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

November/December 2005
MEMBERSHIP NOTES
 



IN SERVICE

VVA National Secretary Barry Hagge represented VVA’s national officers and Board of Directors at the Gold Star Mothers’ Dinner held September 25 at Fort Myer, Virginia. Also in attendance were AVVA National President Mary Miller; Mike Najarian, Vice President of Silver Spring, Maryland, Chapter 641; chapter member (and VVA Government Relations Director) Rick Weidman; and Pennsylvania State Council President Jeff White.

National President John Rowan provided the refreshments for a reception held at the Gold Star Mothers’ home in Washington the following afternoon. A good contingent of members of Chester, Pennsylvania, Chapter 67 were on hand, as was the Honor Guard from Chapter 451 in Baltimore.

Members of Liberty Bell Chapter 266 in Philadelphia participated in the Philadelphia Stand Down, September 9-11, at Lighthouse Field. The theme was “Veterans Helping Veterans: A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out.” Chapter members and friends helped homeless and in-need veterans and their families at the event with meals, employment assistance, medical help, drug and alcohol treatment information, veterans’ benefits information, legal advice, and just plain friendly conversation.

Ted Adams, president of Sacramento Valley Chapter 500, led a large contingent of chapter members, AVVA members, and friends who manned a display table set up in the middle of the heavily trafficked food court at the California State Fair, August 25. Chapter Executive Director Mary Lou McNeill and members Chip Fong, Jerry Quint, Joe Feirl, Bill Wagner, Greg McNeill, Patrick Boltinghouse, Karen Winnett, Kris Hollinger, Grace Calles, David Dutton, and Lorna Greiss, among others, took part in spreading the word about VVA at the all-day, all-night fair.

Chattanooga, Tennessee, Chapter 203 helped out in the formation of a new VVA chapter in Athens, Tennessee, at a membership drive held October 7-8 at the Athens Wal-Mart. Among other things, the event featured The Tennessee Wall of Vietnam Veterans. The Wall lists the names of all Tennessee residents who lost their lives in the Vietnam War, along with the 42 Tennessee natives still listed as Missing In Action.

Lee Cornfield Chapter 862 in Freedom, Pennsylvania, and its AVVA affiliates sponsored a Support Our Troops Rally at the Riverfront Stage in Rochester, Pennsylvania, on September 24. Among the attendees were 9th Infantry Division veterans, who were in town for a reunion organization meeting.

Santa Rosa, California, Chapter 223 gained 15 new members and sold a slew of VVA products at the Sonoma County Wings Over Wine Country Air Show August 20-21 at the Charles M. Shulz-Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa. Jerry Shimmel, John Crooker, Kate O’Hare Palmer, Judy Crooker, Pat Jones, Jim Mordaci, and Dennis Harlan manned the booth.

Genesee County Chapter 175, Flint, Michigan, held its ninth annual benefit concert September 28 at the Grand Blanc Middle School gymnasium. The featured attraction was the much-honored vocal group, The Vogues. Members of the community supported the event through ticket sales and by purchasing an ad in the chapter’s Vietnam Veterans’ Heritage Program book that was distributed to everyone at the show.

Wieland C. Norris Chapter 844 in El Paso, Texas, co-hosted a party in August for wounded troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan recuperating at Fort Bliss. Nearly one hundred troops and family members took part in the event. Door prizes were donated by local businesses. Chapter members served food and talked with the troops welcoming them home.

Northern Virginia Chapter 227 members heard from VVA Veteran Arts Editor (and chapter member) Marc Leepson, who gave a talk at the October 20 chapter meeting on his new book, Flag: An American Biography, a history of the American flag.

Chapter 311 Chicago/Northwest Suburban member Dick Klopp and his wife, Ann, gathered 26 bags of men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing that had been left over from a church rummage sale. They will donate and deliver the whole lot to local homeless shelters. Last Memorial Day, chapter members, including Bill Christiansen, John Maloney, James Johnson, and chapter President Brian Mulcrone, took part in ceremonies in DesPlains, Illinois, honoring Peter J. Giannopoulos, who was killed in Iraq. Giannopoulos’ name was engraved on the DesPlaines Veterans Memorial, which honors all veterans from the city who have been killed in action since the Civil War.

