The VVA Veteran® Online

November/December 2015

Veterans Day 2015

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On Wednesday, November 11, veterans, their families, and friends gathered around the country to remember and honor the legacy of U.S. military service. President Obama led the national Veterans Day ceremony with a wreath-laying at 11 a.m. at Arlington National Cemetery. His speech paid tribute to the sacrifices of veterans. He also described progress in veterans’ health care at the VA and improved access to jobs, and highlighted recent increases to the VA’s budget to help battle tough issues, such as homelessness and the post-9/11 G.I. bill. The President encouraged businesses to hire more veterans, saying, “They’re ready to serve and they’ll make you proud.”

The Arlington service recognized the oldest surviving female veteran of World War II, Army Lt. Col. Luta McGrath, 107, who was in attendance. VVA President John Rowan and National Treasurer Wayne Reynolds laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Their wives, Mariann Rowan and Carol Reynolds, laid the AVVA wreath.

At the apex of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial veterans and their families congregated around the stage at 1 p.m. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Lisa Brannon, a Gold Star daughter whose father was killed in the Battle of Ia Drang. Keynote speaker Col. Bruce Crandall, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during that battle, reflected on his wartime experiences. The Master of Ceremonies was Vietnam veteran Harry G. Robinson III, a noted Washington, D.C. architect.

As an unarmed helicopter pilot Crandall flew twenty-two missions during the Battle of Ia Drang, transporting supplies and ammunitions into combat areas and evacuating wounded troops. “It was really the first helicopter war,” he said. “I don’t think anyone who served in Vietnam will ever forget the whump-whump of the Huey helicopters.” By the end of the war, he had flown in more than 900 missions.

Crandall also reflected on his mentorship of young veterans and other Medal of Honor recipients. “Let me tell you this,” he said of receiving the medal, “no one ever feels like they deserve it. You just go out there and do your job, and these things happen to you.” He then joked: “What young man’s mother would believe he deserved a Good Conduct Medal, much less a Medal of Honor?”

After his speech, around two dozen veterans service organizations were recognized at the podium, including VVA and AVVA. VVA National Secretary Bill Meeks was on stage to receive this recognition and place a wreath at The Wall. The event came to a close with “Taps” played by a lone servicewoman.

At the VVA membership tent near the memorial, volunteers distributed information about the organization and the ongoing $100 lifetime membership drive. Volunteers included Membership Chair Charlie Hobbs, Bob Pace, Sandy Miller, and Bill Meeks. AVVA President Sharon Hobbs, Vice President Cathy Kiester, and Region 5 Director Cecilia Essenmacher also were on hand.

Reading the Names
in Philadelphia
VVA Chapter 732: Coordinated Help for Homeless Veterans
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