Newsletter Articles

From the Bookshelf

by Mike Denton

Book review by Mike Denton How it is like to go to war by Karl Marlantes

In 1968, at the age of twenty-three, Karl Marlantes was dropped into the highland jungle of Vietnam, an inexperienced lieutenant in command of forty Marines who would live or die by his decisions. In his thirteen-month tour he saw intense combat, killing the enemy and watching friends die. Marlantes survived, but like many of his brothers in arms, he has spent the last forty years dealing with his experiences. 

In “What It Is Like to Go to War”, Marlantes takes a candid look at these experiences and critically examines how we might better prepare young soldiers for war. In the past, warriors were prepared for battle by ritual, religion, and literature—which also helped bring them home. While contemplating ancient works from Homer to the Mahabharata, Marlantes writes of the daily contradictions modern warriors are subject to, of being haunted by the face of a young North Vietnamese soldier he killed at close quarters, and of how he finally found a way to make peace with his past. Through it all, he demonstrates just how poorly prepared our nineteen-year-old warriors are for the psychological and spiritual aspects of the journey. 

This reader found some of his discussions of ritual, religion and literature a bit overstated, but it is clear that these thought processes and his writing (Marlantes has also written novels about the war) have become Marlantes’ personal way of dealing with his PTSD, perhaps allowing us to overlook a few excesses here and there. Overall, Marlantes expresses his individual view of war and its impact on young warriors well. This is, for the most part a well written book that might be of value to those who have not served, in understanding the vet’s world view.  

Fair Winds a & Following Seas Edgar Shepherd

WWII Navy Veteran dies at 101  

Fair Winds a & Following Seas Edgar Shepherd

Edmonds VFW Post 8870 lost one of its most senior members when Edgar Shepherd left us on January 27 at his home in Edmonds, surrounded by his family. Born July 4, 1918 in Trafford, PA, Ed celebrated his 101st birthday this past summer. Twice widowed, Ed is Survived by brother Thomas Shepherd, 4 children: 6 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren. 

Fair Winds a & Following Seas Edgar Shepherd

Edgar survived the sinking of USS Helena (CL50) in the Battle of Kula Gulf, July 6, 1943. The light cruiser, which had come through the Pearl Harbor attack, was tasked with protecting other ships during the Guadalcanal campaign. Nearly 170 shipmates perished. Shepherd was part of a group who survived, clinging to a liferaft. He kept a dollar bill signed by the sailors who survived with him. It was one of two bills he had in his pocket at the time. He used the other bill, a five, to pay for telegrams so they could tell their families they were alive. 

Ed joined the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. A Fire Control Technician, 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 aboard USS Louisville, CA28. He was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for work greatly enhancing the accuracy of the ship’s 8” guns. 

After finishing his time at sea, he helped start a Navy reserve center in Colorado before moving to California to help his uncle open a doughnut shop. He got a job in Los Angeles at an electrical company

A friend persuaded him to visit Seattle, and Shepherd bought a house in Edmonds where he was living at the time of his death with daughter

Paula Kilbourne. Paula once offered to take him whitewater rafting. He turned her down. She asked if he didn’t think she’d be a good guide. That’s not it, he told her. 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.  No local services were scheduled. Memorial contribution to Edmonds VFW, Edmonds Senior Center or the Lynnwood Elks are suggested. 

WWII Marine Corps Vet Dies at 100

WWII Marine Corps Vet Dies at 100

Clara Jennings, who served in the US Marine Corps during World War II, died just days after her 100th birthday, which was January 27. While not herself a member of VFW, she was the mother in law of member Dick Harsin, one of our Vietnam Navy veterans. The family has requested donations to be made to VFW Post 8870 in her honor. 

Many were honored with the opportunity to meet Jennings at the 2019 Veterans Day Ceremony at the Edmonds Veterans Plaza, where this photo was taken. 

VFW Post 8870 Announces Freedom Scholarship

By Don Stapleton 

Commander Rose Gililand has announced the Post will once again offer their Freedom Scholarship to graduating high school seniors. Student qualifications include having at least one sibling, parent, or grandparent that is a United States Military Veteran; and, reside within the Edmonds and Mukilteo Public School Districts. Students who reside within the boundaries of the districts but attend private schools or are home schooled are also eligible. Each of the four scholarships will be in the amount of $1,500.00 and will be awarded to seniors who will be enrolling full time at an accredited college, university or technical school. 

Students will be required to submit a transcript of their high school academic record and a resume that lists the high school activities in which they participated. In addition, applicants will be asked to write a 300-500-word essay in which they explain the meaning of freedom to them and how our Constitution establishes and maintains a culture of freedom in our country. 

Students may obtain a Freedom Scholarship application from the Career Centers in their high schools or it can be downloaded from the VFW Post web site at The deadline for the submission of the application and supporting materials is April 15, 2020. Scholarship recipients will be notified of their selection prior to their high school’s spring awards program. 

January Post Meeting Was Cancelled

The snow storm the week of January 15 caused the January meeting to be cancelled by Commander Rose Gililand, in the interest of the safety of our members and guests. 

The program for that meeting was to have featured our student essay winners and our Teachers of the year. That program has been shifted forward to the February meeting. Our meal will be provided by the post Auxiliary. 

Don’t miss it. 

