Author Archive: Editor

Order Your EVP Memorial Pavers Now

Order Your EVP Memorial Pavers Now

If you, or someone you know wishes to honor a veteran, living or dead, we continue to expand our memorial pavers project in the plaza. Ideally, an additional five paver orders would round out the next installation phase. The cost is $ 500, which includes engraving & installation. 

The order form is reproduced below. Send your order by mail to VFW Post 8870, PO Box 701, Edmonds, WA 98020, with your check made out to the Post. You can also bring your order and check to the Post meeting and hand it to Jim Traner. 

Order Your EVP Memorial Pavers Now

VFW District 1 Newsletter Inaugurated

You should all have received an email copy of the new District 1 Newsletter recently. District Commander Doug White ordered the initiation of this communication tool, which is to be published quarterly. It’s purpose, of course is to let all of us be more aware of what is going on with all eight of the Posts in our district. (Posts 921, Snohomish; 1040, Lynnwood; 1561, Arlington; 2100, Everett; 2554, Sultan; 7511, Monroe; 8870, Edmonds and 9417, Goldbar.) 

At the moment, we are not producing hard copies. 

If you have material (including photos) to contribute to either publication, direct them to your editor: editor@VFW8870.org 

Fred Apgar Remembers

The following is an except from Fred’s 8-part reminiscence of his trip to Vietnam and Laos, to retrace his steps from the war. You can find the entirety of his writing on his Facebook page, some of which have also been posted on our Post 8870 FB page.

Meeting Seng Keu 

Route 7 is a major route in northern Laos. It connects North Vietnam with the PDJ in the center of northern Laos. A major infiltration route for the North Vietnamese, it remained under Communist control throughout the war; however, our CIA supported Army of Hmong (ethnic Laotian hill people) conducted regular operations in the area and the road was continually surveilled by airborne FACs and subjected to routine interdiction sorties. 

Fred Apgar Remembers Meeting Seng Keu
Comrades reunited

Nong Het is the eastern most town on Route 7, lying just a few miles from the border with Vietnam. The village has the distinction of being the birthplace and childhood home of General Vang Pao, the leader of the Hmong Army. At Nong Het, we met, quite randomly on the street Seng Keu, an 80 years old Hmong. Upon hearing that I had been in the Air Force, he jumped up, grabbed my arms and told me we had been comrades. He told us his story. 

Seng Keu served in the Hmong Army. He had fought with a Special Guerrilla Unit (SGU)almost exclusively in Barrel Roll, (Operation Barrel Roll was a covert U.S. Air Force and Navy Task Force interdiction and close air support campaign conducted in the Kingdom of Laos from 1964 to 1973, concurrent with the Vietnam War.) moving from Lima Site to Lima Site as the ebb and flow of operations dictated. Initially, his unit, like most of the newly formed SGU units engaged in guerrilla operations, ambushing enemy units and then quickly retreating into the relative safety of the jungle. In time, however, Vang Pao’s forces began to be used in more of a conventional warfare role, against NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and PL (Pathet Lao) forces, with U.S. air support. 

I sat, mesmerized, as Seng Keu ticked off the names of the familiar locations at which he had engaged NVA and PL forces in skirmishes. Seng Keu was delighted to learn I had been involved in the war in Barrel Roll. When I told him our call sign was Alleycat, he held my hands and thanked me for the many nights when Alleycat had sent Spooky (gunships) to his team when they were engaged with the enemy. We marveled at how the paths of our lives had crossed so many years ago. It was as if we had always been friends and brothers. 

We talked more about Seng Keu’s life during the war. He and his wife had raised 14 children, five of whom had died. Two of his sons had died while fighting against the PL and NVA. I felt privileged to have met a person with whom I shared a wonderful moment of bonding, respect, and friendship. At one time, we had been connected on the battlefields of Laos, and 45 years later, we re-discovered that connection. 

VFW/American Legion Combined Christmas Party Slated

VFW/American Legion Combined Christmas Party

Our annual Christmas gathering will be held on Saturday, December 14. We plan to follow our usual program and start to gather at noon, with dinner, consisting of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and all the usual trimmings to be served at 1:00. 

