A publication of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

December 1999/January 2000

Membership Notes

A VVA Staff Report

MEMORIALS

Mary Yeomans reports that Chapter 814 in Ocala, Florida , helped dedicate the Florida Medal of Honor Park on POW/MIA Recognition Day. Chapter 814 was the driving force behind the memorial, which honors all state recipients of the Medal of Honor. The featured speaker was Kimberly Thomas-Bowles of Sons and Daughters In Touch.

Anoka County, Minnesota, Chapter 470 dedicated a memorial to Vietnam veterans at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. The chapter raised most of the funds and developed the design of the plaque.

A memorial plaque, "In Honor of Those Men Who Valiantly Gave Their Lives for the Cause of Freedom in Vietnam," was rededicated in October in Huber Heights, Ohio. A color guard from Miami Valley Chapter 97 in Dayton, Ohio , participated in the ceremony, which placed the bronze plaque at the townís new fire station. The memorial originally was dedicated October 2, 1969, making it one of the oldest Vietnam veterans memorials in the country. The plaque was rescued from the back of a dump truck by a firefighter, himself a Desert Storm veteran, when the old station was demolished in 1995.

Chapter 701 in Spanish Fort, Alabama , dedicated the Alabama Wall Of Honor at the Alabama Vietnam Veterans Memorial in November. A sculpture, <I>Remembering , was unveiled as part of the ceremony at the Battleship <I>Alabama Memorial Park in Mobile.

Genesee County, Michigan, Chapter 175 recently received a $5,000 check from the Genesee County Board of Commissioners to help retire the debt for the <I>Reflections monument.

A color guard consisting of Ron Clark, Roger Kelhofer, Vern Nelson, Bill Falkner, Tom Sachs, and chapter president Gary Schoenborn of Central Wisconsin Chapter 101 helped dedicate a veterans mural at Nekoosa High School on Veterans Day.

Memorial trees in Eisenhower Park, sponsored by Nassau County Chapter 82 in Hicksville, New York , are being cared for by Merrick Boy Scout Troop 225. The scouts volunteered to maintain the trees, which were planted in memory of chapter members who have died.

The Moving Wall, The Wall That Heals, and The Vietnam Wall Experience--half-scale replicas of the <I>Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington--are touring the country. In October, The Moving Wall was in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Michael J. Bost Chapter 18 took part in activities. Also in October, The Wall That Heals was at St. Helenís Catholic Church in Shively, Kentucky, where Kentuckiana Chapter 454 sponsored the observances. It also was presented in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, in October where Delaware County Chapter 67 participated in the ceremonies. Coatesville, Pennsylvania, Chapter 436 hosted The Wall That Heals at Chester University in November as part of a campus Vietnam War Era theme. San Jacinto Chapter 343 hosted The Moving Wall at the University of Houston during Veterans Day week activities, and Chapter 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada , sponsored it in December.

CHILDREN

Dave Thomson, a U.S. History teacher at Burbank High in California, was a boy when he obtained a POW bracelet with the name of U.S. Air Force Capt. Harold Eugene Johnson. Thomson wore the bracelet until Johnsonís release after six years as a POW. Thomson showed the bracelet to his students and told them that one day he would like to meet Johnson. His students located Johnson, now mayor of Blacksburg, Iowa, through a POW database. Using their own money, the students arranged for Johnson to fly to California to meet Thomson in a surprise reunion.

SCHOLARSHIPS

Westchester County, New York, Chapter 49 handed out $1,250 worth of scholarships to the children of veterans. Receiving $500 scholarship awards were Andrea Cropper, Michael Singerman, and Erin McGill. Matthew Serge, Maureen My, and Michelle Morganthaler were presented $250 scholarships.

Baltimore Chapter 451 recently awarded four scholarships from two different programs. Recipients of the Thomas A. Dolan Memorial Scholarship were Tiffany Fernald, Cheryl Belcastro, and Lynn Langrall. Langrall is the daughter of chapter member Dennis Langrall, who was a classmate of Dolanís. Margaret Campbell was awarded the Vernon Z. Johns Memorial Scholarship.

