At more than 1,200 locations across America, including Seattle-area cemeteries, more than half a million wreaths were placed. VFW Post 8870 donated funds toward the purchase of wreaths for the Evergreen Washelli ceremony.
A large contingent of veterans, members of VFW Post 8870 and our friends from American Legion Post 66, as well as others from the Military order of the Purple Heart, lined up in downtown Edmonds to participate in the annual “Edmonds Kind of 4th” parade.
Veterans formed the leading color guard for the parade and received an extremely warm and enthusistic response from the huge crowd lining the streets. The parade follows an approximately 1.9 mile course through downtown Edmonds, which takes it through the entire downtown area. We were fortunate to have several jeep type vehicles to allow some of our senior members to participate.
Following the parade, our usual barbecue took place at the American Legion Hall, where our wonderful crew of set up people and grillmasters put together a terrific meal of hamburgers, hot dogs and appropriate salad, chips and drinks.
Pictured below is the mounted and framed flag presented to the Post by member Josh Crabtree, currently a Special Agent with the State Department, assigned to the Kabul embassy, along with a certificate certifying that the flag was flown over the Embassy in honor of our Post. (The flag is shown cropped from the original photo and reduced in size. Click images to view in larger size.)
Fund Raising Undwerway
Under the Guidance of VFW Post 8870 and lead by the efforts of Ron Clyborne, a fundraising committee comprised of civic leaders, both veteran and non veteran, have begun work to raise the approximately $ 450,000 the project is projected to require.
There is already some seed money in the bank, including a donation from the city of Edmonds, among others and there is no doubt that sustantial contributions will be forthcoming as the word spreads in and around Edmonds.
Details of what the final result is expected to look like can be found on the project web page at http://edmondsveteransplaza.com/. (Some examples shown at left)
There is also a Facebook page under the name Edmonds Veterans Plaza. Online donations can be made from either of those two sites.
While we are, of course, looking for large sponsors who can support our project in substantial sums, in the end we will also need lots of small donations, so your online donation is welcome in any amount you can provide.
The important thing is for all of us associated with Veterans causes to do our part to promote and support the project in any way we can.
My blatant plea for assistance went unheeded last month so I won’t try it this month. However, twice a year we raise in the proximity of $11-$12,000 which are the funds we use to support our veteran and current service member communities. Unlike a lot of requests you receive, our funds stay in our community for the most part and virtually all of it stays in our state. So if you can’t find the time to assist us in our Poppy distribution, consider drop-ping a check made payable to:
VFW Post 8870
PO Box 701
Edmonds, WA 98020
Remember that your donation is tax deductible and, better, not a single penny of our Relief Fund is used for administrative expenses with the exception of the purchase of Poppies which are made by veterans here in Washington State. We’d love to have your company when we distribute Poppies but your generous donation will be equally appreciated.
The kids were lined up to toss bean bags, knock down cans, or spin the wheel for a prize (every spin was a winner) at the Edmonds Night Out. We had 8 volunteers that evening and the Post presented the colors to begin the festivities. Our Vice, Chris Edwards, brought a contingent of Army National Guard with 3 vehicles and the kids loved climbing through them. I saw one kid nearly topple under the weight of trying on some body armor. It was humorous until I tried to pick it up—that stuff is heavy and I thought our flack jackets we wore in Nam were bad. Anyway, it was a great night out and the Post and Army National Guard were big hits with the kids.
Most of our members know what Post they belong to (test question—which Post do you belong to?) and what District they belong to (another test Question– What District does our Post belong to?) Beyond that, unless you’ve been a Post Commander, the hierarchy becomes a bit foggy. Our Department (states are called Departments), is comprised of 16 Districts. Each District has a Commander and the 16 Commanders are Department’s Council of Administration. Perhaps the most important role of the Council is the responsibility of approving the budget for Department. The Departments are grouped by Conferences and, not surprisingly, we are in the Western Conference. There are 17 Departments making up the Western Conference. What is a bit unusual is the fact that Latin America & the Caribbean, Kansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota are in the Western Conference. Finally, the four Conferences, Big 10, Eastern, Southern and ours comprise the National organization.
By the way, the answers to the test questions are Post 8870 and District One.
The article below was published on July 25th in the local newspapers. As you know, we dedicated the Plaza on Memorial Day this year. The hard part is coming up, design, fund raising, and completion. Everyone in the Post will have to help with one or more aspects of the project.
Edmonds Post 8870 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of America is partnering with the City of Edmonds to hold an open design competition for the future Edmonds Veterans Plaza in downtown Edmonds.
The VFW Plaza Committee decided to conduct an open design competition to promote local participation and pride in the new memorial, which will be located next to the Public Safety Complex at 250 5th Ave. N. in downtown Edmonds.