VFW/American Legion Combined Christmas Party

Side dishes and desserts are to be provided on a “pot luck” basis by members who have signed up in advance to do so. 

The event will feature an auction of items donated by the Post staffs, the proceeds of which will be shared between the two posts. We will also again be collecting new, unwrapped toys for needy kids and food items for the food bank. 

VFW/American Legion Combined Christmas Party

It promises to be a good time with plenty of food and beverages and the company of good friends and family. The accompanying photos from earlier years, should get you in the mood! 

Meet New Member Dick Harsin

 Meet New Member Dick Harsin
Harsin takes the oath as OOD Jim Collins looks on

Dick served on active duty with the Navy from 1969 through 1980, and was a “Blue Water” Sailor during Vietnam. Dick served as a supply officer (Lieut.) on the USS Sperry (sub tender) and on USS Vesuvius (ammunition ship). He spent 383 days off the coast of Vietnam providing ammunition to ships from destroyers to aircraft carriers. Later, Dick was inventory control officer at NAS Whidbey Island; Supply Officer and Comptroller at NAS Agana Guam and finally DOD disposal officer at Defense Logistics Command Ogden Utah. 

In 1980 Dick started his CPA business which he sold in 1995. Since 1995 he has worked in wealth management, financial planning and tax strategy planning. 

Dick and wife Nancy have been married for 45 years and have two daughters one living in Lake Forest Park the other living in Anchorage. They have seven grandkids ranging in age between 10 and 24. 

Over the years Dick has been heavily involved in child abuse prevention programs and has served on various national boards. He is the minor league coordinator for Pacific Little League and also for more than 18 years served as manager of a minor league team (ages nine through 11) for Pacific Little League. Dick is, along with several other members of our Post, also a member of the Rotary Club of Edmonds, Daybreakers. 

Post 8870 Members Awarded Quilts of Honor

Post 8870 Members Awarded Quilts of Honor.

In November, two more of our World War II veteran members were awarded Quilts of Honor, following on the group of four awarded in September. 

Edgar Shepherd survived the sinking of the USS Helena in the Battle of Kula Gulf in south Pacific action against the Japanese Imperial Navy in World War II. The light cruiser, which had come through the Pearl Harbor attack, was tasked with protecting other ships in the South Pacific during the Guadalcanal campaign. The Helena went down on July 6, 1943. Nearly 170 crewmen died. Shepherd was part of a group that clung to a life raft. 

On the USS Helena, he worked in the plotting room, which included the control system for the guns. He also fought in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

After finishing his time at sea, Shepherd helped start a Navy reserve center in Colorado before moving to California to help his uncle open a doughnut shop. He later got a job in Los Angeles at an electrical company where he worked for 24 years. He lives in Edmonds with daughter Paula Kilbourne. Paula once offered to take him whitewater rafting. He turned her down. He had clung to a rubber raft, adrift in dark waters after the USS Helena sank. He wasn’t interested in getting on a raft again. Ed celebrated his 101st birthday on July 4, 2019. 

Post 8870 Members Awarded Quilts of Honor

Dan White Enlisted in the Army in 1946, served nearly two years, and was called back in 1950. A retired middle school teacher, White lives in Redmond but spent years in the Edmonds area and remains an active member of Post 8870. In Korea, he flew a modified Cessna called an L-19. His duties involved adjusting artillery. Back home, he and his wife raised four boys. He earned two degrees, stayed in the reserves and retired as a colonel. 

Edmonds Mayor Honored for EVP Support

Edmonds Mayor Honored for EVP Support

At a November meeting of the Edmonds City Council, Mayor Dave Earling was presented with his portrait by Fallen Heroes Project artist Mike Reagan, in recognition of his work in support of the Edmonds Veterans Plaza. Earling will end his service as Mayor in January of 2020 after serving two full terms. 

The backing and support of the City and its leaders has been invaluable to the completion of the Plaza. 

THANK YOU Mr. Mayor! 