EDUCATION

Members of Robert E. Wheelock Memorial Chapter 327 in Stanhope, New Jersey , made their semiannual visit to Roxbury High School November 10 to talk to students about the Vietnam War. The nationally recognized program was presented by member Chris Wilkens.

Joseph A. Haran, Jr., of the Stephen F. Worley Chapter 391 in Portland, Oregon , joined other veterans who addressed students at Milwaukie High School November 10. He talked about his work with the U.S. Air Force Security Service. The event, which also included an address by former Oregon Sen. Mark Hatfield, ended with a student-staged, USO-type show featuring impersonators of former USO celebrities.

Thomas St. Onge Chapter 571 in Hermansville, Michigan, has designed an historical-awareness program for high school students. The program includes slides, music, artifacts, and personal reflections of Vietnam veterans. The chapter hopes the lessons of Vietnam will benefit future generations.

DONATIONS

Allenhurst, New Jersey, Chapter 12 donated $100 to the Lyons PTSD group to help rent a bus so that clients can travel to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. The chapter also donated a VCR to the Menlo Park Veterans Home.

Chapter 499 in New Bedford, Massachusetts , held its last Poppy Drive of the year in November to raise funds for a turkey giveaway to needy veterans during Thanksgiving.

Toledo, Ohio, Chapter 35 donated clothing to a community-based womenís shelter.

This Veterans Day, the Leavenworth, Kansas, parade had 129 marching units. Among the Chapter 75 representatives were Curt Williams and Gary Auchard. International officers from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Spain, and Turkey were among the spectators. Sarah Williams, daughter of LTC Floyd and Major Denise Miner-Williams, carried the flag as part of the Leavenworth Jr. High School JROTC. "My feet are tired, but it was worth it," said Wiliams, 14. "It was an honor to be able to present the colors in the parade." In September, Chapter 75 member Mike Crow spoke at The Moving Wall which was at Reusch VFW Memorial Park in Tonganoxie.

Chapter 824, Elizabethton, Tennesee, sold hot dogs to raise money for the World War II Memorial Fund. The daylong event at the local Wal-Mart raised over $500.

KEEP ON ROCKINí IN THE FREE WORLD

VETROCK 2000, set for June 10 in Bennington, Vermont, at Green Mountain Park Raceway, received a write-up in the <I>Bennington Banner . Region 1 Director John Miner of Bennington Chapter 601 said the drug- and alcohol-free event would raise money to benefit Vermont veterans. The concert has been endorsed by the Pownal Select Board.

HONORS

Firefighter Richard "Dick" DíImperio, a member of Rochester, New York, Chapter 20 , was selected by the Rochester Safety Council of the Greater Rochester Metro Chamber of Commerce to receive the prestigious Michael Sadden Award at a recent chamber luncheon. The award is the highest the city bestows on an individual.

Stanley "Jack" Holloway lost his military decorations in a home fire several years ago. Bluffton, Indiana, Chapter 698 helped Holloway recover the decorations, including a Bronze Star, and they were presented to him during a ceremony on December 13 at the Wells County Courthouse, next to the Wells County Vietnam Veterans Wall of Honor.

STAND DOWN

Miss America, Heather Renee French, visited the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services booth at the Columbus Veterans Stand Down. French, who is the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, is devoting her one-year reign to homeless veterans. Some five hundred veterans attended the stand down, which offered health, medical, and employment services to vets and their families.

Thomas Moore Memorial Chapter 544 in Augusta, Georgia , took part in Stand Down í99 at the VA Medical Center in November.

In September, more than 750 veterans from around the state converged on the Rocky Hill VA Medical Center in Connecticut to take part in a stand down. Members of Greater Hartford Chapter 120 volunteered many hours to insure the success of the annual event.

