On Saturday, August 18, at 4:00 PM, VFW Post 8870 and American Legion Post 66 will gather to celebrate the 100th birthdays of two of our members; Buck Weaver, World War II fighter pilot and Ed Shepherd, Navy Veteran, also of World War II. Please join us for a spaghetti dinner, beverages and celebration of our senior comrades. All are invited, bring family and friends.
In the photo at above, Gary Walderman, who served in Desert Storm, hugs Verdant Community Wellness Center’s Robin Fenn after presenting her and other staff members with challenge coins during The Hero’s Cafe in Lynnwood. At right is Jennifer Piplic. (Photo by Andy Bronson / The Herald)
The Hero’s Cafe is a monthly gathering for all veterans to focus on fostering positive outreach, interaction, and welfare within the neighboring community. Vets are welcome to drop in any time between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month. The next Hero’s Cafe takes place on August 28. There will be food and coffee at each gathering. For questions or more information, contact Gary Walderman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Post Chaplain, Dan Doyle a Navy Corpsman and Fleet Marine Force veteran, has taken it upon himself to join what is becoming the South Shohomish County VFW Honor Guard. At the July Post meeting, Dan filled us in on the nature and functions of the Honor Guard.
Started as the Lynnwood Post1040 Honor Guard and still run by that Post, it was organized primarily to provide burial services to veterans in our area, but they also participate in other events, such as Wreaths Across America where appropriate. Demand for the group’s services has grown dramatically in recent years and as new volunteers are need to share the load, the group is morphing into a combined unit of all South County posts.
Members are uniformed, (funded by Post 1040) and rifles owned by all of the participating posts (8870 has three M1 Grarands) are utilized. While at least one excellent bugler is involved, but if you are a bugle/trumpet player, your services would be of value.
Doyle spoke of the satisfaction he has found in provided this service to grieving families and believes other members will appreciate the opportunity to serve.
For more information on how to get involved, contact Chaplain Doyle.
The Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline have joined with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to create the Veterans Self-Check Quiz. This is a safe, easy way to learn whether stress and depression might be affecting you.
Using this service is completely voluntary and confidential.
You must be at least 18 years old to complete the Self-Check Quiz. You will find the quiz at: https://www.vetselfcheck.org/
If you need immediate help, use the Veterans Crisis Line.
Excerpt from “The Atlantic” ongoing series looking back at 1968
The Battle of Khe Sanh began 50 years ago when roughly 20,000 North Vietnamese troops surrounded an isolated combat base held by roughly 5,500 Marines. The marines could not be reinforced or resupplied except by air, and the enemy had attacked during monsoon season, when the weather would limit flights. General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, ordered them to fight to hold the base rather than evacuate.The North Vietnamese hoped to repeat the sort of victory won years earlier at Dien Bien Phu, when similarly besieged French forces were overrun and slaughtered.
President Johnson followed the 77- day ordeal with a scale model of the battlefield in the Oval Office.
The public read about the besieged marines in newspapers as the fighting unfolded: the Marines bombarded by artillery and reliant on resupply from aircraft that came under heavy fire on approach and departure.
The Marines ultimately held the base at a cost of 274 killed. 2,500 were wounded. Thousands of Vietnamese fighters were killed.
The success of a volunteer organization is always entirely dependent of the efforts of its membership and that is particularly true when it comes to the recruiting and retention of members. In the Veterans of Foreign Wars, membership is everyone’s responsibility.
When a veteran is invited to join our group, he or she is going to ask “What’s in it for me?”. The best answer to that, in a post as active as ours is to get them to a meeting or activity so they can see the benefits of membership for themselves. Our new Edmonds Veterans Plaza can be an excellent tool for this purpose.
VFW says numbers matter and they do. When we lobby Congress for strong support for the Veterans Administration, they want to know that we represent a large number of veterans, who represent a large number of votes. Numbers also matter when we are staffing the tables for poppy distribution on Memorial Day and Veterans Day; when we participate in the July 4 festivities and when we support Veterans in need.
Even if a member is not active, their membership is important to let everyone know that we are together in supporting veterans interests.
We all have friends and family who are qualified veterans, but are not members. Reach out to them. Invite them to a meeting so they can see “What is in it for them”.
With three 100 year old members!
A large contingent of VFW and American Legion members participated in the annual “Edmonds Kind of 4th” Parade, stepping off at noon on a beautiful July 4 in downtown Edmonds. Jim Traner arranged for and towed a flat bed trailer equipped with chairs for those who may walk with difficulty, as others marched along behind the colors.
Three of our comrades attending the parade this year celebrate reaching the century mark.
Ed Shepherd (100 on July 4), Don Raliegh and Buck Weaver all will reach that milestone this year.
At above, the VFW Post 8870 color guard leads the parade.
