Newsletter Articles

Draping the Charter for Fallen Comrades

Rene Blumenfeld
Rene Blumenfeld 

We lost two of our long time Post 8870 comrades in November. Rene Blumenfeld, age 92, of Edmonds, Washington passed away on Tuesday, November 17, 2020. At this writing your editor has no further information about Rene. He had been a member of our Post for post for some 25 or more years and was a very regular attendee at post meetings most of that time. 

Bob Crawford
Bob Crawford 

Bob Crawford was a retired Navy pilot with terminal rank of Lt. Commander. Bob served in the Vietnam war. Past Commander Jim Traner tells us: “He ran a small aircraft charter operation out of Anacortes and delivered mail to some of the smaller islands.” Bob was our Poppy Chair for quite some time and we have missed his service in that role since his health began to fail a couple of years ago. 

Virtual Post Meeting Held in November

We held what has become our usual “virtual” post meeting on November 18 in the Zoom format. Among other topics, we discussed our efforts at another “virtual” poppy drive for Veterans Day, which were much less successful than we experienced for Memorial Day. Total revenues this time were less than $ 2,000. It looks as though there are just too few charitable dollars available to meet the needs of all of the organizations looking for funds. 

On a better note, our call for donations for our Post general fund was quite successful and we were able add over $ 3,000 to that fund, making Post operations secure for a while. 

While we hope and are planning for a return to our traditional store front fund raising for Memorial Day 2021, it looks as though we may have access to at least one of our better producing stores. More on that later, but meanwhile, we want everyone to think about other ways we might replenish of Relief Fund going forward to be able to go on helping veterans in need, and support our other causes if Covid is still restricting us next spring. 

Attendance: Head counts at Post meetings of late have not met our usual experience for regular meetings held at the Legion Hall. Our numbers have been running around 15, mostly the Post officers. 

You should all be receiving the link to allow you to log into the Zoom meetings and we encourage you to join us. Put your VFW cover on, log in and join us! For December, the format will be a casual ‘Holiday’ gathering, instead of the regular Post meeting format, at the usual time on December 16, so grab your favorite beverage and snacks and we will all kick things around on line. Watch your email for your invitation with the link. 

Christmas Toy Drive – Covid Style

Christmas Toy Drive - Covid Style

Since we are unable to hold our regular VFW/Legion Christmas Party (a disappointment to all) we will also not be able to hold our annual toy drive for the Edmonds Toy Box program for underprivileged children. For many years we have gathered a substantial number of unwrapped toys as part of our celebration, for distribution to children of families in need. 

Christmas Toy Drive - Covid Style

Chaplain Dan Doyle contacted Teri’s Toy Box owner Teri Soelter in downtown Edmonds and arranged to place a Box in the store marked for VFW’s Toy drive. The idea is to encourage store customers to purchase an extra toy while shopping and place it in the box. Doyle is delivering those toys to the Edmonds Toy Box and reports collecting enough to fill two garbage bags at pick up time the first week. Post Surgeon Jay Hansen designed a sign for the box, Post Commander Rose Gilliland decorated the box and delivered it to the store. 

In the photo above, Past Commander Mike Denton is with owner Teri Soelter after dropping A few new toys in the box. 

Everyone is encouraged to visit Teri’s Toy box at 420 Main St in downtown Edmonds, to help us make some kid’s Christmas brighter. Here is an opportunity to both support a long time local business and help underprivileged children at the same time. Just select and purchase a toy for any age range and place it in the box, located adjacent to the store’s point of purchase. It is a real “feel good” moment. (May as well pick up some last minute items for the kids and grandkids at the same time!)

Large Grant from Anonymous Donor

Large Grant from Anonymous Donor

Veterans Plaza & Relief Fund to Benefit 

We are very excited to announce that the Post has received a large grant for the Edmonds Veterans Plaza and for our relief fund! A benefactor who donated to the Plaza earlier was contacted by Ron Clyborne regarding a new project for the facility (details on that project to be forthcoming). The donor asked if we had any other needs and was told that we were short $15,000 in our relief fund due to a disappointing virtual poppy drive. The result is a check deposited the other day by Jim Traner in the amount of $ 40,000; $25,000 for the Plaza project and $15,000 to flesh out the relief fund. With the $ 1800 raised in our virtual poppy drive, this brings our fall relief fund revenues to just under $ 17,000. Many thanks to Ron for his initiative and to the anonymous donor for his amazing generosity! 

