The Arizona State Council, Phoenix Chapter 432, Mohave County Chapter 975, East Valley Chapter 1011, and West Valley Chapter 1043 played a big role at Arizona’s StandDown 2013, the largest homeless veterans event in the nation, which took place March 8-10. More than 1,500 veterans took part in the three-day event, which was held at the Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum located on the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix. The Chapter 432 Color Guard presented the colors at the opening ceremonies. Former Arizona State Council President Bill Messer joined the Color Guard. Also on hand to help were current State Council President Gene Crego and newly elected Arizona State AVVA President Sue Crego.
Lawton, Oklahoma, Chapter 751 recently sponsored the first of what will be an annual Junior ROTC Drill Meet. JROTC teams from eight local schools took part in the all-day event, which consisted of an academic challenge, drill competition, color guard competition, and a physical fitness test. Chapter members worked as judges and scorers and handled the concessions. “A special thanks goes to all the disabled veterans who worked from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. without a break,” said meet director Bob Meyer.
Four members of the Quad Cities (Illinois) Chapter 299 Color GuardAndy Anderson, Bob Brooks, Dennis Laird, and Jim Lovelesspresented the colors in late October at Soldier Field in Chicago before the start of the Chicago Bears vs. Carolina Panthers NFL game. “It was a great experience for us to be able to honor all veterans, the NFL, and the Chicago Bears,” Loveless, a life-long Bears fan, said. “When we came off the field, the fans made us feel like celebrities. They were shaking our hands, thanking us for our service to our country, and taking pictures of us and with us. What an incredible day it was.”
Madison, Tennessee, Chapter 953 collected more than $15,000 in food and cash in its annual Christmas Food Drive last year. With those donations the chapter distributed more than 110 large boxes of food during the holiday season to veterans in need. “This was a great labor of love to help out less fortunate veterans in our community and surrounding counties that we serve,” said Chapter President Ralph Land.
Sumner County, Tennessee, Chapter 240 hosted fifty-three local children of needy active-duty military and veterans at its annual Christmas party in December. Each child was photographed with Santa, who presented each with a gift. Each child’s family also went home with a car filled with other gifts and enough food for Christmas dinner and several additional meals. The chapter sent the leftover toys to two local hospitals to be given to child patients. “Thank you so much for what you did this morning to bring the gifts,” the director of volunteer services at Sumner Regional Medical Center wrote to the chapter. “Our ER staff was so elated. They had nothing to give, so you were an answer to a prayer before we even prayed.”
Tom Stormer and Ron Buchanan, members of Cincinnati Chapter 10, served as volunteer guardians accompanying two World War II veterans on the April 16 Honor Flight Tri-State trip to Washington, D.C. The group visited the World War II Memorial, as well as the Vietnam Veterans and Korean Veterans Memorials, and the Lincoln, Marine, and Air Force Memorials during that full day in Washington. “Besides paying for the cost of two chapter member guardians, Chapter 10 also gave a donation to the Honor Flight, which is completely funded by private donations,” said Chapter President Ed Brown.
Members of Queens, New York, Chapter 32 attended a New York Daily News Golden Gloves boxing event in March. The invitation came from John Baker of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. “When they announced that part of the evening’s proceeds was going to VVA Chapter 32 for the work we do helping burying indigent veterans, the whole place gave us a standing ovation,” said Chapter President Paul Narson. “It was a very nice and warm feeling to see a couple of thousand people cheering the chapter.”?
The South Dakota Legislature, after an intense lobbying effort by members of Northeast South Dakota Chapter 1054 and other veterans’ groups, recently voted to celebrate March 30 as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. Gov. Dennis Daugaard made it official when he signed the bill into law on March 6.
Mid-Michigan Chapter 1047 hosted its second annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day on March 30 at the new Clare County Veterans Freedom Park in Harrison. Many VVA members, families, and friends took part in the event. “Some came from as far as 150 miles to take part,” said chapter member Ken Spiegel. “Veterans from over the years came together” on that snowy day. “There were veterans from World War II through today.” Chapter President Joe Prator spoke at the event.
On March 28 at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal presented a proclamation designating March 29th as Vietnam Veterans Day in the state. Among the Vietnam veterans present for the occasion were Spence Davis, president of the Georgia State Council; Allen Harvey, former Georgia State Council president; and Graden Thompson, secretary of Black-shear, Georgia, Chapter 1070.
Members of Lincoln-Otero County, New Mexico, Chapter 1062 took part in ceremonies on March 29 marking Vietnam Veterans Day on the campus of Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso. The New Mexico Legislature passed a bill this year declaring March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day in the state.
Sanford, Maine, Chapter 1044 held its second annual Welcome Home open house on March 30 at the Elks Lodge in Sanford to honor Vietnam veterans as well as veterans of America’s most recent wars. The chapter offered donuts and coffee and a screening of the Vietnam War helicopter documentary In the Shadow of the Blade. “I’ve received more ‘welcome homes’ during the last few years than I ever did in the forty years following the war,” said Chapter President Joseph Armstrong. “It’s amazing.” This new recognition, he said, “is a strong reason why our troops coming home today are not going through what we went through.”
On March 29 Wisconsin State Council President Richard Lindbeck spoke at a ceremony at the State Capitol in Madison commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Gov. Scott Walker presented Lindbeck with a proclamation declaring that day as Vietnam Veterans Day in Wisconsin. Lindbeck spoke about his time in country in 1965-66 and how Vietnam veterans were treated when they returned home, as well as what Vietnam Veterans Day means to Vietnam veterans.
More than two dozen members of Thomas P. Coughlin Memorial Chapter 72 in Brooklyn, New York, attended the March 21 Vietnam Veterans Recognition Ceremony at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn. The guest speaker was VVA member Bill Nelson, the former chairman and CEO of HBO. “Fort Hamilton went all out to make sure Vietnam veterans received the Welcome Home we never got,” said Chapter Second Vice President Joe Piazza.
San Diego, California, Chapter 472 held its Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day commemoration on Saturday, April 13, at the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in San Diego’s Balboa Park. San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, a long-time supporter of Vietnam veterans’ causes, presented Chapter President Donald Barnard with the city’s official Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Proclamation.
Northern New Mexico Chapter 996 hosted a dinner and dance March 15 in Santa Fe to honor the 40th anniversary of the release from captivity of former Vietnam War POW Juan Jacquez. The former Army infantryman spent nearly four years as a POW after he and two other men were ambushed and taken prisoner while on patrol on May 11, 1969, just twenty days before he was scheduled to finish his Vietnam War tour. Jacquez, who grew up in northern New Mexico, was forced to march three days through dense jungle to a prison camp in Cambodia, where he was held for six months. He was then taken to Hanoi, where he spent time in several prisons, including the Hanoi Hilton. He was released on March 27, 1973.
Liberty Bell Chapter 266 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, took part in ceremonies on March 30 at the dedication of the new Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The chapter joined in honoring Army Cpl. Michael Crescenz, the only resident of Philadelphia to be awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War. A plaque was added to the memorial to honor Crescenz, who was killed in action on November 20, 1968.
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