BY STEPHEN WILSON
In 1999, VVA Chapter 582 in Chico, California, reawakened
with five members. After many questions about our mission
and how to raise money for operating costs, we slowly organized
into a group. Our first car show was the brainchild of Les
Orme, the chapter president back then.
We made some money and that was a good start. In September,
we had our eighth People’s Choice Car Show. This one
was the best so far. It has taken time, though, because we
originally knew little about car shows. This year’s
show was our biggest money maker, with slightly over $5,000
in profits and with more than ninety vehicles entered.
How did we do it? It was our dedication and help from a
core group of people who discovered that creating a show
is rewarding. They realized, too, that they could make a
significant effort to help local veterans of all wars.
First, we choose a location and check on insurance, which
is partially provided by VVA. The theme is always the same:
The People’s Choice Car Show is an event in which those
who attend vote on the cars and decide the winners. We have
ten categories, including motorcycles. That makes it easier.
A few people want to have more categories, but we choose
to keep it simple. There is no admission charge.
complete article ]
BY XANDE ANDERER
Most soldiers carry a letter they hope no one will ever
The military encourages everyone in combat zones to compose
a letter to be delivered to their loved ones should they
fall in battle. It’s a final goodbye of sorts, words
they never had the chance to say aloud, a modicum of comfort
for the loved ones left behind. Some are addressed to unborn
children, others to small children too young to remember
The letters are painful to read. The sad fact is that more
than 4,200 families have read those bittersweet letters and
more than 8,500 children have lost a military parent in the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This December, 1,600 of those
children and their families will converge on the self-proclaimed
happiest place on earth—Disneyland—for a welcome,
if temporary, escape from their grief.
The event is the third such trip made possible by Snowball
Express, an all-volunteer charity. Its mission is to provide
happy memories and camaraderie for the children of servicemen
and women who have died in the Global War on Terrorism.
This year’s all-expense-paid trip includes visits
to Disneyland and the Universal Studios theme park and a
day-long event called “A Day in the Life of California.” All
travel, hotel, and food costs are free. “They don’t
pay one penny,” explained the event’s chairman,
retired USAF Lt. Col. Roy White, a Southwest Airlines pilot. “They’ve
already paid everything they need to pay to this country.
The purpose of the trip is to let the children know their
sacrifices aren’t forgotten.”
TEXT & PHOTOS BY MARK JURY
With temperatures barely above freezing in the early morning
of November 11, Janet Gorman King read her poem about nurses
in Vietnam, “Hers Was the Last Face He Saw.” King
read in front of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington,
D.C. The crowd attending the reading had come to celebrate
the 15th anniversary of the dedication of the Memorial.
As the temperature rose and the warmth of the day spread
over the thousands of Vietnam veterans and their supporters,
the spirit of the motto of the Memorial—“A Legacy
of Healing and Hope”—also spread over the crowd.
A day of storytelling, speakers, and camaraderie culminated
with the Color Guard Pass in Review that was developed and
organized by VVA.
“Fifteen years ago we talked about leaving a legacy,” said
Diane Carlson Evans, an Army nurse in Vietnam, founder and
president of the board of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial
Foundation. “But what is that legacy: remembering,
honoring, and connecting with a new generation. I hear women
say, ‘If it wasn’t for the Memorial, I wouldn’t
be where I am today.’”
BY PHILIP CAPUTO
Ten o’clock to two o’clock.
As far as the geometry of fly-casting goes, that’s
all you need to know. The rod tip describes an arc from about
forty-five degrees above an imaginary plane extending forward
from your waistline—the ten o’clock position—to
about forty-five degrees behind—two o’clock.
There are variations, nuances, but we won’t go into
those because this is not a treatise on fly-casting or fly-fishing.
This is about redemption, or more to the point, about a way
for the returning warrior, scarred body and soul, to find
A psychologist would say “to reintegrate himself into
civilian society,” or some such; a guru might speak
of the “healing process.” I prefer “redemption.”
It’s a search that goes back to the times when men
fought in phalanxes, with swords and spears and shields.
In Book II of Virgil’s Aeneid, Aeneas offers to carry
his father, Anchises, out of the ruins of Troy on his shoulders.
But he asks Anchises to carry their Penates—the family’s
In me, it would be impious, holy things to bear,
Red as I am with slaughter, new from war,
Till in some living stream I cleanse the guilt
Of dire debate and blood in battle spilt.
BY MICHELLE BAUGH
Rows of mourners sat with eyes staring down at their hands
folded, fighting tears at St. Anthony’s Church in Providence,
Rhode Island. On May 5, 2007, more than three hundred mourners
gathered to honor Special Forces SSG Lewis Clark Walton,
Sr., who had returned home after his remains were located
and identified December 2006 in Quang Nam Province.
Clark Walton was a “soldier’s soldier,” in
the words of his friend Joe Hannon, who served with him at
Ft. Devens in Massachusetts. Hannon, a Vietnam veteran who
served with the Special Forces, says he formed a bond with
Walton and tried to talk him out of going to Vietnam. “I
had already been to Vietnam when I met him. I told him to
stay the hell away from there—it’s no good.”
Against his friend’s advice, Walton dropped everything
and went. He was assigned to Support Headquarters Company,
5th Special Forces Group. They were assigned to Military
Assistance Command Vietnam-Studies and Observation Group
(MACV-SOG), an unconventional warfare task force engaged
in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia