Newsletter Articles

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.  

Results of Call for Donations to General Fund

Funding effort to continue 

Members responded to last month’s call for donations with a total of approximately $ 1,000.00, half of which came from a single anonymous member’s $ 500 match. Those gifts, combined with funds received from VFW National for Life Member dues and a few other gifts has kept the Post general fund afloat for the moment. 

We are continuing our funding drive by preparing a mailing to the members honoring their service in foreign wars, and asking for a donation to our general fund. It also asks members to update their demographics. The mailing includes a stamped return envelope to Post 8870. Please give this your attention when it arrives. 

We have rearranged our donation page on the web site to make it easier to choose between donating to the general fund, the Poppy (Relief) fund or to the Edmonds Veterans Plaza. Donations can be made by credit card at The “donate” button is right there on the landing page. You will receive a prompt email receipt. 

You might also consider a regular small donation on your credit card, (add it to your monthly bill list). Every little bit helps and remember, we are not permitted to use funds generated by our semi-annual poppy drives for Post operations. 

POW Trivia: Skunk Works or “Something smells here”

POW Trivia: Skunk Works or Something smells here

by Carl Kurfess 

The term “Skunk Works” came from Al Capp’s satirical, hillbilly comic strip Li’l Abner, which was immensely popular in the 1940s and ’50s. The “Skonk Works” was a dilapidated factory located on the remote outskirts of Dogpatch, in the backwoods of Kentucky. According to the strip, scores of locals were done in yearly by the toxic fumes of the concentrated “skonk oil”, which was brewed and barreled daily by “Big Barnsmell” (known as the lonely “inside man” at the Skonk Works), by grinding dead skunks and worn shoes into a smoldering still, for some mysterious, unspecified purpose. 

Originally, the “Skunk works” was a Lockheed research-and-development operation where the SR-71 and U-2 spy planes were developed. The original Lockheed facility, during the development of the P-80 Shooting Star, was located adjacent to a malodorous plastics factory. According to a memoir, an engineer jokingly showed up to work one day wearing a Civil Defense gas mask. To comment on the smell and the secrecy the project entailed, another engineer, referred to the facility as “Skonk Works”. As the development was very secret, the employees were told to be careful even with how they answered phone calls. One day, when the Department of the Navy was trying to reach the Lockheed management for the P-80 project, the call was accidentally transferred to an engineer’s desk, who answered the phone in his trademark fashion of the time, by picking up the phone and stating “Skonk Works, inside man here”. “What?” replied the voice at the other end. “Skonk Works”, the engineer repeated. The name stuck. 

9/11 – 19 Years Later – Never Forget

Annual Remembrance Held Virtually 

Last Friday, Sept. 11, 2020 marked the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that changed America forever. The memories of that day are still vivid and raw in our nation’s heart, but the heroism that emerged from the rubble of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in the air above a rural Pennsylvania field, should inspire Americans for generations to come. As we remember 9/11 and the nearly 3,000 innocent lives lost that terrible day, the VFW and Edmonds Post 8870, hope all Americans pause and reflect on those we lost and those who continue to sacrifice in the defense of freedom. 

As time has passed, an entire generation of Americans has been born and grown nearly to adulthood who have no memory of that day. It is the duty of those of us who do remember to ensure that it is not forgotten. 

Because of the Covid pandemic, our annual gathering at the Edmonds downtown fire station was substituted with a virtual ceremony. If you missed the virtual memorial ceremony, which was broadcast on Facebook, follow this link to view the recorded event: 

The Edmonds 9/11 Memorial contains the remains of a World Trade Center beam 

Another “Virtual” Post Meeting

Another “Virtual” Post Meeting

As we continue moving through the Covid nightmare of 2020, another virtual post meeting was held on August 20. Fifteen members of our Post attended via the “Zoom” online platform. Joshua Schreck, Dept. Chief of Staff and State Parliamentarian, of Renton Post 1263, visited from Department HQ. 

If you have yet to log on for our Zoom based Post meeting, please try to join us for September. Access can be had via the Zoom link sent out by Jim Traner via email. If you experience technical issues, call or email Jim or your Commander (or your editor for that matter) and we will do our best to help you get on. We hope to see more of you for September. Most any desktop computer, iPad or smart phone with an internet connection is capable of accessing the software.

Since we began the Zoom connection, broadcasting our meetings on line, Past Commander Fred Apgar has been one of our members notable for his regular attendance. 

Among other items of business, efforts to get the word out on the 2020-21 Essay contests and Voice of Democracy were discussed, as well as Teacher of the Year and Safety awards. The pandemic is making those programs particularly challenging this year. 

You will finds plans for fund raising and membership drives discussed elsewhere in this newsletter. 

Post Surgeon Jay Hansen summarized members’ activities in veteran and public service for the month of July. Some of us, particularly members who are part of the Honor Guard and, as always, resident sketch artist Mike Reagan continue to be active. 

Virtual meetings will continue until health authorities allow gatherings of more than 25 members and until our members feel comfortable with meeting in person. Your command staff has been making this decision month to month, watching developments and keeping in mind the average age and vulnerability of our membership.  

Our Post Needs Operating Funds -Can You Help?

Our Post Needs Operating Funds -Can You Help?

Most of you are no doubt aware that the Post keeps its operating funds strictly separate from our Relief Fund, as is required by our charter and by-laws. Money donated through our Buddy Poppy program cannot be spent on Post operations. 

While our operating costs are modest (thanks in no small part to the generosity of our brother American Legion Post, who provide our meeting space) they are ongoing and over the course of the year add up. July expenses included the semiannual fee for our Post Office Box, postage itself, insurance, the security bond for our command staff and web site expenses. 

If a few members and friends could make a donation to our general fund, any amount would help, ($ 25, $50, $100… whatever you can do) our bank balance can return to health. Just make the check out to VFW Post 8870, mark it for general fund and mail to VFW Post 88780, PO Box 701, Edmonds, WA 98020.

Buddy Poppies & Other Fund Raising Ideas

Buddy Poppies & Other Fund Raising Ideas

Veterans Day is moving in on the horizon and our semi-annual “Buddy Poppy” drive along with it. Once again, as with Memorial Day, the Covid pandemic will preclude our presence at the local supermarkets to distribute Poppies. Our virtual Poppy Drive was surprisingly successful in May for Memorial Day and we expect to revisit that effort for Veterans Day, beginning early in October. 

You can all help by sharing our promotional materials on your own social media and encouraging your friends and family to donate. All of the recipients of our Relief fund will continue to need our support and that of our community. 

An additional fund raising project, involving the online public auction of some of Mike Reagan’s celebrity sports figure sketches, is in the planning stages. We will have more information on that project soon. Stay tuned.

Commander Rose Receives Awards at District Event

The annual District 1 School of Instruction was held on Sept. 12 at the Post 2100 hall in Everett. In the photo above above left, Edmonds Post 8870 Commander Rose Gilliland receives individual category award certificates from District Commander Otis Wolfe. These awards recognize the efforts of the members of our post over the 2019-20 VFW year. 

At right, Department of Washington Commander Traci Williams, accompanied by Past Commander John Rust have just presented Commander Gilliland with the “White Hat” of an All State Post Commander, which is worn on behalf of the entire post’s efforts during her first year as commander. We were very close to making “All American Post” status last year, coming just a bit short in the new member recruitment category. Congratulations are in order to Commander Rose and the entire membership on a very successful year, under trying circumstances!