Newsletter Articles

Chaplain’s Corner—Rock Roth

This is a TRUE e-mail from a young ensign aboard USS Winston Churchill (DDG-81) to her parents. Churchill is an Arleigh Burke class AEGIS guided missile destroyer, commissioned March 10, 2001, and is the only active US Navy warship named after a foreign national. This True Story tells of an event that occurred shortly after the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001.  It provides a good example of the espirit de corps felt between members of the military, even those of other nations.  Military members, no matter what the service or county, have shared and lived through similar experiences, experiences not shared by our civilian counterparts, experiences civilians cannot really understand or appreciate.  I also believe that we with military experience share closeness to our God that ‘others’ cannot easily understand or appreciate.  “There are no atheists in a foxhole”, and “There are no atheists in the cockpit of an aircraft landing on a pitching carrier deck on a dark, cloudy, rainy night”.  In researching the following I learned that the author was a young Navy Officer, Megan Hallinan.  The letter was written to her father.  The letter was posted on the US Navy website by the Navy Office of Information on 26 September 2001.  —–

We are still at sea. The remainder of our port visits have all been cancelled. We have spent every day since the attacks going back and forth within imaginary boxes drawn in the ocean, standing high-security watches, and trying to make the best of it. We have seen the articles and the photographs, and they are sickening. Being isolated, I don’t think we appreciate the full scope of what is happening back home, but we are definitely feeling the effects. About two hours ago, we were hailed by a German Navy destroyer, Lutjens, requesting permission to pass close by our port side. Strange, since we’re in the middle of an empty ocean, but the captain acquiesced and we prepared to render them honors from our bridgewing. As they were making their approach, our conning officer used binoculars and announced that Lutjens was flying not the German, but the American flag. As she came alongside us, we saw the American flag flying half-mast and her entire crew topside standing at silent, rigid attention in their dress uniforms. They had made a sign that was displayed on her side that read “We Stand By You.”

There was not a dry eye on the bridge as they stayed alongside us for a few minutes and saluted. It was the most powerful thing I have seen in my life. The German Navy did an incredible thing for this crew, and it has truly been the highest point in the days since the attacks. It’s amazing to think that only half-century ago things were quite different. After Lutjens pulled away, the Officer of the Deck, who had been planning to get out later this year, turned to me and said, “I’m staying Navy.” I’ll write you when I know more about when I’ll be home, but this is it for now.

Love you guys,

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Service – Naval Station Everett

All veterans regardless of service or conflict are being invited to the Peal Harbor Remembrance service on December 7th, at 1000 hrs. at the Grand Vista Ballroom.  However, if you wish to attend you must get prior clearance.  I have arranged to be the point man and submit a list of everyone who wishes to attend in advance.  So if you are interested, please let me know ASAP.  You can email me at commander@vfw8870.org.   By the way, this is the 70th anniversary of Peal Harbor Day so it should be a special event.

Mike Reagan and 3rd Place Books

Jim Adams did a great job of organizing and promoting Mike’s speaking engagement at 3rd Place Books.  Approximately 70 folks showed up and attended the event.  Seated in the front row were a Gold Star mother and father who’s son portrait was drawn several years ago.  At the time they lived in the Midwest and only recently moved to the NW.  Having them in attendance just brought to attention that this project is about supporting the families of the fallen.  After the speech, the Post presented Mike a check for $1,000 to support his work.  Mike told me later that the Gold Star parents had made a similar contribution.  We will continue, as a Post, to assist him in his efforts.

Legion/VFW Christmas Party

The annual American Legion Post 66 & Post 8870’s Christmas party is being held December 17th at 2PM at the Legion Hall at 6th and Dayton.  Families are invited and the more the merrier.  In order to have sufficient food for everyone, we need to get a head count so if you intend to participate, let the Quartermaster know as soon as possible.  The cost of admission is non-perishable food items which will be donated to the Food Bank.  In addition, bring an unwrapped toy (or two) and we will make sure they will get to a needy child.  We had a packed house last year and look forward to another great event this year.  At this time it looks as if this will be a potluck event.  Once we get a head count and menu, we will send out an email as to who brings what.

Post’s Teachers of the Year

Robert Allen, a primary grade teacher at the Madrona K-8 School, was named Elementary Teacher of the Year for our Post.  He is described by his Principal as being a model of courtesy, thoughtfulness, humility, and respect for his students and colleagues.  Robert is a dedicated professional who strives to make a difference in the lives of those with whom he works and serves.  For many years, Robert has helped organize school assemblies and special programs designed to honor and respect our nation’s veterans.  Robert is a graduate of the University of Washington and earned a Master’s Degree from Antioch University.  He has been teaching since 1997.  He lives in Seattle.