Thanks to Dick Simmons for organizing the color guard and to its members for their efforts. Walking a mile and a half with those flags under a warm sun is a bit of work.
American Gold Star Mothers
The American Gold Star Mothers brought something new to the parade this year, arranging for banners with the images of theiir fallen loved ones to be carried in the parade.
Chamber organizers passed on this comment:
“I attended with my young family and thought it was the best parade yet (and they are all good!). In particular, I especially enjoyed the group who brought huge pictures of soldiers from our area who had died in service. It was very moving and special and felt patriotic to STAND as they passed and explain to my children why we STAND.
Naturally, we also love the veterans when they go by and stand for them too.”
Above, VFW Post 8870 member Kerry Watkings distributes flags for parade goers along the route.
Below, Kerry is joined by Post 8870 Quartermaster Dennis Peterson.
Photos courtesy Edmonds Chamber of Commerce
The World War II veteran, who survived the sinking of a Navy ship in 1943 and raised a family that honors his humor as well as his heroism, celebrated his 100th birthday on the Fourth of July.
Shepherd waved from a float during the parade in Edmonds on the 4th. Then he gathered with loved ones at a post-parade barbecue and party at the Elks Lodge. He shared a long table with four generations of his family, including his brother, daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Friends sat around other tables.
Edgar Shepherd survived the sinking of the USS Helena in the Battle of Kula Gulf. 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 lifeboat.
He kept a dollar bill signed by the sailors who survived. 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.
Shepherd was born in Pennsylvania, one of four brothers. He joined the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. 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, 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 where he worked for 24 years.
A friend persuaded him to visit Seattle, and Shepherd bought a house in Edmonds. He lives there with daughter Paula Kilbourne.
She 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 clung to a rubber raft, adrift in dark waters after the USS Helena sank. He wasn’t interested in getting on a raft again.
Photos The Herald, Article excerpted from The Herald article by Kari Bray, July 5, 2018
Members of the VFW Honor Guard perform military ceremonies for deceased veterans. Included, above center is Post 8870 Chaplain Dan Doyle at a recent graveside ceremony. Members interested in participating are encouraged to join these comrades in their service mission. Chaplain Doyle can assist you with further information.
The eight-point Veteran’s Creed
- I am an American Veteran
- I proudly served my country
- I live the values I learned in the military
- I continue to serve my community, my country and my fellow veterans
- I maintain my physical and mental discipline
- I continue to lead and improve
- I make a difference
- I honor and remember my fallen comrades
Ernest H. (Ernie) Luke, Sr, the brother-in-law of Post Commander Mike Denton was buried next to Mike’s sister Karen on July 9, in Kennewick, WA. Military honors were rendered by a Marine Corps contingent and by Kennewick VFW Post 5785. He was 89 years old.
Three weeks prior to his death, he was awarded the Korean Peace Medal by the Korean Consul General along with other Korea Vets in a ceremony in Richland.
Luke enlisted in the Marine Corps at the age of 17 and served in China at the end of WWII and later in the army on MacArthur’s staff in Korea.
The service of the Marines in China at the end of the war is not well known, but involved receiving the surrender of Japanese forces remaining and protecting those troops from communist forces. A detailed history can be found via this link. http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/usmchist/nochina.txt
Originally from Kentucky, Luke attended college on the GI Bill, receiving a degree in Physics (later a masters degree) and worked in avionics design with Boeing & Rockwell, and more recently in security systems design at Hanford, where he retired. He leaves his third wife Verla, and the children of Karen and Verla to whom he was step-father, as well as his own three children, Ernest Jr, Susan and David.
As we have previously reported, Mike Reagan produced set of “Fallen Hero” portraits (shown below in poster form) for the families of Polish KIAs of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts, which were of course well received by those families in Poland.
On the Sunday before Fathers Day, Mike was awarded a Polish medal in honor of his work at a ceremony in Redmond. The medal was presented by Major General Cezary Wisniewski of the Polish Air Force. The General is known as the Polish F16 “Ace” and trainer for their air force and is expected to be the next Commanding General of the Polish Armed Forces.
Mike also learned that three Polish Soldiers are riding their bikes across the USA to remember their fallen, and began in LA recently. They are headed to the East Coast. They stop everyday and set-up a display of their fallen. “Yep, they are using posters made up of my portraits to show the USA who their fallen are”. They all fell, 66 of them, fighting with American Special Forces.
Michael G. Reagan Portrait Foundation
“Our mission is to honor the American Fallen Heroes for their ultimate sacrifice during the war against terrorism. The foundation will provide the resources to produce and distribute to each family a hand-drawn portrait of their Fallen Hero, created by artist Michael G. Reagan, free of charge. Each portrait is intended to show our Love and Respect for these Heroes and their families.”
Mike has drawn over 5,000 portraits of deceased veterans.