From the Bookshelf

From the Bookshelf

Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal

by James D. Hornfischer 

The Battle of Guadalcanal has long been heralded as a Marine Corps victory and not without reason. Now, with his powerful portrait of the Navy’s sacrifice, James D. Hornfischer tells the full story of the men who fought in destroyers, cruisers, and battleships in the narrow, deadly waters of “Ironbottom Sound.” Here are the seven major naval actions that began in August 1942, a time when the war seemed unwinnable and America fought on a shoestring, with the outcome always in doubt. Hornfischer paints a vivid picture of the officers and enlisted men who opposed the Japanese in America’s hour of need. It is worth noting that despite long a standing Marine view that the Navy abandoned the Marines to their own devices at Guadalcanal, (and one can understand that view) in the end USN KIA (5041) vastly exceeded those of the USMC ashore (1,592). 

It is an honor to once again review a book which tells a story lived by one of our Post 8870 comrades, in this case 101 year old Edgar Shepherd, member of the ship’s company of USS Helena, a key participant in the actions described in this book and lost the year following the Guadalcanal campaign at the battle of Kula Gulf. From the Bookshelf It is an honor to once again review a book which tells a story lived by one of our Post 8870 comrades, in this case 101 year old Edgar Shepherd, member of the ship’s company of USS Helena, a key participant in the actions described in this book and lost the year following the Guadalcanal campaign at the battle of Kula Gulf. 

Veterans Day in the Plaza 2019

Veterans Day in the Plaza 2019
Commander Gilliland

More than 350 veterans, families, kids and well-wishers overflowed onto the sidewalks surrounding the Edmonds Veterans Plaza Monday afternoon, all drawn by one purpose — to honor, remember and connect with our military veterans. 

Dan Doyle, VFW Post 8870 Chaplain, gave an emotional invocation that crystalized in a few words the meaning of the day. 

Veterans Day in the Plaza 2019
Chaplain Doyle

“We’re here today to honor those who at some point in their lives signed a blank check to give, up to even their lives, in service to you,” he said, “so that you and we all could enjoy the liberties, peace and privileges of this nation.” 

Emcee Rose Gilliland, VFW Post 8870 Commander, then took over: “I feel like I’m sitting in a living history today,” she began. “I’m surrounded by veterans who have lived it, breathed it and done it.” She went on to call on attendees from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War and Operation Enduring Freedom (the War on Terror) to be recognized. 

Veterans Day in the Plaza 2019
Rep. Peterson speaking

Keynote speaker was State Representative Strom Peterson, who recalled how the Edmonds Veterans Plaza got its start during his tenure serving on the Edmonds City Council. “It was about five years ago that a core group of organizers put their energies together to turn this area into a special place to honor veterans,” he said. “With dogged determination, this core group provided the energy and inspiration to accomplish this in record time.” Peterson went on to stress the key role of the plaza in providing a place to make connections.“For those who did not have the opportunity to serve, it’s a place to connect with and learn from those who did,” he explained. “For veterans like Michael Reagan who walks by my house every day on his daily pilgrimage to the plaza, it’s a place to make connections with his friends, some of whom didn’t make it back. And for all of us, it’s a place to remember what it means to serve our country and our community.” 

Veterans Day in the Plaza 2019
Clara Jennings, WWII Marine veteran turns 100 in January

Jim Traner then announced the names of those honored with newly placed pavers in the plaza: 

Ron Pajoman, Navy 1960-1965
Chuck Smith, Army 1963-1999
Patrick Marker, Marines 1944-1946; 1950-1951
John, Gregg and Kim Sharp, Marines, Navy and Navy respectively (single paver) 
Beau Crabtree, Army 1991-2001
Donald Stapleton, Air Force, 1957-1978
William Cobb, Marine 1966-1968 
Edward Johnson, Navy 1942-1946 
Paul Hauck, Army 1944-1946; 1947-1963 
Jim Roy Harrison, Navy 1942-1945 
Jack Oharah, Navy 1962-1966 
Jeffrey James Curtis, Marines, 1966-1967 

Gold Star Mother Monica McNeal was on hand to present a Vietnam War 50-year commemorative pin to Vietnam veterans who had not previously received one. The program closed with Mike Denton leading attendees in a chorus of “God Bless America”. 

Veterans Day in the Plaza 2019
8 year old John Wyatt examines military memorabilia.