Buffalo, N.Y., Chapter 77 President Patrick Welch and member Tom Konopka were featured in a recent article in the Buffalo edition of the Business First newspaper about veterans and employment. Konopka has helped three veterans of the current war in Iraq secure employment as part of the chapter’s efforts in Western New York. The chapter has developed a network of resources to help veterans start or expand their businesses or to find a job. The network includes the Small Business Development Center at Buffalo State College, the Women’s Business Center at Canisius College, the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs, and the federal Small Business Administration.

VVA Chapter 458 in St. Peters, Missouri, won its fifth Peoples Choice Award in the last seven years at the Missouri State Chili Cookoff in September. The chili-cooking chapter members, known as the “Rice Paddy Chili Team,” were led by past Chapter President Sheldon Hartsfield. The Cookoff, which benefits the National Kidney Foundation, had more than 80 teams competing this year. The chapter also received a plaque from the Kidney Foundation for raising the most money at the 2004 Cookoff through sponsorship solicitations from local businesses. Following its tradition, the chapter returned the monetary prize that accompanies the Peoples Choice award.

New Hampshire State Council President Ray Goulet, with the help of, among others, State Council Treasurer Dick Rambeau, recently restored his three-quarter ton military vehicle. The truck, with its “VVA” license plate, has been a boon in helping recruit new members during its many appearances in parades and ceremonies throughout the Granite State.

Memphis, Tennessee, Chapter 875 donates Teddy Bears twice each year to the Memphis Child Advocacy Center, which serves children who are victims of sexual and severe physical abuse. In September, Chapter President Ed Stutler reports, the chapter sent 200 bears.

POW/MIA

Incarcerated Chapter 616 at the Mansfield, Ohio, Correctional Institution joined with several other groups including the National League of POW/MIA Families, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, and Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians to honor America’s POW/MIAs on September 16. Bill Homer, Ohio State Council Associate of the Year, represented the chapter at the event at Jacobs Field in Cleveland. Joe Jennings, the State Council’s executive director, represented VVA at the on-field presentations on POW/MIA Remembrance Night.

Central Minnesota Chapter 290 in St. Cloud, Minnesota, held its annual ten-hour vigil September 16, National POW/MIA Recognition Day, at that city’s Minnesota Veterans Plaza, which is located near the VA Medical Center. The event began with opening ceremonies at 10:00 a.m. and ended at 8:00 that evening.

Rochester, New York, Chapter 20 POW/MIA chair Gail Bologna-Melens organized a September 10 Candlelight Vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park, in which chapter members read the names of Vietnam War POW/MIAs while holding lit candles signifying beacons of light to show the way home. Chapter 20 held ceremonies at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., on POW/MIA Remembrance Day.

Merced, California, Chapter 691 members and the chapter Color Guard took part in the annual POW/MIA ceremony September 16 at the veterans memorials in Merced’s Courthouse Park. That same day Chapter President Ed Mentz and Color Guard Captain Robert Gamez attended the dedication ceremonies at the new National POW/MIA Memorial located at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.

Kentuckiana Chapter 454 in Louisville, Kentucky, served as the host for the annual POW/MIA Candlelight Service September 25 at Highland Memory Gardens. Chapter President Bob Keller addressed the gathering, which included special guest Myrtle Martin, a Gold Star Mother whose son’s remains were returned after 25 years and buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

HURRICANE RELIEF

San Jacinto Chapter 343 in Houston postponed its September meeting for a week so that chapter members could take advantage of an opportunity to raise funds for the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. “We anticipate the demand for assistance from the chapter to increase dramatically as a result of the relocation of veterans to Southeast Texas,” said Chapter Secretary Carlos Uresti. “Consequently, our members will be working concessions at Rice Stadium on the regular meeting date so we can improve our ability to serve our fellow veterans in need.”

