Vietnam Veterans of America
Membership Notes, July/August 2020
Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of Brooklyn’s traditional Memorial Day Parade, Thomas P. Coughlin Memorial Chapter 72 in Brooklyn decided to go ahead with a cars-only parade through the borough on May 25. After getting permission from the Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade Committee and the local NYPD precinct, and cooperation from the Brooklyn VA Medical Center police, the chapter organized a Memorial Day Caravan. It ended with a drive though the VA campus, and concluded with a ceremony at the chapter’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was dedicated in 2016 near the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Purple Heart Memorial. Chapter members briefly exited their vehicles, held a wreath-laying ceremony, and rendered a hand salute—while keeping proper social distancing.
“For all who participated this was a very successful and meaningful event,” said Chapter President Danny Friedman. “We had over thirty vehicles. After 152 consecutive years of Brooklyn honoring our fallen heroes, it wouldn’t be right to just sit back and go online to pay a tribute. Especially during these trying times it was important to make a statement that Brooklyn will never forget who gave their all so that we could be here today.
“And because of these trying times it was dually important to end our caravan and have our ceremony at the Brooklyn VA Hospital to pay homage to our veterans lost to this pandemic, as well as those brave and dedicated health workers fighting to save every life they can. Those who joined us have our thanks for venturing out into the great unknown. It was, in fact, a great day.”
Chapter 72 also has been providing lunch for health workers at the Brooklyn VAMC every other Friday since soon after the pandemic hit.
Southwestern Pennsylvania Chapter 862’s solemn Memorial Day ceremony can be viewed here. “There was no exhilarating parade or cheers from crowds lining the streets,” Kathleen Muller reported. “But the VVA 862 Color Guard quietly carried out the event on May 15th at the memorial near the Beaver County Court House. There was a poignant patriotism about the ceremony, even with masks and distancing. Although surrounded by a terrible pandemic, the Color Guard’s spirits remained high.”
On April 1, Miami Valley Chapter 97 in Dayton, Ohio, provided a free lunch to forty-four medical personnel administering coronavirus testing at the University of Dayton Arena. The program began two weeks earlier with workers testing patients with physicians’ orders for a COVID-19 test. The chapter arranged the meal through a local Olive Garden, which delivered and served the food to the workers in the arena’s parking lot. “The workers were extremely appreciative of the lunch and came out from under the tents to give a wave of thanks to veterans,” said Chapter 97 Director Stephen Ratcliffe. “A note was attached to each lunch, thanking the medical personnel for their brave, dedicated service during the pandemic.”
Although Queens, New York, Chapter 32 [website] has ceased all in-person activities and operations during the New York City coronavirus lockdown, it still has continued working since early April to support its community. The chapter donated sandwiches and soft drinks to two local NYPD precincts, the 104th in Glendale/Ridgewood/Middle Village, and the 112th in Forest Hills.
The chapter also is working with New York State Assemblyman Mike Miller, encouraging members who need hand-sanitizer refills to bring their own bottles to his office in Woodhaven. It also has held board meetings via Zoom and is encouraging other VVA chapters to use similar online services during the pandemic.
On May 20, Utah State Council President Dennis Howland received the Daughters of the American Revolution Service to Veterans Outstanding Volunteer Veterans State Award at the replica Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Layton, Utah. Howland, an at-large member of the VVA Board of Director who chairs the VVA National Public Affairs Committee, was honored for his decades of volunteer work in Utah and “his unwavering patriotism and desire to unselfishly serve Utah’s Vietnam veterans.” Among many other things, Howland spearheaded the effort to build the replica Wall, which was dedicated in 2018.
After receiving the award, Howland said: “Such an incredible honor. I share this with my wife Sherry and all the magnificent VVA Vietnam veterans, veterans organizations, AVVA, and everyone who are always a part of marvelous teams. I share this award with each of you.”