“Edmonds is one of the few cities of its size without a tribute or memorial to veterans,” said Ron Clyborne, VFW member and Veterans Plaza committee member. “The plaza is meant to reflect the bravery, sacrifice and strength of the service members who will be recognized and remembered in this special spot in Edmonds.”
The City of Edmonds dedicated the future Edmonds Veterans Plaza on Memorial Day, May 26, 2014. Edmonds City Council member Strom Peterson, a member of the volunteer committee, spoke at the dedication and worked with the committee to establish the open design process.
“The citizens of Edmonds are grateful for all who have served our country,’ Peterson said. “A great way for our local community to feel a part of this special tribute is to create an open and collaborative process with the public in the design of the Edmonds Veterans Plaza.”
The design competition will be open to individuals and groups, students and professionals. You can download the guidelines here or can request a copy by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Preliminary designs will be reviewed and selected by the VFW committee and then go through a formal design and approval process with the City of Edmonds.
Veterans Plaza committee members include: Ron Clyborne (VFW), Jim Traner (VFW, Past Post and District Commander), James Blossey (VFW Commander), Jim Collins (VFW & Legion), Jack Hall (Edmonds Museum), Strom Peterson (Edmonds City Council), and Maria Montalvo (Corvias Foundation).
Lyle Branchflower enlisted in the Navy during the summer of 1961 and reported to duty as a Naval Aviation Cadet for Pre-Flight in Pensacola, Florida the following September. During that first week of active duty he learned two things right off. First, do not smile when the drill instructor asks you if your mother sent you here to screw up the whole damned Navy, and second, he knew he was getting out as soon as his 6 year military obligation ended.
Actual flight training began in T-34’s at Saufley Field Florida in January 1962. From there he went to Meridian, Mississippi to begin jet training. During that time, the Navy was transitioning older fighter squadrons in-to Phantom II (F4H later designated F4B) squadrons. That meant they needed to fill the training pipe line with Radar Intercept Officers immediately. Lyle was in the first class sent to Brunswick, Georgia for Radar Intercept Officer Training. The urgency of the training was ramped up a notch with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Lyle received his wings and commission and went to Miramar Naval Air Station (California) for further training in the Replacement Air Group (RAG) and then to VF-142 for deployment on the U.S.S. Constellation to the Western Pacific.
Enroute from San Diego to Yokosuka in May 1964, the Constellation received new orders. Go to Point Yankee (coordinates in the northern portion of the South China Sea). Remain on station. During the next couple of months the Constellation went from Point Yankee to the Philippines and back and forth and back. The Air Group trained and made occasional sorties over Vietnam.
On August 4th, the ship’s Claxton horn sounded and the loudspeaker came on, “GENERAL QUARTERS. GENERAL QUARTERS. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. GENERAL QUARTERS.” The U.S.S. Maddox and the U.S.S. Turner Joy were under attack. Fighters were launched into the night skies. Lyle was in the aircraft that was vectored to the Maddox and Turner Joy. They were flying at 50 feet. Lyle had three radar contacts. High anxiety voiced from Combat Information Centers on the destroyers. Inky black night. No visual contact of a PT boat. Lyle was unwilling to launch a missile without a visual even though there were three radar contacts and only two U.S. ships in the area.
President Johnson and Congress acted. A retaliatory strike was planned. Aircraft were launched on a raid against PT boat bases and supply depots in Hai Phong Harbor in North Vietnam. War had begun. Everett Alvarez began his 8 ½ year stay in the Hanoi Hilton.
The next several months merged into one continuous day and night of Combat Air Patrol (CAP), occasional photo escort missions into North Viet Nam and Laos, and bombing escort missions. They didn’t lose another aircraft for the duration of the cruise.
In February 1965, Lyle returned to Miramar Naval Air Station and began training for a new deployment to the Western Pacific in 1966. His active duty obligation was due to end in July of 1966, but he applied for an “early out” in order to go back to school in January 1966. His request was forwarded up the chain of command with a recommendation of “disapprove.” In Pearl Harbor, aboard the U.S.S. Ranger Lyle’s request came back approved. Had the approval arrived a day later, the Ranger would have passed the International Date Line and the admiral would have put an operational hold on him.
Lyle joined a reserve squadron at Willow Grove Naval Air Station outside of Philadelphia. Invariably, a pa-per or a test was due after serving his reserve weekends, so as soon as his reserve requirements were over, he separated from the Navy. A squadron mate chided him for foregoing the “easy money” reserve pay. Two weeks later, the squadron was called to active duty.
Lyle tells his friends who served as grunts that they just don’t understand how difficult service as a naval officer was. He would tell them that even though the stewards made the beds daily, they only put on fresh sheets once a week. Baked Alaska was only served on Thursdays in the ward room. And movies in the ready room could be interrupted by flight operations.
Lyle is pleased to join the VFW.
