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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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,
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
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.