The Villages, Florida, Chapter 1036 is continuing to support its community during the pandemic. In April, the chapter presented a check to the Beyond the Walls Food Pantry in Fruitland Park for $3,000; $6,000 in scholarships to three local high school students; and $65 to a local restaurant server. The chapter’s annual golf tournament fundraiser, which supports much of its local charitable activities, will not be held this year because many facilities have been closed in The Villages. So the chapter has turned the event into a Virtual Team tournament. The tournament’s main sponsor, the Parady Financial Group, and other sponsors immediately pledged more than $10,000 of the $19,000 goal. The chapter is asking golfers who are staying at home to make contributions by mail. Details are on the chapter website.
Members of Morristown, Tennessee, Chapter 1073 helped decorate veterans’ graves during the Memorial Day weekend at Hamblen Memory Gardens in Morristown. Chapter President Robert Russell told the Citizen Tribune newspaper that the chapter has been placing American flags on the graves on Memorial Day for about ten years. “This is one of our projects,” Russell said. “We’re trying to maintain social distancing and do our thing. Out here in the open, we’re reasonably safe. It is an honor to decorate the graves.”
The cemetery greatly appreciated the chapter’s service to the community. “It’s always such an honor to be part of this,” sad Hamblen Memory Gardens’ sales manager Paul Chapman. “The cemetery looks wonderful. I have been here eight years and [Chapter 1073] has done it before that.” The chapter “began in the dedicated part at the back of the cemetery where most of the veterans are interred, but veterans are buried all over the property. They go to other parts of the cemetery when they have flags left. If they see a veteran’s marker in another part of the cemetery, they will place a flag there.”
The chapter has also donated more than 3,000 American flags to school districts in nearby counties, and replaces worn-out ones.
Bob Rubb, a member of Milwaukee Chapter 324, donated money for the chapter to purchase nearly 3,000 submarine sandwiches, which chapter members delivered in early June to every employee of the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center. The chapter bought the subs from Cousins Submarines, a Wisconsin-based regional sub shop, which donated a bag of chips with each sandwich. The chapter delivered the sandwiches in two trips, the first for workers on the second and third shifts, and the second the next morning for the first-shift workers. Chapter website.
David Treffinger, the president of Clay County, Florida, William G. Byrns Chapter 1059, laid a wreath at the foot of the Taps Monument in Green Cove Springs on Memorial Day. Also in attendance at the scaled-back ceremony was the chapter’s founder and former president, Gary Newman, who led the effort to build the memorial. It honors 66 Clay County natives who died in America’s wars, from the Civil War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including eighteen local men who perished in the Vietnam War. The black granite monument, which was dedicated in 2017, sits on the grounds of the historic Clay County Courthouse.
Tony D’Aleo, the president of Duval County, Florida, Nicholas J. Cutinha Chapter 1046, delivered a large shipment of face coverings in May to the staff at the Community Health Outreach in Jacksonville. The nonprofit charitable organization runs medical and dental clinics, a food pantry, and childcare center for those in need. The facemasks were made by the Vietnamese Association of Jacksonville. See the chapter website. Go to Community Health Outreach site at: https://www.chojax.net and the Vietnamese Association FB page.
In March Rutland, Vermont, Chapter One President Andy Megrath presented a check for $40,000 to the Rutland City School system. That generous chapter contribution will be used to provide a self-sustaining scholarship fund for graduates of the Stafford Technical Center in Rutland, a large career and tech center that offers programs in Digital Arts, Hospitality and Entrepreneurship, Culinary Arts, and many other areas for students going on to college after graduation. The scholarships will go to the children and grandchildren of Vietnam War veterans. For more chapter news, go to http://vietnamvetschapter1.org
Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Mike Voth Memorial Chapter 5 recently presented $1,000 college scholarships to Aaron Dorf and Kortlyn Berg of nearby Mondovi. The scholarship, named in honor of Mike Voth, go to graduating high school seniors to continue their education. The awards are open to all students who interview a Vietnam War veteran and write an essay based on that interview. First preference is given to Chapter 5 family members. Read more at http://www.mikevothmemorialvva5.org
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