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Post Member Michael Reagan Receives Well Deserved National Recognition

By Fred M. Apgar

Post Member Michael Reagan Receives Well Deserved National RecognitionAt a recent ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery, Michael Reagan, an active and loyal member of our Post, was awarded the Citizens Before Self Honor Medal. Referred to as the Civilian Medal of Honor, this prestigious medal was awarded to Michael by the Medal of Honor Foundation, an organization comprised of recipients of our nation’s highest military medal, the Congressional Medal of Honor (MOH). This recognition is one of the highest and most prestigious awards that is bestowed on private citizens.

The Medal of Honor Foundation was founded in 1999 for the purpose of perpetuating the legacy of the MOH through outreach and educational programs. The program to honor private citizens was created to recognize those ordinary Americans from across the country who perform extraordinary acts of courage or through a continued commitment to service by placing the needs of others first. Post Member Michael Reagan Receives Well Deserved National RecognitionMichael was selected as a 2015 honoree “for his service in founding the non-profit Fallen Heroes Project, which provides hand-drawn portraits to the families of all servicemen and women who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

Michael is a Seattle native, and following his high school graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. Following a combat tour of duty in Vietnam, he attended art school. He worked as a graphic arts designer for the Seattle Public Schools, which led to a position at the University of Washington, an affiliation that remains today. Michael is a portrait artist, and during his 40 year career, he has drawn over 10,000 portraits of celebrities, professional athletes, U.S. Presidents, as well as other heads of state. Early in his career, Michael made the decision to use his skill and reputation as a much sought after portrait artist to perform charitable work for a wide range of benevolent organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Children’s Hospital, the Humane Society, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. To date, his signed celebrity portraits have raised over $10 million for these deserving organizations.

Post Member Michael Reagan Receives Well Deserved National Recognition

Mike appears with this year’s class of recipients, fourth row up, fourth from right.

Memory of Past Commander Dennis Gaasland Honored

Memory of Past Commander Dennis Gaasland Honored

At the age of 17 and with the permission of his parents, Dennis Gaasland joined the Navy to serve his nation during WW II. Trained as a radar operator, Dennis also served in a combat amphibious unit. While serving in the Pacific, Dennis was sent to the Solomon Islands, New Hebrides Islands, Guadalcanal, and the Russel Islands before his convoy participated in the landing at the Gulf of Leyte in the Philippines. Following the war, Dennis married his childhood sweetheart, Helen, and graduated from UW with a degree in Business Administration. He was a successful businessman, working with several Seattle law firms. Dennis served at Post #8870 Commander from 1992-1994 and again from 1995-1996. He passed away in March 2015.

At the July meeting, Post member Mike Reagan honored the memory of Dennis by presenting a portrait of a young Dennis in his Navy uniform to his wife of more than 67 years, Helen. Also in attendance was her son, Greg. Mike, of course, is the founder of the Fallen Heroes Project, and to date, he has drawn portraits of over 4000 American veterans who have lost their lives while in service to our great nation. In his remarks, Mike assured Mrs. Gaasland that the Post would, “always remember one of our own”.

World War II Veterans Honored

World War II Veterans Honored

Post 8870 members Edgar Shepherd and Benton Webb were honored at the July Post meeting with engraved plaques recognizing their service in the United States Navy during World War II.

Both men served from 1942 to 1945. We are proud to have these WWII veterans as our Post Comrades.

These comrades are included in the group of our remaining WWII vets so honored earlier.

An Edmonds Veterans Kind of 4th!

Comrades of Post 8870 and their families gathered after the parade to share some great food prepared both on site and brought from home.

An Edmonds Veterans Kind of 4th!

Cooking up a batch of burgers and dogs.

An Edmonds Veterans Kind of 4th!

Post members and their families enjoy some traditional 4th of July fare.

An Edmonds Veterans Kind of 4th!

A great opportunity to celebrate the reason we served.

Purple Heart Night at the Mariners!

Monday, August 10 – 7:10 PM at Safeco Field. Mariners vs Orioles.