As we enter a new VFW year, we continue to face many of the same problems that prior administrations have. Most notable among them is membership. Membership Chair Pete Farmer and his committee have been doing a splendid job and many of our newer members will be definite assets to the Post. However young veterans still in their working years continue to find it difficult to attend our meetings. For most, a two-hour break in the middle of a workday is wholly impractical.
On the other hand, occasional suggestions to change our meetings to an evening hour have encountered resistance because many of our current members are of an age where driving after dark isn’t a good idea. Re-member that during much of the year the sun goes down before the dinner hour. The result for us is that younger veterans have effectively been shut out.
Further compounding the problem is the location of our meeting place, the Edmonds Senior Center. These folks have been wonderful hosts with nourishing and affordable meals, however by definition the Senior Center is for older people. It is not the sort of place where active young VFW members feel at home. We have heard from several that they feel out of place here.
So what is the answer? Let me tell you about an option that we are exploring. Our by-laws require us to have “at least” one regular meeting each month, but nowhere does it say that we can’t have more than one meeting a month. What we’re looking into is having two meetings each month—one at noon and one in the evening—with members having the option to attend whichever one they prefer. That way those who can’t drive at night (or who prefer to meet at noon) can continue to do so and members still employed can attend a meeting after working hours.
We have not yet discussed locations and meals, etc., but we will be looking into our options soon. Mean-while, let me stress that the two-meeting idea is only being explored right now; nothing is yet to the point where it might be brought to the membership for action.
However we are very interested in your opinions. My personal email is email@example.com. Let me hear from you.
Warren began the war serving with the Coastal Defense National Guard which became a regular army unit following Pearl Harbor. While serving with the Regiment, Warren was selected to attend Officer Candidate School at a base in North Carolina. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in November of 1942. He was assigned to an automatic weapons battalion that was composed of 40 MM Bofers, fast firing anti-aircraft guns, and half-tracks with four .50 caliber machine guns. In addition to the half-tracks, the battalion, which was composed of 800 + men and officers, had numerous trucks and jeeps and was a completely mobile unit. Warren’s battalion boarded ships on the east coast for the two week cruise to England. Once they landed in Liverpool, the battalion was sent to Aintree Racecourse where they lived and trained. Warren’s battalion was attached to the 29th Infantry Division, and once their weapons and vehicles arrived, they trained on the Moors in South Devon, practicing beach landings. On D-Day -1, Warren’s battalion made their way to the docks. His battalion was back loaded onto LST’s; Omaha Beach was their destination. On the morning of June 6, 1944, the armada of all sorts of naval vessels departed the shores of England. The battalion would wait on the LST’s for three days until a road leading from the beach had been cleared. On D-Day + 4, Warren’s automatic weapons battalion dry-landed on the beaches of Normandy, and immediately made their way inland. On the way, his battalion suffered casualties from sniper fire and land mines. When his unit’s Executive Officer was killed, Warren was given a battlefield promotion to First Lieutenant and became second in command of his unit. While their mission was that of air defense, one of the commanding generals on the scene took advantage of the battalion’s fast firing guns to provide ground support for the infantry troops who were engaging the enemy in the infamous hedgerows of Normandy. During the day, Warren’s unit moved from field to field, clearing hedgerows and battling the Germans for control of the inland. At night, they slept in foxholes. On one occasion, Warren was ordered to reconnoiter a road in an effort to assess the enemy’s location and strength. He and two other troops proceeded down a road into a German controlled area when they were subjected to heavy mortar and machine gun fire. They fought their way out of the ambush, safely returned to their unit, and provided information regarding the enemy presence. For his action, Warren was awarded a Bronze Star with a “V” device for Valor. Approximately six weeks after landing in Normandy, the Allied forces were able to seize total control of Normandy and begin its break out. In August of 1944, Warren participated in the liberation of Paris, and the 60 vehicles in his battalion transported U.S. troops through the streets of Paris to the wild cheering of the newly liberated Parisians. Warren’s battalion was ordered to Holland for air defense duty, which was short lived when they were then ordered to support Allied efforts during the Battle of the Bulge. After reaching the Elbe River in Germany, all units were ordered to stop and let the Russians meet them there. While waiting, they were informed about a German POW camp filled with Americans. Control of the camp had been seized by the Russians, and Warren’s unit organized a convoy of 60 vehicles to free the prisoners. With the assistance of an Army Lt. Col. from Headquarters, who had maps of the area, the battalion successfully rescued the prisoners. After the war ended, Warren performed occupation duty for six small villages near Frankfurt. When he returned home, he was discharged from the Army, but remained in the Army Reserve from which he retired as a Major.
He is the Past Commander of American Legion Post #43 in Hollywood, California and a Life Member of VFW Post #8870 in Edmonds.
This article is one in a recurring series of profiles that recognize the courageous contributions made by members of VFW Post #8870.
Fred Apgar is the Past Commander of Post #8870