First of all, special thanks goes to our Quartermaster Tom Hallums who once again got KP duty for a joint luncheon (Tom got the short straw last July for our BBQ with the Legion). However, Tom rose to the occasion and like the miracle of the fishes and the loaves, provided enough food to feed the hoards that showed up at the Legion Hall on December 17th. In addition, we brought enough toys to fill a pickup and enough canned and nonperishable food to feed many families as well. After the lunch was over, we drove the toys and food to the Edmonds Food Bank where they were distributed the next day to a lot of folks down on their luck in these hard times. On behalf of the Post, I want to personally thank the Legion for hosting the party and we enjoyed the camaraderie of both our fellow veterans and our family members who attended. An again, a special thanks to Tom for his hard work in making this all happen.
We made a run to both Orting and Retsil Old Soldiers Homes to deliver gift cards from Walmart and Fred Meyers to the residents. Each home received $1,000 in cards to give out at Christmas. In addition, we reached out to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Naval Station Everett to assist families and active duty personnel by delivering $500 of gift cards to the Chaplains of each base to dispense to those in need. Finally, we helped JBLM by providing funds to their Santa Room which provides toys to the children of active duty personnel who can’t afford to provide presents to their children. In the future we will reach out to the other branches of service to help make a merrier Christmas to all of those who serve.
“Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men.” Let me think, when was the last time we experienced ‘Peace’ real ‘Peace on Earth?’ Not in my life time. I was born in 1937. Wars were occurring around the globe, in China and in Europe. Now 2011 is coming to a close and 2012 is upon us. We have continued to experience wars even after WWI, The War to End All Wars! WWII, the Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam, First Gulf War, Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I could also mention Lebanon, Cuban Missile Crises, and many other crisis or conflicts in which we have participated and sacrificed men and women to preserve our freedom. Today our military is deployed around the world and in harm’s way. ‘Peace on Earth’ remains that illusive dream as far away today as it was when I was born 74 years ago. I strongly believe that as long as we humans fail to look to and rely on a Higher Power, a Power much stronger and knowledgeable than we, we will be faced with conflicts and wars. We have to accept, to believe, that only though Divine Guidance can we achieve Peace.
As we celebrate Christmas, the birth of the Prince of Peace, Our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ, let each of us give thanks to Him for His example as He showed us how to live. Let us each pray that His Peace which passes all understanding may be with us all. Until such time as His Peace reigns on earth, we need to have a strong military willing and able to defend our rights, including our right to worship as we see fit, as free men and women in a strong and free America. Although during the Christmas Season we first and foremost should thank our God, we should also thank those who find themselves away from home protecting what we hold most dear – our families, friends, and our American way of life. Without these dedicated military people, there would be no United States of America and we would lose the freedom and liberty we enjoy. ‘Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men.’ God Bless America, Land that I love. Stand Beside Her and Guide Her, through the Night with the Light from Above, From the Mountains, to the Prairie, to the Ocean white with Foam. God Bless America, My Home, Sweet Home.”
Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year. God Bless Our Troops!!
We invited the student essay winners to attend our December meeting and present their essays to a joint meeting of the Auxiliary and the Post. All any of us could say after they were done was “Wow”. Beginning with Amanda Harris, a 5th grader at Mukilteo Elementary who spoke of her father’s four tours in Afghanistan and the four times he has been wounded, Gunnar Brent our Patriot’s Pen winner, and finally Katarina Nguyen who won the Post’s Voice of Democracy for the third year in row. Katarina, whose parents were both born in Vietnam and fled after the Communist overran their country, interviewed a number of veterans from our Post. The veterans were from all the conflicts from WWII to the present wars in the far east. I have published her essay in whole on our website. Special thanks goes to Capt. Rock Roth for having, by far, the most successful essay contest in memory. We had a number of entries on all levels and Rock did a great job (along with Fred) grading them and selecting the winners. We wish them success at District One competition.
Our three teachers of the year are shown with Sr. Vice Commander Fred Apgar who was the individual in charge of the selection process. As Commander of the Post, I will say that Fred did a marvelous job and our three teachers are truly extraordinary educators. Pictured with Fred are Bridget Mahoney-Fernandes from Edmonds Woodway High School; Jami Samione, middle school teacher from Maplewood K-8 Parent Cooperative in Edmonds; and Robert Allen, a primary grade teacher in Mardrona K-8. The Post has submitted these individuals for consideration for District One Teachers of the Year, and, if chosen, will be submitted to Department for further consideration. If they are chosen at the Department level they will be honored at the Mid-Winter Conference being held in Yakima in January. And it would not be a far reach given this group of individuals to see one of them emerge as a candidate for the National VFW Teacher of the Year. Rock made a comment that patriotism is now beginning to thrive in the schools, and these folks are the reason why.
Upon his graduation from Shoreline High School in 1992, Chris enlisted in the Army. After completing basic training, he enrolled in a 58 week training program at Lowry AFB to learn how to use electronic testing equipment. He served in Kuwait in 1994 during Operation Vigilant Warrior after which he was assigned to Ft. Lewis. In 1997, Chris joined the Army Reserves, and he trained as a landing craft operator. Chris transferred to the National Guard three years later, becoming a reconnaissance scout in the 81st Brigade. In 2004, Chris was deployed to Iraq and served as a squad leader in a scout/sniper platoon. Upon his return to the States, Chris served as a scout sniper instructor in Yakima. During his second deployment to Iraq in 2008, Chris was as a scout platoon Sergeant, serving primarily in the area around Al Asad. Currently, Chris is the 1st Sergeant in the 81st Brigade, Special Troops Battalion. He and his wife live in Shoreline.