Post 8870 Veterans Day Observance

Post 8870 Veterans Day Observance
Chaplain Doyle with our color guard

The pandemic once again interfered with our traditional Veterans Day activities, with poppy distribution and big gatherings at the Edmonds Veterans Plaza cancelled.

Nevertheless, Veterans Day could not go unobserved, so a group of Post members gathered on the Saturday morning of Saturday, November 7 and, led by Commander Rose Gilliland marched from the American Legion Hall to the Veterans Plaze behind our national ensign and our VFW and Legion Post flags. A small group of Post members, family and friends enjoyed a short presentation on the meaning of the day from Post Chaplain Dan Doyle, followed by a few remarks from our artist in residence, Mike Reagan. Mike once again spoke of the experience of a comrade in Vietnam dying in his arms, a story that cannot fail to move those listening. 

In the background are the tents of the vendors of the Edmonds Saturday Market. 

Post 8870 Veterans Day Observance

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! To Complete Veterans Plaza Kiosk Data

Edmonds Veterans Plaza Kiosk Data Needed

We would like to complete the Information Kiosk at the Edmonds Veterans Plaza by inputting data for each dedicated veteran. We created Online Forms for this purpose. Please help us! 

If you have purchased any of the several types of memorial spaces in the plaza for either yourself or other veterans, living or deceased, please select one of the Forms below and use its link to enter requested data for each honoree. 

The Edmonds Veterans Plaza Kiosk team is happy to announce that the kiosk is now loaded with the veterans’ basic information excerpted from the memorialized pavers and benches. Some of the veterans dedicated also have provided additional information and photos. You can go to the plaza and check out to see if you, your friend or family member is showing up. The Memorial ID and the map on the screen can help users to locate their pavers, etc. 

The team will continue the effort to add more information and edit if needed. Please see the online version of the kiosk here (In other words, you can do the checking from your home remotely, too!): 

You are welcome to complete one of the forms below. Or send the veterans’ information and photos to Also use the same email to correct the existing information on the kiosk. See the form below for what types of information we can use. Although ideal, it doesn’t have to be complete. Please use this format and save the committee the effort of following up with you individually! 

Please select one of the Forms below and use its link.

  • Form A: For those who have a Google account**. Only Google account holders can upload photos directly from the form. Prepare the photos (Read Photo Specification*) and start the form below. —> 
  • Form B: For those who do not wish to have a Google account. We will send a separate email requesting photos later. Please go ahead and fill the form below. —> 

Either way, you will be requested (but not required) to provide up to 2 photos. *Photo specification: Ideally optimized for 400w X 500h in pixels at 72 DPI and JPG (.jpg) format is preferred (up to 10 MB per photo in size allowed). You may want to start preparing them before you start filling the form. If you do not know how to do this, do not worry but go ahead and upload photos as they are. 

** To create free Google account: (If you use Gmail or Google Calendar, you already have a Google account.) You can create it by visiting:

From the Book Shelf

They Were Soldiers by Joseph L. Galloway

by Mike Denton 

They Were Soldiers showcases the inspiring true stories of 49 Vietnam veterans who returned home from the “lost war” to enrich America’s present and future. 

In this groundbreaking new book, Joseph L. Galloway, distinguished war correspondent and New York Times bestselling author of We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young, and Marvin J. Wolf, Vietnam veteran and awardwinning author, reveal the private lives of those who returned from Vietnam to make astonishing contributions in science, medicine, business, and other arenas, and change America for the better. 

For decades, the soldiers who served in Vietnam were shunned by the American public and ignored by their government. Many were vilified or had their struggles to reintegrate into society magnified by distorted depictions of veterans as dangerous or demented. Even today, Vietnam veterans have not received their due. Until now. These profiles are touching and courageous, and often startling. 

