Senior Vice Commander Christopher Edwards recently presented a certificate of appreciation to the members of VFW Post #8870. Speaking on behalf of the recently inactivated 81st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, Chris thanked Post #8870 for its “meritorious support of our nation’s Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen”. Chris, who is the First Sergeant of the Headquarters Company, recognized the Post’s dedicated service to all veterans and members of their families. The certificate of appreciation was signed by Chris and the Brigade’s Commander, Captain Laura Martinez.
With only one dissenting vote out of 33 members attending the meeting, the Post voted to move its monthly meeting from our noon meeting to a 6PM meeting on the third Thursday of the month. The meetings will continue to be held at the American Legion Hall. We will have a meal at 5:15PM and the business meeting will commence at 6PM. The reason for the move is to allow our younger veterans (and a lot of older veterans, too) who are still working to attend the meetings. We also realize that for half the year it will be dark by the end of the meeting and for several months, it will be dark by the beginning of the meeting. Therefore, those comrades who cannot drive in the dark are urged to let us know and we shall arrange to have you picked up and dropped off at your home. Our Post was the only Post who met during the work week hours (Post 921 in Snohomish meets on Saturday afternoon) and we hope that this move will not only encourage younger members to join VFW but attend our meetings and enjoy the comradery of our members.
Ron Clyborne brought the Post up to date on the progress of Veterans Plaza. To condense it down to a tight paragraph, the project is moving forward but now comes the time to raise the necessary funds to bring it to fruition. The estimated cost is $450,000. I know that sounds like a ton of money, but this is a community project and we will need to have significant contributions from the community. Tom Mesaros, Army veteran, City Council member, and professional fund raiser is assisting us in putting together a citizens’ committee. In addition, VFW and AL will organize a fund raiser. Our target date for completion is November 11, 2016, Veterans Day.
At our March meeting, the Post charter was draped to honor the memory of Duane Pounds. During his many years as a member of Post #8870, Duane had served as Commander for five years and played a crucial role in keeping the Post active and successfully recruiting new members who, eventually, assumed leadership roles. Duane died on February 19 due to complications from a stroke. Julie, his wife of 66 years, had passed away last July, and Duane never fully recovered from her loss. Duane had also been an active member of many other community organizations such as American Legion Post #66, Nile Shrine Temple, Lakeside Masonic Lodge, and many others. In honor of Duane’s many contributions to our Post, Mike Reagan presented a portrait of Duane to his family. Accepting the portrait on behalf of the Pounds family was Duane’s daughter, Randi, her daughter Kelly, and three of Duane’s great grandchildren. Mike, of course, founded the Fallen Heroes Project, and over the years, he has drawn portraits of over 4,000 soldiers who have been killed during our nation’s war on terrorism. Julie and Duane had five children, 10 grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren.
The featured speaker at the March meeting was Past Commander Fred Apgar. Currently, he serves as Post Chaplain. During the Vietnam War, Fred served as an Air Force Intelligence Officer, flying missions in an airborne command post. His unit controlled the air war in northern Laos, and his responsibilities included the location of targets of opportunity, providing air support to friendly ground forces, and to maintain an order of battle of opposing forces. During December, 2014, Fred returned to Southeast Asia, spending two of his three weeks in northern Laos, visiting the villages and remote landing strips that were the sites of numerous battles between the CIA’s so-called “secret army” and opposing forces (i.e. North Vietnamese regulars and Pathet Lao). During his trip, Fred interacted with many Lao who proved to be most generous and friendly hosts. Some of whom he met had suffered physical and emotional trauma from the war and had lost family members. Incredibly, these victims felt no anger toward the United States, indicating “that was in the past”. In addition to meeting several men who had fought for the United States, Fred also met a man who had been a Captain in the North Vietnamese Army and another man who had fought for the Pathet Lao. In both instances, once they learned that Fred had served in the United States Air Force, there was an instant bonding and friendship. During his trip, he found a lot of evidence of the war; numerous bomb craters littered the landscape as did bomb casings and fuel tanks, destroyed armored vehicles and anti-aircraft guns.
Following his Naval service in the Pacific during WW II, Post member Norm Goldstein pursued a teaching career for the Seattle Public Schools that spanned for more than 30 years. Norm taught Chemistry and during his long career, he touched the lives of hundreds of students. Reacting to publicity regarding Norm’s recent induction as a member of VFW Post #8870, one of his former students, Douglas Johnson, sent a letter to the Post in which he expressed his thanks for the many contributions Norm had made to his education, lessons that taught him to “think, watch, and wait for those ‘Aha’ moments.” Douglas surprised Norm at the March meeting so he could personally recognize Norm as an outstanding teacher and for the positive contributions he had made to his personal life and subsequent career.
I first learned of Art King of Startup, WA from one of Post 2554’s members. Post 2554 is located in Sultan and Comrade Dave Silvewright , also known as the “Highway 2 Freedom Runner” (another story all to it’s self), was approached by Art during one of his runs and offered a Dignity Stick. The word spread to the Post that Art gave his sticks away for free to two sets of groups, the elderly and veterans. He doesn’t sell them to the public so those two groups are the only ones able to get them. Art doesn’t carve the figures that top the staffs but finds them in thrift stores or from other sources. However, he carefully shaves the staff of its bark, attaches a rubber cup to the base, and mounts whatever figure he has at the time. The assortment is endless, ranging from eagles, elephants, and even turtles. My father in law is a WWII Navy veteran and a life member of a VFW Post in San Jacinto, CA. He also has a couple of donkeys so I let it be known to Post 2554 Commander Chuck Donahue that I would like to get something with that theme from Art for my father in law. Sure enough, Art finally had the perfect walking stick which I then had carefully wrapped and shipped to CA. Art was recently featured on KOMO News and their website received emails from all over requesting the sticks. Assuming we have similar requests from our Post members, I contacted Chuck and asked him how we would get in contact with Art. He said he would coordinate getting the sticks from Art so either contact Chuck directly at
or let me know you wish to have one and I’ll give your information to Chuck. I am generally up at Goldbar, Sultan, or Monroe every month attending VFW meetings so I can make a Dignity Stick run in conjunction with one of the meetings.
Dennis Peterson and Terry Crabtree have come up with a way to personalize the American Legion Hall for our VFW meetings. As most of you know, there is an American Legion symbol that is approximately 6 feet in diameter behind the podium. While a number of us (and all us should be) are members of the American Legion, having a backdrop of the American Legion symbol during photo ops with speakers, students, or other guests at our VFW meetings is a bit confusing. We submit a number of pictures to the local newspapers and it is nice to push VFW when it is a VFW activity. The cover can quickly be removed and the Hall put back into the American Legion décor when the VFW meeting is finished.