenty members and volunteers worked an 11-hour day, led by Chapter President Brian Mulcrone, Vice President Jim Johnson, and Treasurer Paul Kobeluch.


At the June 11 Florida State Council meeting, three $500 scholarships were awarded. The recipients were John Gunter IV from Melbourne, Lacey Smith from Dunedin, and Monica Cerra of Clearwater. All three will be attending colleges in Florida this year and are dependents of disabled Vietnam veterans.

Chapter 351, Appleton, Wisconsin, presented scholarships in May to students at Neenah and Appleton West High Schools. The recipients were graduating seniors Nicole Krejcarek and Stephanie Jacklin. Upon completion of their first semesters in college with a 2.65 GPA or higher, each will receive a $1,000 check.

St. Paul, Minnesota, Chapter 320 awarded 14 scholarships in August. The recipients of the $250 scholarships were: Thomas Anderson, Margaret Crowley, Christ Flaherty, Rachel Funk, James Helstrom, Graham Jensen, Jack Kurkowski, Maria Kyser, Scott Kyser, Brady McMahon, Garret Munson, Megan Munson, Marilu Urbanski, and Phil Wacker.

Peace Dale, Rhode Island, Chapter 325, under the leadership of Chapter President Bob Barber, awarded six scholarships this year to seniors from area high schools. The annual program has awarded more than $35,000 in scholarships since it began in 1991.


For the second straight year, the Florida State Council presented two Teacher of the Year awards. The recipient of the Teacher of the Year 2005, K-8 Division was James Pustay, a Vietnam veteran who teaches at West Shore Junior/Senior High School in Melbourne. His 8th-grade program focuses on “Patriotism and the Vietnam War.” Ross Webster, recipient of the Teacher of the Year 2005, High School Division, teaches an elective course, “History of the Vietnam War,” at Blake High School in Tampa. His students record the oral histories of Vietnam veterans in Hillsborough County. Webster has developed a curriculum that captures students’ interest. Students also read novels about the Vietnam War.

Three members of Washtenaw County, Michigan, Chapter 310, Phil Hecker, Pete Belaire, and George Perrault, attended the annual patriotic concert and Salute to Veterans put on in June by the second grade students of Cornerstone Elementary School in Dexter.


The Merced County, California, Parks and Recreation Department has approved the application by Chapter 691 to add a light pole beside a palm tree that sits inside the Merced County Veterans Memorial in Courthouse Park. The chapter will cover the cost of the pole.

Members of Chapter 82, Hicksville, New York, took part in ceremonies in April when the Traveling Wall made a visit to Marjorie R. Post Community Park in Massapequa. That included past President Paul Masi, newly elected President Carl Johnson, 1st Vice President Joe Ingino, and Francisco Muniz. Ingino and Muniz escorted Florence Torres to the spot on The Wall where the name of her father, Army Spec. 4 Walter J. Carney, is inscribed. Johnson and Masi escorted Dawn Kellams to the panel where the name of her father, SSgt. Glennis G. Kellams, is engraved. In June, 11 chapter members went to Washington, D.C., to visit wounded troops from Iraq at Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Members of Chapter 550, Sacramento Valley, California, contributed generously to the repair of the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the State Capitol grounds. Chapter President Ted Adams has been standing guard at the Memorial—the repairs were needed after vandals defaced it—and reports that all the new lighting has been restored.



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