A four-day stand down was held early in October at Camp Parks in Dublin, California. After receiving showers, haircuts, and clothing, the Bay Area veterans took advantage of the many services provided by the VA, Department of Motor Vehicles, Employment Development Department, and the Contra Costa County Veterans Service Office. Members of Santa Rosa Chapter 223 helped out during the event.

HOSPITALIZED VETERANS

Sixty-five residents of the Southeastern Veterans Center in Spring City, Pennsylvania, were treated to a hot dog and hamburger picnic sponsored by Upper Bucks/Lower Lehigh, Quakertown Chapter 468 . The veterans represented World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. They enjoyed homemade salads and baked goods.

ANAHEIM CONVENTION COVERAGE

Las Vegas, Nevada, Chapter 17 devoted nearly all of its post-convention issue to Anaheim Ď99. <I>The Perimeter Guard included thirteen pages of photographs from the convention, ranging from the moving POW ceremony to a shot of Board member Jerry Klein in Mickey Mouse ears.

VETERANS HELPING VETERANS

Elaine Rinaldi, wife of former Brooklyn, New York, Chapter 72 President John C. Rinaldi, was diagnosed on Motherís Day with a grave illness. She and John have been traveling to the University of Arkansas in Little Rock for treatment. The prognosis is that after nine months of treatment Elaine will be cured.

In a letter to VVA president George Duggins, Rinaldi said: "During this course in time, you know how the bills can add up. In the summer, we received a Get Well Soon card from my fellow members of Chapter 721 and it contained a note stating: `Hereís a little something to start you on your way.í Included was a check from them. This touched our hearts dearly. We are new residents of this state, and my wife said, ĎHere are complete strangers willing to help us.í I told her that they helped us as a veteran and his family in a time of need, and that is a great part of what our organization is about. Once again, I want to thank my brothers and sisters of Chapter 721, Keyport, New Jersey , with all my heart."

ODDS AND ENDS

Members of Chapter 511 in Athens, Alabama , took part in a cotton picking contest recently. Rickey Knowles, Dannie Gilliam, Raymond Phelps, Jim Watson, Mike Davis, and Hank Cobb picked cotton by hand. The Veterans Museum was the beneficiary of the money raised during the event.

Chapter 731, Manitowoc, Wisconsin , held its fifth annual Gold Star Mothers Memorial Service and Banquet September 16. The service honored Manitowoc County men who perished in the Vietnam War. Many Gold Star families attended. The banquetís special guest was Jennie Diefenthaler, a Gold Star Mother of a World War II veteran. The chapter helped her celebrate her 103rd birthday.

Members of Chapter 800 in East Rutherford, New Jersey , joined with members of Chapter 688 in Westfield to defeat the Lyons VA Hospital PTSD unit in baseball. The victory was the second in a row for the blended team. Joe McCourt (Chapter 688) and Tom Wojciehowicz (Chapter 800) accepted the trophy on behalf of their chapters. The Chapter 800 Color Guard also participated in the Miss America Parade in Atlantic City in September and presented the colors at a New York Mets game at Shea Stadium in October.

Chapter 272 in Greenville, North Carolina , has established a Disaster Relief Fund for VVA members in North Carolina who were victims of Hurricane Floyd. Northwestern Vermont Chapter 753 in St. Albans, Vermont , donated $100 to the fund and encouraged its membership to make individual contributions.

The members of Incarcerated Affiliate Chapter 343, Ramsey I Unit in Rosharon, Texas , have donated two paintings to the Veterans Affairs Regional Office in Houston and another to Brother Bob Gibsonís Camp Stand Down Halfway House. The artwork was created by veteran inmates at the facility.

Texarkana, Texas, Chapter 278 has reopened its pantry thrift store. Clothing, furniture, household goods, and just about anything else is accepted. Proceeds are split evenly between the chapter and the Randy Sams Shelter for the Homeless.