Jim grew up in Spokane and graduated from high school in 1952. Shortly after his graduation, Jim enlisted in the Navy and attended boot camp at the San Diego Naval Training Facility. A short time later, he was assigned to the USS Walton, a destroyer escort. His ship participated in operations off the coast of North Korea. After serving on active duty for two years, Jim served in a Naval Reserve unit while he attended Washington State University. He graduated from WSU with a degree in communications, and for the next 18 years, Jim worked as a disc jockey. His radio career began in Boise, Idaho, and after working in Idaho for five years, he assumed a similar role in two Seattle radio stations. Eventually, Jim started an advertising company in Seattle. His agency is now located in Edmonds, and more than half of the work that he does is pro bono for several charitable organizations. He and his wife, Linda, reside in Edmonds. They have one son and one grandchild.
Lee was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana and enlisted in the Navy after graduating from high school. After serving two years on the destroyer USS Rich, he was accepted into the NROTC program at Oregon State. After being commissioned in 1971, Lee served for the next 27 years in a variety of assignments. His shipboard assignments included that of Communication Officer and Navigator, Operations Officer, Executive Officer, and as Captain of the guided missile destroyer, USS Callaghan. Lee graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA and served in different staff positions in Hawaii and Saudi Arabia. His last shore assignment was as the Commander of the U.S. Naval Base in Sasebo, Japan. After retiring from the Navy in 1987, Lee worked as a civilian employee for the Department of Defense for five years. In 2003, Lee was named Federal Coordinating Officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a position which he still holds. Lee and his wife, Jonelle, reside in Edmonds. Their daughter, Andrea, is a Major in the U.S. Marine Corps, and she is a JAG officer at Camp Pendleton.
Gerald was born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado. When he was in junior high school, his family moved to Friday Harbor, Washington. After graduating from high school in 1965, Gerald attended college for a year and a half prior to enlisting in the Army. He completed basic training at Ft. Lewis and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Ft. Lee, Virginia. He was a Distinguished Graduate from AIT, which earned him an assignment to Vietnam. He worked as a supply clerk at Chu Lai during his one year tour. He returned to Ft. Lewis from which he was discharged in December 1971.
Troop 221 in Mill Creek stored all their camping equipment in a storage shed behind a Mill Creek church which sponsored them. Unfortunately, a low life stole everything leaving the troop with zippo in the way of gear. The Post made a donation to assist them in replacing their gear and we received a very nice thank you card signed by all the boys and their Troop Master, Capt. Mike Kidd, USN (ret). Hopefully, they will be back in business by the time summer arrives.
There will be a District meeting at the Boys and Girls Club on January 14th. Lunch is served at noon and the meeting will start at 1:00PM The District essay winners will be announced at the meeting so your support of our candidates would be appreciated.
I hope you all had a very merry Christmas and here are my wishes that you all have a very Happy New Year! Please bring your ideas for a good place for us to have a membership drive to the January meeting. You might want to suggest a time when you would be able to help us with this membership drive too.
What other things would you like us to do in the next few months? What more might we do to help get you to our meetings? We need your ideas and your participation. You can email me at email@example.com or call me at 206/853-5673 with your comments and ideas. Happy New Year!
In March 1969, I got off an airplane in Yakima after 18 months in Vietnam and called my Dad to pick me up at the airport. To kill the 10 or 15 minutes of time before my Dad could get to the airport (Yakima was a much smaller town in 1969); I dropped by the airport bar to grab a beer. Like any small town, it just so happened I knew the bar maid since I had taken her to her Prom when she was a sophomore at another school. She took a look at the ribbons I wore on my Class “A”s and commented it looked like I had “been around”. She then proceeded to ignore me and charged me for my beer. I realized I was back in the “world” and most of the “world” didn’t particularly like me or any Vietnam veterans. Welcome home. I tied to pass it off, but since I had already received a few ugly looks on the trip up from the Oakland Army Base where I had been discharged, I figured I’d better move on to civilian life ex post facto. A few months later I ran into a couple of my high school buddies who had been “in country” and we wandered over to the local VFW Post where we knew the beer was cheap and figured we would join. However, we had busted into the “an old timers bar” and that was somewhat akin into stumbling into a minefield wearing snowshoes and the chill in the air required long-johns. We eventually were accepted by the Post but wandered away as we moved on, got our college degrees, married, and raised families. With time, we circled back and became involved in VFW activities. So when I hear that VFW isn’t relevant to the generation of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, there is a bit of a familiar ring to it. However, we need to reach out to those younger veterans as brothers and sisters because we know that they have “walked the walk” and paid their dues to become eligible as VFW comrades. And we tip our hats to them because we know they put their asses on the line just as we did as did those who came before us and for that, we welcome them as equals. We, as a Post and as an organization, will do all that we can to protect the benefits they have earned (operative word “earned”) and look out for their interests as they transition to civilian life by making sure that Congress and the VA keeps their commitments to this generation of veterans. All of the members in our Post and every Post with which I am familiar, welcome the younger vets. So let me reach out on behalf of all of our members to welcome our younger veterans by giving the traditional greeting between Vietnam Veterans – “Welcome Home”.
The annual inspection was performed by District 1 inspector Elmer Johnson prior to the November 11th meeting. The Post past the inspection as it has in the past years due to the meticulous accounting and attention to details by our (former—more later) Quartermaster Elizabeth Mather. However, the inspection wasn’t without some stress. While Elizabeth delivered the records to me to bring to the meeting, she fell and slashed her shin open, the cut requiring 36 stiches. She’s on the mend and hopefully will have no lasting effects from the injury.