|Vietnam Veterans of America|
Many VVA chapters held ceremonies and otherwise commemorated Memorial Day during the holiday weekend of May 28-31. What follows is a list of some of the events from around the country.
Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell Chapter 266 held its annual ceremony at the city’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial on May 31. The chapter’s Honor Guard took part in the ceremonies, which included a live bagpiper and a salute from members of the 82nd Airborne Division Association. Family and friends of those whose names are on the memorial placed flowers on the memorial.
Members of Tallahassee, Florida, Big Bend Chapter 96 placed 172 flags on veterans’ graves at the city’s Oakland Cemetery on May 28, the Friday before the holiday.
Greenville, South Carolina, Chapter 523 co-hosted Memorial Day ceremonies at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Cleveland Park, in conjunction with the Greenville County Veterans Affairs office. The ceremonies didn’t happen in 2020 due to the pandemic, and chapter members were thankful to hold the event live this year. “This comes from the heart of almost all of us there,” Chapter 523 President Patrick Ramsey told the Greenville News. “This is the best turnout we’ve had for our little event in years.” The ceremony included a wreath laying and the retiring of an American flag.
Paducah, Kentucky, Chapter 337 held its 38th annual Memorial Day program in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Dolly McNutt Memorial Plaza in Paducah. The event, coordinated by Gordon Williams, a founding member of the chapter, including a reading of the 41 names of local men who perished in the war, remarks from Vietnam War veterans and Paducah Mayor George Bray, and the playing of “Taps.” Chapter 337 President Ronnie Waters spoke of the importance of the ceremony to family members. “They don’t have their loved one,” Waters told a local TV station, “but if they have the memory and they have the honor of their family member and people that are still remembering them, that means a lot to them.”
Brazos Valley, Texas, Chapter 937 held its annual Memorial Day ceremony May 30 at the Brazos Valley Vietnam Veterans Memorial in downtown Bryan, Texas. The memorial—which the chapter designed, built, and dedicated in 2014—is engraved with the names of 65 Brazos Valley service personnel who died in the Vietnam War. Topped by a sculpture depicting boots, dog tags, and an inverted rifle holding up a helmet, the memorial is dedicated to “the men and women of the Brazos Valley who served and sacrificed to protect and preserve the enduring freedoms of the United States of America.”
Heart of Texas Chapter 1012 held its annual Sunset Memorial Observation May 28 at the Waco Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which contains the names of 83 local residents who died in Vietnam. The ceremonies, held in conjunction with the local Special Forces Association chapter, featured a Heart of Texas Young Marines color guard and “Taps” played by chapter member Gene Lednicky.
Sumner County, Tennessee, Chapter 240 presented a special Memorial Day Remembrance Program on May 31 to honor the war dead from the county at the Sumner County Veterans Park in Gallatin, which the chapter designed and maintains. The keynote speaker was Bill Robinson, the longest-held enlisted POW of the Vietnam War, a member of Knoxville, Tennessee, Capt. Bill Robinson Chapter 1078. Robinson gave the keynote speech at VVA’s 2017 National Convention in Springfield, Illinois.
Members of Sierra Nevada Chapter 98 piled into some two dozen vehicles outside the Northern Nevada Veterans Home in Sparks on Memorial Day. They then leisurely cruised around the large complex, paying tribute to its 92 residents. “They need to know they’re not forgotten,” Chapter President J.R. Stafford told the Reno Gazette Journal. “They need to know that their sacrifice, them wearing the uniform in service to our country, is not forgotten.” The residents, said Shauna Aragon, who works at facility, have “been sitting there waiting. They’re all gathered by the windows, and they’re out by the courtyard. I’ve never seen so many smiles.”
Dewitt County, Texas, Chapter 1029 hosted a Memorial Day service at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Yorktown. The focus of the memorial, which the chapter dedicated in 2012, is a restored Huey UH-B helicopter mounted on a white rock base. A black granite plaque honors the more than five hundred DeWitt County residents who served during the Vietnam War; a separate black granite panel memorializes the 12 local service members who died in the war.
Former Vietnam War Army infantry Lt. Lee Widjeskog delivered the keynote speech at the Memorial Day commemoration hosted by Kent County, Delaware, Chapter 850 at the Kent County Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Veterans Memorial Park in Dover. The memorial, which the chapter built, honors the 22 men from Kent County who perished in the Vietnam War.
Rochester, New York, Chapter 20 members Ken Allocco, Joe Peck, Chuck Macaluso, and Jerry McDermott met with students at Barker Road Middle School in mid-May, the chapter’s first School Visit Program event in 2021. Allocco runs the chapter’s program, which consists of volunteer members giving presentations to local schools. It’s “a fun and rewarding program for both the students and the volunteers,” he said.
Tucson, Arizona, Chapter 106 awarded an Achievement Certificate and VVA Medal in April to Navy Junior ROTC Cadet First Class Petty Lynsey Varner of Sahuarita High School, a first for the chapter.
North Dakota Northern Warriors Chapter 941 teamed up with the Fargo Air Museum for a week in April to commemorate National Vietnam War Veterans Day. The week’s events included educational sessions on PTSD, Agent Orange, and suicide prevention, as well as museum exhibits of war vehicles and artifacts. “We don’t want people to forget there were people who died for the country,” Chapter Present Larry Nicholson said of the partnership with the museum.
Norwich, Connecticut, Chapter 270 co-sponsored ceremonies on National Vietnam War Veterans Day on the Chelsea Parade Green in Norwich. Among the speakers for the event was VVA National Chaplain Father Phil Salois, who spoke about his combat experiences and post-traumatic stress after serving a combat-heavy tour of duty with the 199th Light Infantry Brigade—after which he was awarded a Silver Star.
Members of Northern Virginia Dean K. Phillips Memorial Chapter 227 attended internment services of Anthony Evans, a former Marine who served in Vietnam, recently at Arlington National Cemetery after receiving a request to do so because Evans’ family members in California were unable to come to the funeral. Members also showed up for the 100th birthday party of a local retired World War II Navy commander, Edward R. Ettner, Sr. And the chapter provided a $1,300 grant, funded by donations from a member and a friend of the chapter, to cover medical expenses for the wife of a local U.S. Army veteran.
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