Don Whedon, Edmonds VFW Post 8870 Service Officer, sees a need for enhanced availability to VFW members in need of assistance in receiving their veterans benefits. The process of applying and gaining approval for medical, disability and other benefits can be daunting for the uninitiated. Don is here to help and is very experienced in this area.
To that end Whedon will begin establishing some regular service
hours for the Post. This will initially be located at the Edmonds American
Legion Hall. In addition, Whedon can, when needed, make other arrangements to
meet with individual veterans offsite. Veterans can contact Whedon
The first such session will be on Saturday, February 29, between
10 AM and 2 PM. We will have the coffee on and some donuts and such on
A one time telephone drive will be held concurrently to contact
members of VFW Post 8870 who have overlooked renewing, to remind them to
do so. Qualified Veterans not already members, are also welcome to stop by
and put in their application. (Be sure to bring your DD214)
We still have room in our current flight of pavers. 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. You will find the order form on the Post web site. Cut and past the link below in your browser.
On Saturday, December 14, members of American Legion Post
66 and VFW Post 8870 gathered at the Legion Hall in Edmonds for our annual
Christmas gathering. Many thanks to Paul Bustard for providing turkey,
mashed potatoes and gravy, which he has done for a number of years.
In gratitude for Paul’s efforts, Post Commanders Les Abel
and Rose Gilliland presented Paul with a handsome leather jacket,
decorated with appropriate USMC insignia. Paul puts in many hours seeing
that our annual event is well fed.
Paul had a bit of an delay in getting the turkeys on time from
Costco, his usual source, where there were some issues with timing
expectations. By way of apology, the fine folks at Costco, provided the
turkeys at no charge and also committed to continue providing the turkeys
free in the future. The food; turkey, mashed potatoes, ham, and all the
trimmings were delicious!
Post Commanders Les Abel and Rose Gilliland presented
checks from each post to Mike Reagan in support of his Fallen Heroes
A variety of items contributed by members of the two Posts
were auctioned off to raise funds. Mike Reagan offered to produce two sketched
portraits for winning bidders, which sold for a total of $ 1,000. Other
items and door contributions came to $ 611. The total of $ 1,611 was split
between the two posts.
Reagan surprised (stunned might be a better word) Past Commander Mike Denton with a Christmas gift of a portrait sketch of Mike’s then teenaged mother, (shown at right) circa 1932, which he showed as a “sample” of his work. Reagan said he “mined” Facebook for the Denton photo.
One of the long standing traditions of our Christmas party is the collection of toys for underprivileged children, and donations of food four our local food bank, which is developing a new focus on the needs of veterans for the coming year. Our comrades were generous as always in their donations. Commander Gilliland arranged for the delivery of the food donations to the food bank. and personally presented the toys to the Chaplain’s office at Naval Base Everett for appropriate distribution to children of active duty members of the armed forces.
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
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 &
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
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
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
In 1980 Dick started his CPA business which he sold in 1995.
Since 1995 he has worked in wealth management, financial planning and tax
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,
In November, two more of our World War II veteran members were
awarded Quilts of Honor, following on the group of four awarded in
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.