Get a specially priced ticket, receive a Mariners Purple Heart T-shirt and support a great cause. Tickets start at $22 and a portion of the proceeds will benefit your local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The icing on the cake: Our own Phil Sacks who is a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, will be throwing out the first pitch!

Put it right over the plate, Phil!

Edmonds Veterans Plaza

Edmonds Veterans Plaza Update Design Elements

The Plaza project is going full steam ahead and our fundraising committee wishes to remind all of our members that this is our project for the memory of all veterans past, present and future.

Each of us needs to look at ways in which we can contribute to the raising of the necessary funds; from our own contributions, large or small and from other community resources with whom we may have influence.



Old Glory proudly rises toward the top of the flagpole at Edmonds City Park on Sunday as members of Edmonds Post 8870 of the VFW render honors. Left to right, Al Starkenburg, Phil Sacks, John Shelton, Mike Denton (partially obscured), Carl Kurfess, Post Commander James Blossey, Terry Crabtree, Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling and Les Abel.

Ninety-nine years ago then President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. It commemorates the adoption of the Stars and Stripes in 1777. Edmonds Post 8870 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars marked the event on Sunday, June 14, by lowering the weathered existing flag in Edmonds City Park and raising a new and larger one in its place.

Post Member Harry Miller In the News

Post Member Harry Miller In the NewsIf you happened to be watching the evening news on NBC, FOX, or C-SPAN during the recent Memorial Day ceremonies in Washington, D.C., you probably saw our very own Harry Miller being interviewed. Harry, who is a long-time member of the Post , moved to Washington two years ago following the death of his wife. He has a son who lives nearby, and Harry is a resident of the Armed Forces Retirement Home.

Harry was one of the 24 residents from the home to attend the 70th Anniversary of V-E Day at the WW II Veterans Memorial and was selected to lay a wreath at the memorial. The representative from New Zealand, Defense Attache Commodore Keating, presented Harry with a commemorative coin. Based on the role he played in the moving ceremony, media representatives sought him out for his views and reflections on his service. He was more than pleased to express his “opinions” to Russian journalists regarding relations between our two nations.

NL0715-Harry_Miller-2Last December, Harry participated in another ceremony that commemorated the Battle of the Bulge, combat in which Harry participated. At that time, he was asked to lay a wreath at the Battle of the Bulge section of the WWII Memorial. In addition to his service during WW II, Harry served in Korea and was involved in the planning of B-52 strikes in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

Amos Chapman, “Plank Owner”


VFW, Post 8870 presented to our Comrade Amos Chapman a bound book giving tribute to the USS Killen and Amos as one of the Plank Owner’s from this Fletcher Class destroyer. (For you ground pounders out there, a “Plank Owner” in a member of a ship’s original commissioning crew.)

The Mighty K, the USS Killen lies in water off the coast of Puerto Rico and this tribute to the ship and her crew was prepared by Juan Vera, the Undersea Historian of Puerto Rico.

The USS Killen engaged in The Battles for Leyte Gulf during which time the ship was under constant attack by artillery, air and Kamikaze attack. During the battle of Surigao Strait the Killen sank the Japanese Battleship, Yamashiro with a surface launched torpedo. This was the last surface torpedo battle in US military history. While on patrol off the Gulf of Leyte the Killen came under attack by seven enemy aircraft and after downing five of the seven did herself take a hit from a Japanese skip bomb killing 17 sailors.

Amos, we thank you for being a member of VFW, Post 8870 and being our friend.

Rock Roth Freedom Scholarships Awarded

Rock Roth Freedom Scholarships Awarded

Post 8870 Commander Jim Blossey, is joined by Marilyn Roth in recognizing recognize Rock Roth Freedom Scholarship recipient Grace Wainaina.

At our June meeting, the recipients of the Rock Roth Freedom Scholarship were recognized by the Post. This year, marks the fourth year of the program of scholarships were named to honor the memory of Rock Roth, a veteran of the Vietnam War and a career naval aviator. Rock was a long-time member of the Post, who passed away suddenly last year. He played a leadership role in conducting the Post’s youth essay and teacher recognition programs and participated in a mentoring program for the students at Scriber-Lake High School. We were honored to have Marilyn Roth, Rock’s widow, attend the meeting to present the scholarships to the recipients.

The Rock Roth Freedom Scholarship was established to identify and reward deserving graduating seniors who have achieved an outstanding record of academic achievement, leadership, and community service and understand and value the freedom and rights guaranteed to us all by our Constitution. The scholarships, each in the amount of $1000, were awarded to two students residing within the Edmonds Public School District and two deserving seniors residing within the Mukilteo Public School District. In addition to their transcript and a resume, students were asked to write a 500-750 word essay in which they explained the meaning of freedom to them and how our Constitution establishes and maintains a culture of freedom in our country.

Representing the Edmonds School District were Jessica Nguyen who will graduate from Lynnwood High School and Daniil Oliferovskiy who attended Mount Lake Terrace High School. The two Mukilteo district seniors were Helen Anderson of Kamiak High School and Mariner High School graduate Grace Wainaina. Jessica graduated with a perfect GPA of 4.00 and will attend the University of Washington. Daniil graduated with a near-perfect GPA of 3.98 and will also attend the University of Washington. Helen Anderson plans to attend Western Washington University in the fall and Grace will attend Oakwood University in Alabama.

New Members!

Daniel B Curnutt

Daniel B Curnutt

Dan is from Bellevue, WA. He served in the Navy 1966-1970. He was an Engineman 3rd Class and was onboard the USS Oriskany CVA-34 at Yankee Station off Vietnam and later aboard riverboats in Qui Nhon and the Delta 1967-69. Awards include the Combat Action Ribbon and Navy Unit Commendation. Dan is a cabinetmaker. He and Mandy reside in Edmonds and have 2 children and 2.9 grandchildren. Dan is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America and American Legion Post 66.

James E MurdockJames E Murdock

Jim is from Lynnwood and joined the Army June 1969 and served until Feb 1972. He served in Vietnam as a flight engineer for a CH-54 Skycrane Nov 70 – Nov 71. His unit, the 159th ASH Bn, was part of the 101st Airborne Div in Phu Bai and later the 1st Aviation Brigade. He had a 5-week TDY tour Udorn, Thailand as part of secret operations. Jim’s awards include the Air Medal and Aircraft Crewman Badge. Jim has a BS in Aviation Maintenance Management and is a retired aircraft mechanic and manufacturing engineer. He and wife Seokke reside in Lynnwood. Jim enjoys motorcycle touring on his BMW.

Aaron M TerwedoAaron M Terwedo

Aaron, an Edmonds native, enlisted in the Army March 2004. He trained as an artilleryman. He served with the 2nd Infantry Div in Korea 2004-5. He was with the 3rd Infantry Division in two separate tours in Iraq during the period 2005-08. His 1st tour, Aaron was engaged at Tikrit providing artillery fire support. His 2nd tour he became an infantryman at Ramadi and Fallujah. A 3rd tour in Iraq 2009-10, Aaron was with the 17th Fires Brigade. He was again in an infantry role in Basra and helped train Iraqi Army and police personnel. His last assignment stateside was at JBLM 2010-11 with the 17th Fires Brigade. Awards include the Army Commendation Medal (3rd award), the Army Achievement Medal (5th award) and the Good Conduct Medal. He is a member of the local DAV chapter. Aaron is a Financial Planner and resides in Edmonds.

Post Receives Department Recognition

Post Receives Department Recognition

Representing the Department, Past Post and District 1 Commander, Jim Traner made several presentations to Commander Jim Blossey to recognize our Post’s achievements in various VFW programs. The Post newsletter continues to be one of the best in the State of Washington, receiving second place honors. In past years, our newsletter editor, Jim Traner, has been recognized as the best in the state. Post #8870 was recognized for its continual participation in and support of the Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy student essay competition, Scouting program, as well as the teacher recognition program. Our Surgeon, Al Boyett, was recognized for the efficient and timely reporting of our Community Service and Hospital reports, and similar recognition was afforded to Chaplain, Fred Apgar. Finally, our Post was recognized for its continued financial support of the USO at Sea-Tac.