The Post’s Middle School Teacher of the Year is Jami Samione who teaches 8th grade Social Studies at the Maplewood K-8 Parent Cooperative in Edmonds.  Jami was recognized for her expertise and passion for building on the ideals of democracy through improved citizenship.  Through the use of interactive online program called “Civic Mirror”, Jami’s students create their own country for the purpose of instilling in them a love, commitment and respect for civic involvement.  Jami has received B.S. and Master’s degrees from Western Washington University, and she began her teaching career in 1995.  She and her family reside in Edmonds.

Bridget Mahoney-Ferandes was recognized as the Post’s High School Teacher of the Year.  Her teaching career began in California in 1988, and she has been a Social Studies teacher at Edmonds-Woodway High School since 1997.  She has a passion for American History, and her curriculum emphasizes an understanding and appreciation of our nation’s founding documents and institutions.  Students are placed in a variety of simulations, which promote responsible decision-making skills.  Bridget models the meaning of being an active citizen, one who serves her school-community.  Students recognize and praise her for her ability to “connect” with them, which inspires and motivates them to become active learners.  Bridget and her family live in Edmonds.

The Last Word

A couple of things.  First, I want to say thank you to Elizabeth Mather for all the work she has done for the Post as Quartermaster.  The best thing about being Commander is you know who does the work of the Post and first, and foremost, it is the Quartermaster.  Second, you know who does the work accurately and completely because you get to see all the correspondence from Department requesting this or that from the other Posts but never a request to 8870.  And finally, I want to publically thank Elizabeth in The Last Word as there are a number of you who can’t attend meetings.

As the article in this newsletter stated, the Post also participated in the memorial service  for Mary Justason, the Post’s first QM.  While preparing to say a few words about Mary at the service, I spoke with Art Perry, the first Commander of Post 8870 when it was formed in 1982.  It sounds like Mary and Elizabeth were cut out of the same mold.  Everything he said about Mary applied equally to Elizabeth.  The bottom line is Art and I were equally lucky to have two fine Quartermasters taking care of Post 8870 under our commands.

Support the Hometown Heroes Raffle (a repeat request from last month)

The Washington Department of Veterans Affairs is sponsoring a raffle in conjunction with the Washington State Lottery.  The proceeds will go to provide financial assistance to soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan through the Veterans Innovations Program.  Tickets are $10 and the proceeds of every ticket sold directly benefits soldiers and their families.  The drawing is November 11th.

November Post and Auxiliary Meeting Moved to American Legion Hall

Our November meeting falls on Veterans Day and the Edmonds Senior Center will be closed.  We have moved the meeting to the American Legion Post 66 Hall on 6th and Dayton in Edmonds.  Lunch will be served.  We are starting a pool and betting on how many members show up at the closed Senior Center on the 11th.  I can think of one for sure (and no, I won’t disclose my guess), but my bet is three.  Please make me lose the bet by showing up at the correct location.

Honor Flight — Erv Schmidt and Robert Otto

At the  October meeting we were treated to Erv and Tom Hallums relate their story of the journey to Washington DC on an Honor Flight trip.  Honor Flight is an organization dedicated to flying as many WWII veterans to the Capital to view the WWII Memorial.   Tom, a Korean War vet, accompanied Bob Otto while Erv was accompanied by his son, a Vietnam vet.  They were treated first class during the entire trip and, while just a two day visit, were guided to all the veterans’ memorials, not just the WWII Memorial.  A few interesting facts; the Memorial was built entirely from donations from the public.  The Memorial is the only memorial between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.  It wasn’t built without controversy as a number of people did not want any memorial to be located in this area.  Hopefully, we will be able to assist a couple of more members take the Honor Flight in the Future.

New Member Profiles — Pete Farmer

Pete grew up in Winchester, Virginia and attended Virginia Military Institute.  Upon his graduation from VMI, he was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the U. S. Army and received advanced training in field artillery.  He volunteered and served two tours of duty in Vietnam.  During his first tour in 1969, Pete was stationed in 2nd Corps.  When he returned to Southeast Asia, Pete saw action at several fire bases throughout South Vietnam.  After serving in the Army for eight years, Pete was discharged from Fort Lewis in 1976.  Two years later, he returned to the Pacific Northwest, living in Seattle.  He is a retired banking executive, and he and his wife, Patty, now reside in Edmonds.  They have two sons, one who lives in Oregon, and their youngest son is a student at his father’s alma mater, VMI.