Return to: Home Page

Chapter 691 Newsletter
December 2004

**The number one fraud crime in this country has reached epidemic proportions and it is scary.  I am referring to identity theft.  Folks do not realize how much damage it can cause and how difficult it can be for the individual that it happens to.  In order to help fight against it, the V.A. is going to issue new I D cards to all who are registered with them and the new one will have a picture of the individual to whom it belongs and if they have a service connected
claim, it will say so under their photo.   They will do this at the V.A. medical facility nearest to you.  It will take a few days to get the new one after you go thru the procedure, but the old one will be valid while you wait.
**The school play at Frank Sparkes on 11/10 was a real winner.  The Chapter Color Guard Presented The Colors for the morning performance.  The students delivered each veteran present  a very nice carnation.  The T-Shirts that each student wore, with the theme of the play, “These Colors Don’t Run” and a very nice American Flag on them were donated by the members of the Winton VFW Post 7792.  Their Teacher  has done an outstanding job again.
**The Veterans Day Ceremony turned out to be quite a surprise to me.  With all the rain we were having prior to the day  and time for it, I had the idea that only those participating in the event itself would be there.  I was very pleased to see the number who came.  The Merced Sun-Star estimated the crowd as numbering 60.  It was a nice ceremony.  I suppose the number attending such events at the present time is directly related to the current conflict our country is engaged in.  Each day more family members and friends have or know someone involved in the conflict and there are still many veterans around from all the other conflicts from WW II forward.  The ceremony was cut short due to the inclement weather, but we had a chance to hear from Merced City Councilman and Chapter Member, Rick Osorio, Board of Supervisors Member, Mike Nelson and Cathleen Galgiani who was representing Assembly-woman Barbara Matthews.  The following day, the Sun-Star had a nice front page picture of the Merced American Legion/VFW Firing Party who provided that service for the ceremony and on page 6, our own Bill Masasso playing Taps.  TV Channel 30 had included some shots from the ceremony on the Evening News on the 11th also.  They showed Bill playing Taps, the Firing Party in action and a close up of both Robert Gamez and Lynn Wychunas.  They ran the same shots 3 different times - on the 6 o’clock, 6:30 and again just prior to starting the movie “Saving Private Ryan”.  There was quite a lot of controversy over whether that movie was fit to be shown during prime time.  I saw the movie earlier and it was a very good one.  It won 5 Oscars  and many, many people claimed it to be quite factual and very close to reality.  As most folks know a lot of profane language is used by members of the military and the more intense the situation, the more foul the language.  I can attest to that personally.  However, there have been some really great movies made depicting battle scenes and the carnage wrought from same and absolutley no foul language was used in the movies.  Saving Private Ryan is full of such language and is not fit to be shown on prime time TV.  It seems to me that there is a nationwide effort going on to inject the most crude words possible in the entertainment world and it is absolutely un-necessary.  If someone mentions their rear end, I know exactly what part of the body that is.  They do not have to use any other word to describe it.  End of sermon.
**Packages:  I received word from Linda Dash, Castle Tricare Office, on 11/15 that she had received a donation for postage to send goodies to the troops in Iraq from County Bank in Merced.  She astounded me with the amount- - -$4,000 - - - On 11/16, Gary Frago and Wayne Weathers took about 40 more packages to the Post Office and cost for postage of $1,119.07.  (As you may recall, this was in addition to the 69 packages our chapter members delivered to FedEx last month, plus the 23 prior to that).   I had also received word from Mrs Beltz, Frank Sparkes Grade School in Winton that she and her husband, Dave, had delivered a couple of boxes full of donated items and about 150 letters from her students to Linda to send to the troops.  She also informed me that her students and hopefully, some others at the school, would be making cards for the patients in the VA Hospital in Fresno.  As you may recall they made about 500 cookies last year and delivered them to the Hospital.   What a great way to start the Holiday season.
**I have also been informed by Chapter Pres., Ed Mentz, that Chapter member, Dwain Greggains, is to give us an
update at the December 6th dinner on the 184th Infantry, which Dwain is a member of and which has been activated and is currently at Ft Bliss.
**Chapter Pres. Ed Mentz informed me that a very nice Memorial Service was held for Rodney “Bud” Struble
on 11/23 at the Atwater Community Center.  He had been a retiree from the City of Atwater, a Military Retiree and a Life Member of the VVA and our Chapter.  Ed, Robert Gamez and Bob Abasta were in attendance as Members of the Chapter Color Guard.  Ken Wilce and Darlene Mentz also attended.  Rodneys Widow, Ruby, and their Son were very appreciative for the display of honor and the flowers from the Chapter.  I had very much wanted to attend and was in the vicinity, at a Physical Therapy Clinic just across the street from the Community Center (slipped disc).  After limping from the clinic to the parking lot, at just about 5:00 PM,  I looked over at the Community Center and knew if I tried to go I would have to sit down on the sidewalk before I made it.  I decided a prayer would have to do.
**Young Marines and Toys for Tots.  The Young Marines Progam, Whose Commander is Rudy Tafoya, and who meet at the Challenger Learning Center at Castle Airport, will again be collecting Toys for Tots for the Merced County Area.  Many of you have met Rudy at the Pow Wows and other gatherings.  He was in attendance at the Chapters Veterans Day Ceremony in Courthouse Park and was dressed in BDU’s.  Rudy also informed me that he is seeking some military veterans to give some presentations to his class.  He says the same instructors get boring to the youngsters after a while.  If interested, he would like to hear from you.
**VVA CSC is conducting a raffle as a fund raiser.  The grand prize will be $900 toward a cruise trip.  Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased from Chapter Pres Ed Mentz.
**There will soon be a new TShirt on the scene for sale and it will have a picture on the back of the new National POW/MIA Memorial that was constructed in Riverside, CA.
**The Merced Christmas Parade is scheduled for next Saturday, 12/4, at 3:00 PM.  They changed the start time so it would be dark enough to light the tree in Bob Harte Square at the conclusion of the parade.
**Remember the Chapter dinner scheduled for Monday, the 6th.  It will be held at the Citibank Branch at 19th and M Sts in Merced (where the membership meetings are held) at 7:00 PM.  The meal will be catered by Gary Frago, who does a lot of that and the price is only $8.50 each.  It is to be served at 7:00 PM.  This dinner/meeting will replace both the Board of Directors and Membership meetings for this month.
 **The Chapter Pres. has also informed me that he will be delivering the donation from the Chapter and the DAV, plus the cards to be made by the students from Frank Sparkes School, to the Fresno V A Hospital on 12/20.  Anyone wishing to go along, please contact him.
**The VVA California State Council is really getting involved in the Veterans Incarcerated Program.  Our
Chapter Pres. is the Committee Chair for the program and has been spending quite a lot of time in meeting with the Wardens and has testified to a State Committee hearing.  It un-beliveable the amount of money that has been raised by prisoners who are Vietnam Vets and who are organized as VVA Chapters.  Every cent they have raised has been donated to non profit groups, such as battered women shelters.  It has also been proven that those same prisoners are the best behaved in the facility, even the ones who know they will never be free.  That is quite an incentive for the prison officials to go along with the program.
I hope all of you will join with me in wishing for a quick end to the strife in all the places where our troops are facing death and danger and pray for a quick and safe return of all of them to their families and loved ones.  I don’t pretend to be politically correct, so a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all.
Billy D
Remember:       September 11, 2001
                        December 7, 1941

1995 - 2004 ©
Vietnam Veterans of America
California State Council
P. O. Box 3007
Riverside, CA 92519-3007