Buddy Poppies Income Sets Record

Contributions resulting from our semi-annual distribution of Buddy Poppies at four locations in Edmonds, Mukilteo, Lynnwood (unincorporated Snohomish county) and Mill Creek reached a record amount of over $ 13,620. A hearty well done to all hands who participated and if you didn’t, you missed a great opportunity to have a wonderful experience while aiding the cause of Veterans Relief. Below is the Relief Committee’s budget for distribution of those funds in the coming fiscal year.

Post Relief Fund Budget 2015-2016

Administrative Expenses
Poppies $2,500
Postage/Supplies 200
Service Officer 2,500
Community Programs
Freedom Scholarship $ 4,000
Youth Programs 500
Teacher of the Year 300
Student Essay (Youth/VOD/PP) 600
Fixed Contributions
Orting/Retsil Veterans Homes $ 2,000
National Home 500
Military Support Services 1,000
USO 1,000
Special Olympics 500
Discretionary Contributions
Fallen Heroes (+ Speakers) $ 2,250
Fisher House (Two homes) 2,000
Santa’s Castle (JBLM) 1,000
Chaplains’ Offices 1,500
Semper Fi Fund 500
CRISTA Camps 1,000
Northwest Battle Buddies 500
Rainier Therapeutic Riding 500
Wreaths Across America 500
Miscellaneous/Contingency $ 2,059
Total $ 27,409

World War II Vets Memorabilia Sought

A message from the Post Commander: 

Comrades, I received a call this afternoon from a producer for the Discovery Family Channel. We may be able to get a bit of national publicity. Rather than explain what he is looking for, I will just offer a portion of his message:

The show is for the Discovery Family Channel. It follows two men who are contacted by people who want to thank an “every day hero” in their lives for the sacrifices they’ve made for them. They seek out our guys to help them track down an item from their hero’s past that they’ve lost or given away that holds great sentimental value to them. The reunion with these items will come as a complete surprise. 

The “every day heroes” are not always military veterans. It just happens to be the case with this particular story. 

We will be in the Seattle area from July 11 thru July 13th, to help a son honor his father, who is a WWII Vet. 

What were are currently looking for is someone who has a collection of WWII memorabilia in their possession that our guys can look through during their search, to see what else is out there. 

The collection doesn’t need to be laid out. In fact, it’s better for the show if the items are still packed away in boxes, in their cellars or attics.

Edmonds Veterans Plaza Update

Design Elements

Edmonds Veterans Plaza Update Design Elements

Piictured above is the Navy portion of the curb wall, which will feature identical sections for Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Veterans.


Edmonds Veterans Plaza Update Design Elements

Above and tt right are images of those section being called “Seat Wall” and “Seat Cube” respectively, which are designed to give visitors a place for reading, quiet contemplation, or simply to enjoy the space

Fund Raising Undwerway

Under the Guidance of VFW Post 8870 and lead by the efforts of Ron Clyborne, a fundraising committee comprised of civic leaders, both veteran and non veteran, have begun work to raise the approximately $ 450,000 the project is projected to require.

There is already some seed money in the bank, including a donation from the city of Edmonds, among others and there is no doubt that sustantial contributions will be forthcoming as the word spreads in and around Edmonds.

Details of what the final result is expected to look like can be found on the project web page at http://edmondsveteransplaza.com/. (Some examples shown at left)

There is also a Facebook page under the name Edmonds Veterans Plaza. Online donations can be made from either of those two sites.

Edmonds Veterans Plaza Update Design ElementsWhile we are, of course, looking for large sponsors who can support our project in substantial sums, in the end we will also need lots of small donations, so your online donation is welcome in any amount you can provide.

The important thing is for all of us associated with Veterans causes to do our part to promote and support the project in any way we can.