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November/December 2023 -   -  

Getting A Real Welcome Home   


How many of our members know that since the mid-1990s, VVA’s Communications Director Mokie Porter has made 26 trips to Vietnam with our Veterans Initiative program in pursuit of the fullest possible accounting of POW-MIAs from a half a century ago?

An important part of the VI program has been working with Vietnamese veterans to help account for the missing on both sides. During a Veterans Initiative trip in 1995, a report came from a veteran in Qu?ng Nam Province about a possible aircraft crash site from the late 1960s.

After decades of challenges with that crash-site excavation, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced last June that USAF F-4 pilot Maj. Ernie DeSoto and Navigator Capt. Frederick M. Hall, who had been MIA since April 12, 1969, were accounted for and would be coming home for burial.

When I found out that Capt. Hall’s remains would be flown into Greenville-Spartanburg Airport in South Carolina on October 10 for internment in Waynesvillle, North Carolina on October 12, I asked Mokie Porter to accompany Region 3 Director Rossie Nance, South Carolina State Council President Sam Brick, North Carolina State Council Vice President Allan Perkal, and myself to welcome him home, to pay our respects to his wife, Julia, his siblings, his former classmates, and his other family members, as well as to participate in welcome home and burial ceremonies.

I invite everyone to watch the video of this solemn occasion, produced by Mokie and Elizabeth Porter. The participation from VVA and AVVA chapter members from North and South Carolina and thousands of people who lined the roadways along the burial procession route was an emotional outpouring that is difficult for me to describe. You can watch on VVA’s YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmirhwE8pf0&t=122s

During the event I realized that despite having been deeply involved for three decades in helping bring MIAs home, participating in the final rites was the first time Mokie Porter had seen the results of her efforts come full circle. This was a very special occasion for her after many years of diligence and sacrifice. I hope that you are as proud and humbled to be associated with Mokie Porter as I am.

National Service

I have never met VVA member Bill Graham, whose “Speak Out” on National Service is on p. 12. Please read it. I am envious of his talent with words. I am sure that there are many who agree with his position.

I am encouraged by the constant positive feedback from members who agree that National Service is of vital importance to our nation and to future generations. The question remains, though: Is there an organizational intent to determine the will of our membership concerning further actions VVA might want to pursue or not pursue in the future? This is a huge undertaking that would probably address not only National Service but also the knowledge and understanding of civic pride and responsibility. Before it can be determined whether our nation would accept any kind of compulsory National Service, we might want to be sure people know what our nation stands for. So how do we determine what positions on these issues our members might want the organization to pursue or not pursue? My view? Ask them.

We intend to have a plan, developed by the staff and the Public Affairs Committee, for a valid, independent survey, with budget resources approved, ready to go to every member by next spring. This will be discussed by the VVA Board of Directors in January, as this is ultimately a BOD responsibility.

Based on results and feedback from this member survey, and then, if approved, the VVA Board could put together recommendations for proceeding with a National Service initiative to present to delegates at the 2025 National Convention in New Orleans.

This is going to be a process, and we owe it to our country to give it our due consideration.

Jackie and I wish you all a blessed and holy Holiday season and a healthy 2024. You are all relevant.




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