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November/December 2023 -   -  


Western New York Chapter 77 has raised more than $6,000 in donations this year through its Orange Blossoms fundraising events, in which chapter members set up information tables outside retail stores, including Sam’s Club in Cheektowaga. Chapter volunteers distribute VVA and VA literature about the harmful effects of being exposed to Agent Orange and also accept donations, which go to support the chapter’s operating expenses. “A byproduct is receiving numerous handshakes and ‘Thank you for your service to our country,’ which is always heartfelt,” said Joe Pasek, the chapter’s Agent Orange/Veterans Affairs Committee chair.

Once again this year Dean K. Phillips Memorial Chapter 227 in Northern Virginia donated back-to-school cash gift cards to 42 children and to two dozen military veterans in the local U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and VA Supportive Housing program (HUD-VASH) . The students received $100 gift cards and the veterans got cards worth $200. This marked the 13th consecutive year the chapter has presented the September gifts. The chapter also plans to donate additional gift cards to VASH veterans and their families during the holiday season.

Finger Lakes (New York) Chapter 377 held its 32nd annual Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Watch Fire at Myers Park in Lansing, New York, on September 15, National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Earlier in September, chapter members helped escort The Wall That Heals from Groton, New York, to Casey Park in Auburn. Two days later Chapter 377 and Auburn, N.Y., Chapter 704 provided the color guard for the Wall That Heals opening ceremony. And on November 11, Chapter 377 held a Veterans Day fundraising concert at Royal Nissan Subaru in Cortland, N.Y.

Rockland County, New York, Chapter 333 celebrated its 35th anniversary at its October chapter meeting. Chapter President Ray Furlong hosted the event, which included several members giving presentations on the chapter’s history going back to 1987, and honoring the chapter’s late founding member, Jerry Donnellan. “His legacy will live on from this generation of veterans to the next and beyond,” said former chapter president Roy Tschudy. Chapter member Marcus Arroyo and Tschudy recently spoke about their Vietnam War experiences to an 11th-grade English class at Suffern High School. The students had recently read and studied Tim O’Brien’s classic Vietnam War novel, The Things They Carried.

Members and AVVA members of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Chapter 537 took part in a flag-raising ceremony held on October 24, at Oshkosh North High School’s Veterans Courtyard. Students had worked for two years to raise $15,000 for the project, which came to fruition with the unveiling ceremony of ten new flags installed in the courtyard just outside the school: the American and Wisconsin flags; the POW/MIA flag; and the flags of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard. Chapter 537 sponsored the POW/MIA flag and the Coast Guard flag.

South Bay (California) Chapter 53 commemorated its 40th anniversary at its October chapter meeting with the blessing of a replacement sign designating Highway One in Los Angeles County as Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway. The chapter was instrumental in naming a stretch of the highway in honor of those who served in the Vietnam War back in 2000, having raised $25,000 for new highway signs. In the last four decades the chapter has—among many other things—awarded some $100,000 in student scholarships and built the Hermosa Beach Veterans Memorial Sundial, which was dedicated in 1994. “We don’t sit around and tell war stories,” said Chapter President Dennis Wild. “We do things.” Living up to VVA’s motto, “In Service to America,” former President Steve Crecy said: “We try to mix it up: have a lot of fun and do some good.”

Members of The Villages, Florida, Chapter 1036 recently visited fourth grade classes at four local elementary schools to discuss the Vietnam War. “Some of us like to talk about our experiences and alert people about what war means to us,” Chapter President Rick Rademacher said. “Kids see a war movie and think it’s glory. Well, it’s people getting killed on both sides, and it’s no fun. It’s getting harder for us to do these kinds of things, but we’re still trying to continue these programs because we feel that there’s a need and we enjoy doing it.” The chapter donates $1,000 to each school during the member visits.

Nine members of Umpqua Valley Chapter 805 in Roseburg, Oregon, recently took part in an Honor Flight program to Washington D.C., where they spent several days taking in veteran-related memorials, museums, and other sites. Chapter member Steve Ralston said the most memorable part of the visit for him was going to Arlington National Cemetery. “As far as you could see there were white crosses everywhere,” he said. “It was really something, beautiful to be back there to see that. We met a lot of Vietnam veteran brothers.” Member Tom Beckley found the names of six of his Vietnam War buddies who died in the war when the group visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “One of them was a guy who graduated high school with me at Roseburg High. It was very emotional,” he said. “Not just The Wall, but the World War II Memorial, the Army Museum [at Fort Belvoir] and the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.” The chapter will donate $1,200 to help fund the next local Honor Flight.


Campbell County, Kentucky, Chapter 88 is raising money to build a memorial in Tower Park in the city of Fort Thomas, Ky., to honor the 35 Campbell County Vietnam War service members who perished in the war. “My objective is to honor the young men who died serving their country, not to say I don’t want to honor everyone who served in Vietnam—it’s very close to my heart,” said Ron Allari, Chapter 88’s president. The proposed memorial, which is scheduled to be dedicated on March 29, 2024, Vietnam War Veterans Day, will consist of two side panels, and a six-foot panel in the middle made of black granite engraved with the names. The memorial site will include benches and a picnic table. The chapter helps maintain the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Erlanger, Kentucky, which honors the 48 men from Kenton County who died in the war.

Colorado Springs, Colorado, Chapter 1075 was the driving force behind a new Vietnam Veterans Memorial that was dedicated October 16, outside the gates of Ft. Carson, near the post’s Visitor Center and the 4th Infantry Division Museum. “We dedicate this site as a sacred place at Fort Carson where people can gather to take pictures, where veterans can gather and share experiences with each other or just stand or sit alone and ponder thoughts that they can never share with anyone,” Chapter 1075 Chaplain LeRoy Trusty said at the dedication.

The modest memorial, emblazoned with the words, “Honoring All Vietnam Veterans, 1955 to 1975,” sits on 58 red-stained bricks, symbolizing the 58,220 service members who lost their lives in Vietnam. A time capsule containing 30 letters that is scheduled to be opened in 2043 is buried behind the memorial. “In mine, I have my retirement orders, promotion orders, and dog tags,” said Chapter President Thomas Dowell. “I have 12 things in there that, hopefully, my grandkids — or great grandkids, which I don't have yet — will open and have.”




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