New York City Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi received the first Certificate of Appreciation from New York Civil Service Employees Chapter 823 from chapter president John McGovern. The recognition was given in appreciation of Hevesiís support of veterans, including allowing the chapter to use his board room for monthly meetings and the annual Veterans Recognition Celebration each November. The keynote speaker at the event was former New York governor Hugh L. Carey.

In 1983, World War II veteran Edward Kos was diagnosed with Parkinsonís Disease, a debilitating illness that destroys the nerve cells in the brain. Kos lived with the disease until his death in 1996. Earlier this year, his daughter Donna embarked on a coast-to-coast bicycle ride to draw attention to the disease. During her 69-day, 3,174-mile journey from Loma Linda, California, to St. Augustine, Florida, Kos met with veterans suffering from the disease. Additional information on Parkinsonís Disease can be found at: www.parkinsonspower.org/donna.html

An honor guard from Quad Cities Chapter 299 in Rock Island, Illinois , attended the dedication ceremonies for the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elmwood. The 982-acre site will have burial space for 400,000 veterans and dependents.

Bingo games at the Osceola County Chapter 755 in Kissimmee, Florida , have filled the coffers of the chapter scholarship fund. The chapter will donate the rest of the yearís profits to Special Olympics.

Norma Ost and her daughter visited Vietnam this past spring. While there, they saw the Cu Chi Tunnels, where they purchased a dog tag from a local vendor. Wanting to know if the veteran named on the tag, Vincent M. Esposito, was alive or dead, she sought the help of Dennis Beauregard, president of Chapter 12 in Allenhurst, New Jersey . She learned that the veteran was indeed alive and residing in New York. With assistance from Empire State veterans Jerry Klein, Ron Powers, and Connie Steers, Esposito was located. On September 13, Esposito called Ost and the two spoke for over an hour.

Chapter 53 in Redondo Beach, California , spent its annual Commitment Day in November helping out at the Kenny Nickelson Memorial Foundation Care Day.

New Orleans Chapter 384 took part in the annual "Christmas in October" program. The project is sponsored by the Preservation Resource Center/Operation Comeback and provides assistance to elderly homeowners who are unable or without the financial resources to make necessary repairs to their homes.

West Shore Chapter 249 in Bay Village, Ohio , held a clambake in October. For $20, partygoers feasted on clams, chicken, corn on the cob, and potatoes. Those who didnít care for clams enjoyed steak.

Chapter 691 in Merced, California , had an information booth at the Indian Pow Wow at Castle Park in October. The event is held at the Castle Air Force Base, which once was the primary training facility for B-52 crews.

Itís not too early to begin thinking about LZ Bluegrass 2000. The twelfth annual event will be held May 19-21 at Capitol Plaza in Frankfurt, Kentucky. For information, contact Joe and Lisa Humphrey at 502-449-3113 or Mike "Hoss" Cartwright at 502-223-5806.

Chapter 628 in Princeton, West Virginia , served over five hundred people at its annual Veterans Day Dinner for veterans and their families. This yearís event was a salute to World War II veterans. In conjunction with the event, the chapter donated $2,000 to the national World War II memorial.

Over one hundred people were served a Veterans Day dinner sponsored by Chapter 726 at the Polk Correctional Institution in Florida. Underwritten by funds from the chapterís Friends group, the event included guest speakers Chaplain A. Al-Khatib and retired correctional officer Timothy B. Kauffman, who received the Legion of Honor Award. Other awards were presented to Major E. A. Williams, John Tidwell, and Terry Faddis, the chapter president.

Brigadier Gordon Jones, the Australian attache in Washington, D.C., spoke to members of Northern Virginia Chapter 227 . Jones served in Vietnam as a Corporal in the Australian Army. Chapter members Len Funk, Len Ignatowski, Jonathan Olson, and Bob Tecklenburg attended the Veterans Day program at the Alexandria Black History Resource Center. The program traced the history of African-Americans in the U.S. military from the Civil War to Desert Storm.

 

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