Blue Water Navy Vietnam Vets and Agent Orange

New map helps Vets locate ship positions 
from “Military Times” 

A new interactive map could help ill Vietnam veterans who served on U.S. ships determine whether they could be eligible for Agent Orange-related benefits. The law allows veterans who served on a ship that operated within 12 nautical miles of a line of demarcation established by law and have an illness presumed related to herbicide exposure, to apply for health benefits and disability compensation. 

Blue Water Navy Vietnam Vets and Agent Orange

Over 1,700 deck logs have been plotted to date, and new information continues to be added. The map is hosted online by the disability law firm Hill & Ponton one of numerous law firms which vie to assist veterans in drafting and filing disability claims with VA.Veterans service organizations provide similar assistance free of charge. As part of filing disability claims, veterans must show they served on a U.S. vessel when it traversed the congressionally drawn zone. 

Veterans who were on ships that aren’t yet mapped or who served outside the zone, such as in the Gulf of Tonkin, should contact Military Veterans Advocacy and the Blue Water Navy Association if they have one of 14 diseases listed by the VA as linked to Agent Orange. They may still be able to file a claim

Nisei Veterans Day of Remembrance

Nisei Veterans Day of Remembrance: Community film screening and discussion

Community Film Screening and Discussion
3 p.m. Thursday, Feb 20
Black Box Theatre
Edmonds Community College
20000 68th Ave. W, Lynnwood
Free and Open to the public

The event will feature 2 films: “Proof of Loyalty” and “Honor and Sacrifice”. Both are by Lucy Ostrander and Don Sellers. After the films we will have a discussion panel with both of the film makers and Joyce Yamane, whose father is featured in Proof of Loyalty and Karen Matsumoto, daughter of Roy Matsumoto who is featured in Honor and Sacrifice. 

Michael Reagan did a series of drawings related to the Nisei (2nd Generation) Veterans and will bring a poster of them to the event. The event and films shed light on the living conditions and treatment of Japanese Americans both before America entered WWII, and after December 7th when many Americans of Japanese descent were sent to internment camps. Some of the people living in the camps joined the Military and served in one of two segregated units (100th or 442nd) that served with great distinction in Europe. 

Post Service Officer Set to Help Members

Don Whedon, Edmonds VFW Post 8870 Service Officer, sees a need for enhanced availability to VFW members in need of assistance in receiving their veterans benefits. The process of applying and gaining approval for medical, disability and other benefits can be daunting for the uninitiated. Don is here to help and is very experienced in this area. 

To that end Whedon will begin establishing some regular service hours for the Post. This will initially be located at the Edmonds American Legion Hall. In addition, Whedon can, when needed, make other arrangements to meet with individual veterans offsite. Veterans can contact Whedon directly: (425-218-0034) 

The first such session will be on Saturday, February 29, between 10 AM and 2 PM. We will have the coffee on and some donuts and such on hand. 

A one time telephone drive will be held concurrently to contact members of VFW Post 8870 who have overlooked renewing, to remind them to do so. Qualified Veterans not already members, are also welcome to stop by and put in their application. (Be sure to bring your DD214) 

Reminder: Order Your Edmonds Veterans PlazaVP Memorial Pavers

We still have room in our current flight of pavers. 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. You will find the order form on the Post web site. Cut and past the link below in your browser.

VFW Legion Christmas Party Well-attended

VFW Legion Christmas Party Well-attended. Many thanks to Paul Bustard

On Saturday, December 14, members of American Legion Post 66 and VFW Post 8870 gathered at the Legion Hall in Edmonds for our annual Christmas gathering. Many thanks to Paul Bustard for providing turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, which he has done for a number of years. 

In gratitude for Paul’s efforts, Post Commanders Les Abel and Rose Gilliland presented Paul with a handsome leather jacket, decorated with appropriate USMC insignia. Paul puts in many hours seeing that our annual event is well fed. 

Paul had a bit of an delay in getting the turkeys on time from Costco, his usual source, where there were some issues with timing expectations. By way of apology, the fine folks at Costco, provided the turkeys at no charge and also committed to continue providing the turkeys free in the future. The food; turkey, mashed potatoes, ham, and all the trimmings were delicious! 

VFW Legion Christmas Party Well-attended. support of his Fallen Heroes Foundation

Post Commanders Les Abel and Rose Gilliland presented checks from each post to Mike Reagan in support of his Fallen Heroes Foundation. 

A variety of items contributed by members of the two Posts were auctioned off to raise funds. Mike Reagan offered to produce two sketched portraits for winning bidders, which sold for a total of $ 1,000. Other items and door contributions came to $ 611. The total of $ 1,611 was split between the two posts. 

Past Commander Mike Denton with a Christmas gift

Reagan surprised (stunned might be a better word) Past Commander Mike Denton with a Christmas gift of a portrait sketch of Mike’s then teenaged mother, (shown at right) circa 1932, which he showed as a “sample” of his work. Reagan said he “mined” Facebook for the Denton photo. 

One of the long standing traditions of our Christmas party is the collection of toys for underprivileged children, and donations of food four our local food bank, which is developing a new focus on the needs of veterans for the coming year. Our comrades were generous as always in their donations. Commander Gilliland arranged for the delivery of the food donations to the food bank. and personally presented the toys to the Chaplain’s office at Naval Base Everett for appropriate distribution to children of active duty members of the armed forces.