Chapter 292 in Beaumont, Texas, received a truckload of supplies donated by members and supporters of Kansas City, Missouri, Chapter 317 delivered by chapter members Randy Barnett and J.D. Wright. The supplies were put on a trailer that took off to aid the relief effort in Kenner, Louisiana, led by VVA Region 7 director Allen Manuel and VVA Meeting Planner Wes Guidry. The chapter also has collected donations—including funds from VVA National and from other Texas VVA chapters—to purchase additional relief supplies. “It is wonderful to see VVA’s efforts coming together like this for the benefit of our neighbors in distress,” said Chapter 292 President Kerwin Stone.

Members of Tampa Bay, Florida, Chapter 787 and Zephyrhills, Florida, Chapter 195 put together a convoy of four pick-up trucks and one SUV carrying four trailers full of donated supplies that went from Tampa to Mississippi and Alabama to aid hurricane victims. The convoy spent one night at the home of Tallahasee, Florida, Chapter 96 where it was joined by two 40-foot semi trailers filled with supplies sent from the VVA hurricane relief distribution center run by Chapter 671 in Savannah, Georgia.

Martha Green, a member of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Chapter 65, spent a week doing volunteer work with victims of Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast. Green was part of a group organized by actress Connie Stevens that delivered canned goods, food staples, clothes, diapers, and other items to those in need in Waveland, Bay St. Louis, and Pass Christian, Mississippi.

Members of Memphis, Tennessee, Chapter 875 spent three weeks collecting donations for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Donated items were stored in a tractor trailer donated by Auto Zone, which was stationed in the parking lot of the Ridgeway Baptist Church, where the chapter holds its meetings. Chapter Secretary Gary Newport drove the church bus filled with members to New Iberia, Louisiana, where members and associates, working with members of Chapter 141 in Lafayette, helped unload the truck and distributed the items.

SCHOLARSHIPS

Tonawanda, New York, Chapter 77 received 90 applications for its first Peter P. Tycz II Memorial Scholarships. The chapter awarded scholarships totaling $3,000 to 12 high school seniors: Kaitlyn Bishara, Michael Christopher, Jessica Curry, Allison Hojnowski, Jessica Kroecker, Rosellen Marohn, Sarah K. Marsh, Sarah Oliver, Michael Rozyczko, Robert Simmington, Ryan Smith, and Nicole Witman. The scholarships were established to honor the memory of SFC Peter Tycz, a U.S. Army Special Forces SFC from Tonawanda, who lost his life during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Bergen County Chapter 800 in East Rutherford, N.J., presented four scholarships to college-bound high school seniors in 2005. The recipients were Amanda Nohavec, who will attend Boston University; Charmaine Runte, East Stroudsburg University; Steve Lahullier, William Paterson University; and Brad Marquart, Lockhaven University.

MEMORIALS

Members of Western Massachusetts Chapter One-Eleven in Springfield, Mass., including the chapter Rifle Squad and Color Guard, took part in the recent dedication of a plaza in Ashford, Connecticut, honoring those missing in action in the Vietnam War from the state of Connecticut. The plaza was created by chapter member Darrell Chaloult. Chapter member Dave Hardaker presented a plaque that he had made to the family member of a 101st Airborne Division veteran still listed as missing. Member Larry White read a poem that he wrote for the occasion.

Fifteen cyclists from Appleton, Wisconsin, Area Chapter 351 took part in the 21st annual Highground Bicycle Tour, August 11-14. This event benefits the Highground Veterans Memorial Park in Neillsville, which pays tributes to Vietnam veterans, WWI and WWII veterans, women veterans, and families of those who served.

Members of Racine, Wisconsin, Chapter 767 hosted a visit from the Moving Wall, September 10-15. More than 40,000 people showed up during the six days to view the memorial. Chapter members also participated in a Silent March in Union Grove on September 16, National POW/MIA Recognition Day.


 

   

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