Over Armed Forces Day weekend VVA’s Miami Valley Chapter 97 and the Dayton, OH , softball community hosted the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (WWAST) for two exhibition games at Wright State University’s Ron Nischwitz Baseball Stadium. In a fundraiser for the new Fisher House being built at the Dayton VAMC, the WWAST team squared off against a team of airmen from Wright-Patterson and local first-responders. The second game pitted them against the Dayton Legends, a group of senior softballers.
“The whole chapter pulled together, ” Chapter 97 President Steve Ratcliffe said. “While at the event members may have been honorees, prior to that they were workers. Their involvement started back in January with the planning process, followed by fundraising, soliciting donations, and selling tickets. It was a lot of work, but it was a worthwhile community event.”
The event’s theme, U.S. Specialty Sports Association Director Scott Kuhnen said, was “Honoring our Veterans, Helping our Community.” In addition to being an opportunity to showcase and honor young, injured war veterans, the baseball games also recognized Vietnam veterans.
Chapter 97 has been active in promoting the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration. So a similar event took place between the exhibition games to unite the two generations. During the WWAST Salute to Vietnam Veterans, Chapter 97 members were welcomed onto the field, where they rounded the bases.
At first base they received chapter lapel pins; at second, they were presented with certificates of service; and at third, they were greeted by representatives from Wright-Patterson AFB, who gave them 50th Anniversary pins. Making their way down third base, the Vietnam veterans received high-fives from the WWAST players. Then they were greeted at home plate by Dayton VAMC Chief of Staff Tom Hardy.
“We hope the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team and VVA Chapter 97 have helped both Vietnam-era veterans and veterans of more recent conflicts better connect and appreciate each other’s service, ” Kuhnen said. The games resulted in an $11, 000 donation to Fisher House.
By Michael Keating