Post Service Officer Set to Help Members

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 directly: (425-218-0034) 

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 hand. 

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) 

Reminder: Order Your Edmonds Veterans PlazaVP Memorial Pavers

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.

VFW Legion Christmas Party Well-attended

VFW Legion Christmas Party Well-attended. Many thanks to Paul Bustard

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! 

VFW Legion Christmas Party Well-attended. support of his Fallen Heroes Foundation

Post Commanders Les Abel and Rose Gilliland presented checks from each post to Mike Reagan in support of his Fallen Heroes Foundation. 

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. 

Past Commander Mike Denton with a Christmas gift

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.

Gift Cards for Veterans Home

Gift Cards for Veterans Home
Kurfess presents the gift cards 

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 years. 

Gift Cards for Veterans Home
At right is an exterior view of the Retsil facility. 

Edmonds Veterans Plaza Update

State Grant Funds Awarded 

Edmonds Veterans Paza Update State Grant Funds Awarded

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. 

Order Your EVP Memorial Pavers Now

Order Your EVP Memorial Pavers Now

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. 

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. 

Order Your EVP Memorial Pavers Now

VFW District 1 Newsletter Inaugurated

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 9417, Goldbar.) 

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: 

Fred Apgar Remembers

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. 

Fred Apgar Remembers Meeting Seng Keu
Comrades reunited

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 his story. 

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. 

VFW/American Legion Combined Christmas Party Slated

VFW/American Legion Combined Christmas Party

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. 

VFW/American Legion Combined Christmas Party

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. 

VFW/American Legion Combined Christmas Party

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! 

Meet New Member Dick Harsin

 Meet New Member Dick Harsin
Harsin takes the oath as OOD Jim Collins looks on

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 Utah. 

In 1980 Dick started his CPA business which he sold in 1995. Since 1995 he has worked in wealth management, financial planning and tax strategy planning. 

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, Daybreakers. 

Post 8870 Members Awarded Quilts of Honor

Post 8870 Members Awarded Quilts of Honor.

In November, two more of our World War II veteran members were awarded Quilts of Honor, following on the group of four awarded in September. 

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. 

Post 8870 Members Awarded Quilts of Honor

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.