They include veterans both known and unknown, including: 

  • Frederick Wallace (“Fred”) Smith, CEO and founder of FedEx 
  • Marshall Carter, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange Justice
  • Eileen Moore, appellate judge who also serves as a mentor in California’s Combat Veterans Court 
  • Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state under Colin Powell 
  • Guion “Guy” Bluford Jr., first African American in space 

Engrossing, moving, and eye-opening, They Were Soldiers is a magnificent tribute that gives long overdue honor and recognition to the soldiers of this “forgotten generation.” (With thanks to Jim Traner for bringing this book to my attention)er 

Post Meetings to Continue in Virtual Format

Post Meetings to Continue in Virtual Format
Screen shot from September meeting 

Commander Gilliland truly wanted our next post meeting to be a “hybrid” meeting. Some could meet at the hall and others could join via Zoom. “I have spent a lot of time reviewing the uptick in colds, flu and COVID 19 cases. I do not feel that it is appropriate to have meetings in the hall at this time or for the next few months. I believe that it is the safest approach for all of us to attend via Zoom.” In addition to the safety benefits of virtual meetings, it also allows member who have moved out of Edmonds to join us. Some, such as Past Commander Fred Apgar attend from as far away as Missouri. 

Our speaker will be our own Sr. Vice Commander Carl Kurfess, who has a presentation for us on military utility vehicles. You won’t want to miss it. The link for the Zoom stream will be sent via email in advance. 

You will want to be on-line with us to join in the discussion of raising money for our Relief Fund, and making plans for our Veterans Day observance, among other things.  

Department Firefighter of the Year Award Presented

Department Firefighter of the Year Award Presented

VFW officials and firefighters plus some family and friends turned out on a windy, rainy afternoon, Wednesday, September 23 for the presentation of local and state VFW Firefighter of the Year Award to South County Fire’s own Dave “Bronco” Erickson as he received both the National and the State of Washington VFW award for Firefighter of the Year. 

Edmonds VFW Post 8870 Commander Rose Gilliland introduced Erickson and presented the award. “Bronco is a giant amongst us as a public servant,” Gilliland said. “This award recognizes your exemplary record of courageous service to the community and the nation and your extraordinary commitment in keeping with the esteemed core values and traditions of the firefighter profession. You are a role model to all firefighters, and this honor reflects the proudest ideals of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Thanks to you for all you do every day to support your fellow firefighters, our fire chiefs and everyone in our community.” 

State VFW Senior Vice Commander Chad Hassebroek then presented Erickson with the Golden Eagle, officially recognizing him as the Washington State VFW Firefighter of the Year.

Each year individual VFW Posts are encouraged to nominate a local Fire Fighter or EMT for this award, from which group is chosen the VFW District and State Award winners. The ceremony was held in the Fallen Firefighter Memorial Park adjacent to Edmonds Fire Station 17, sacred ground for firefighters, and a place to which Erickson dedicated years of his life bringing into being. Erickson’s role in bringing this memorial to Edmonds was a large part of VFW Post 8870’s decision to recognize him with this award. 

While the memorial had been his vision and his passion for many years, it began in earnest in 2011 when Erickson personally traveled to New York City to pick up and escort back to Edmonds the one-ton steel I-beam from the wreckage of the World Trade Center, which now forms the centerpiece of the park.  

Veterans Day Observance and Buddy Poppies

We will once again be unable to man our usual “Buddy Poppy” Tables due to Covid 19 restrictions at the stores. Hopefully, the situation will change by next spring for Memorial Day, but in the meantime we will pursue some virtual poppy drive activity via Facebook and our local news outlets, as we did last spring. 

In addition to our poppy efforts, our artist in residence, Mike Reagan is providing a collection of signed posters of local sports celebs, which will be auctioned off, again in a virtual format, with the proceeds going to our Veterans Relief Fund. Many thanks to Mike for his generosity. The mutual support of Reagan’s foundation and our post continues to be mutually beneficial. 

Past Commander Jim Traner has been working on creating a new Post 8870 Foundation under a 501(c) 3 structure the will allow us to fund drive using the Facebook format and perhaps solicit larger donations for which we will then be eligible. Be sure to attend our Zoom Post meeting on line to help the post get to work on these activities. 

Veterans Day Observance 

At this writing the plan is to form up at the American Legion Hall at around 10:00 AM on Saturday, November 7, parade to the Edmonds Veterans Plaza and hold a short ceremony there at 11:00 AM. We want to maintain proper social distances, so we are not promoting for a huge crods, however, the Holiday Market will be operating adjacent to the plaza, which may well draw a few more people. Listen for details at the October Post meeting and via email soon.