Just before Christmas, Post 8870 Vice Commander Carl Kurfess visited Retsil Washington Veterans home to deliver gift cards woth a total of $ 1,000, purchased from our Veterans Relief Fund to staff member Tami Reuter. Washington Veterans Home Retsil is a 240 unit senior care communityand has been a recipient of support from our Post relief Fund for many years.
State Grant Funds Awarded
We continue to raise funds for the ongoing maintenance and improvement of the Edmonds Veterans Plaza. Shown below are Commander Rose Gilliland and Past Commander Jim Traner being presented with a check for $ 1,000 from a representative of the Governor’s Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee. This grant money is raised through the sale of Veterans Remembrance Emblems. The emblems include campaign ribbons or military awards, and are stickers that can be placed on Washington license plates. This grant is the result of an application made by Maria Montalvo of the EVP Committee.
The VAAC is authorized to disperse funds for projects that pay tribute to living and deceased veterans.
The VAAC Operates with the motto of No Veteran Forgotten, and serves in an advisory capacity to the Governor and the Director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
At the November post meeting, the need for a new Post Trustee to replace Jim Murdock, who is now our Adjutant, was announced. Past Commander Mike Denton has agreed to accept the vacant Trustee post effective immediately.
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.