• Chuck and his wife Ann

  • President and Charlie heading to the East Room

  • Chuck and his son Mike

  • Chuck and his daughter Jeanna

  • Medal of Honor

  • East Room For The Medal of Honor Ceromony

Vietnam Veterans of America
Charles S. Kettles Chapter 310
The Vietnam Veterans of America National Chapter of the Year - 1999 & 2007
Newsletter of the Year 2007, 09, 11 & 15
Chapter member LTC. (Retired) Chuck Kettles receved the Medal of Honor - July 2016
President’s Message
Dave Draper

This was, and almost always is, our busiest month of the year. See all the activities and events that we as a Chapter participated in. Most of them were events that I personally attended. There were others that I could not attend because they conflicted with the ones I did.

Balliu1I’d like to start this month’s news by wishing Bill and Marge Ballou a very happy 50th Anniversary. Their family threw them a party at their daughter’s house in Livonia to help celebrate the event on June 17. There was about three dozen people who showed up including several from our Chapter. Although it was hot and humid out, everyone seemed to have a great time. Dogs, burgers and drinks were served. Later the two love birds cut the cake and Marge managed to smear icing all over Bill’s mustache as she fed him a piece of cake. Being a good sport, Bill, in turn, tried to give Marge a big kiss. Sweet!! I hope you will wish them many more anniversaries the next time you see them.

The AVVA presented a Quartermania again on May 22 at the American Legion Post 268 in Milan. They had a very nice turnout with what looked like a few more participants than last time. We had Steve Hitte, Tim Driscoll, and Roy Hall, from our VVA Chapter, helping out with the event. The AVVA provided submarine sandwiches, chips, and water for sale at the event. What AVVA didn’t sell as a meal, they auctioned off. Very little food was left. The participants were very energetic and the sales were brisk. I think Fisher House Michigan will profit well from this event as all profits were designated to go to them. We would like to thank Bruce Ross from Legion Post 268 for allowing AVVA to put on this event at their facility.

museum1Meni and I stopped out to view the VFW Post 423 Museum that Milton Davis set up for the week. If you have nevermuseum2 visited it, I think it would be well worth your time, especially if you can get Milt to give you some of the history behind the artifacts and uniforms presented. Not too many people are more knowledgeable about the history of our military service. He has mannequin displays with uniforms starting from World War I. This year he has added nine new, full-sized mannequins and does a great job with their presentation. Many of the mannequin displays have a history of the person who wore that particular uniform presented in a nice folder. Of course there were many other artifacts, from backpacks to first aid kits to meals to patches, etc. displayed specific to a time period.

For, I believe, my third year, I participated in the Memorial Day Ceremony that is presented at the Arborcrest Cemetery on May 28th. I was participating as part of the Washtenaw County Honor Guard. Other members of our Chapter who participated were John Kinzinger, Glen Johnston, and Ken Rogge. Speeches were made by Mayor of Saline Brian Marl, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Rep Adam Zemke, David Royer, Honor Guard, Ken Rogge, Honor Guard, and Miss Washtenaw County 2016, Heather Kendrick. Heather played the National Anthem on her violin. The Civil Air Patrol Cadets played Taps, lowered the flag to half mast, laid a wreath, and performed flag folding. Dave Royer told the history of Taps, and the meaning of the stars, stripes, and the thirteen folds. The weather was beautiful and so was the ceremony.

watchfireLater that day Meni and I attended the Watch Fire. Turnout was decent – especially considering forecasters watchfirecrosseswere calling for thunderstorms – but we dodged the bullet. We apparently had around 350 flags that were formally retired. Many stories and dedications filled the evening. It was also an emotional time for many of the participants as they remembered their lost family members and friends. Sandy M, George P, Don M, Fredo, Jon L, John K, Jane K, Meni and I, and several others remembered one more time our experiences with the ones we lost. We saw many new people who had never attended our Watch Fire before and there were several people from Team Red White and Blue who attended this year. One vet rode his motorcycle down from Sterling Heights with his grandson on the back. He had read about it on our website and decided to check it out. Of course, there was no lacking for hot dogs and brats. It was a great evening of socializing, and more importantly, remembering and honoring. I understand from John Kinzinger that after Meni and I left, it poured cats and dogs and ended up extinguishing the fire. Unfortunately, not all the flags were able to be retired because of that. There are more pictures on our website under Events>Photo Gallery.

SalineThe next day, May 29, our VVA and AVVA participated in the Saline Processional which started at the fire house and then proceeded down Michigan Avenue, with the AVVA members carrying their banner, followed by VVA 310 flag bearers. Pulling up the rear of our group was Steve Hitte carrying and displaying all the flags on the back of his truck. The audience was very enthusiastic and respectful of the flag. The processional ended at Saline’s Oakwood Cemetery. A few moments later we participated in their Memorial Ceremony. We heard a speech from Tim Driscoll, a quick hello from the Legion Post 322 Commander, and additional speeches by Saline Mayor Brian Marl, Congressman Tim Walberg, and Paulo Pereira. After that, the wreaths were placed. First came one by the American Legion, then another by the American Legion Auxiliary President, then another by the Sons of the Legion. Miss Sr. Poppy, Tess Carichner, and Miss Jr. Poppy, Brooklyn Andrews, placed a wreath. Then, I placed one on behalf of the Vietnam Veterans of America. The last wreath was placed by the Knights of Columbus. I also participated in the rifle volleys to close the event. It was a beautiful day, although just a little warm for the uniforms that many of us were wearing. Afterwards, as has been the tradition in the past, we were invited to eat a nice lunch of hot dogs, potato and pasta salads, beans, chips, and a soft drink across the street at the American Legion Post 322. The food definitely hit the spot.

kettlesThen, I was off to our VVA Memorial Ceremony at our Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Ypsilanti Township. The turnout was good. The weather had warmed up even more but many found coolness under the trees. I gave a short opening speech that was followed by the Invocation by our Chapter Chaplain Gordon Moore. The Posting of the Colors came next performed by the Washtenaw County Veterans Honor Guard along with bagpiper Tom Kennedy. The Ypsilanti Community Choir then sang the National Anthem. Ypsilanti Township Supervisor Brenda Stumbo was up next and noted that she was not one person keeping our Memorial area in great shape but a part of team. Brenda then emotionally remarked on how it gives her great satisfaction helping Veterans in whatever way she can. John Kinzinger then asked if there were any family members of the people whose names were on the wall and a several stood up. Next, the keynote speaker, our own LTC Charles Kettles, came to the podium and gave a great speech giving some history of past wars as we all listened intently. His wife Anne was in attendance also, keeping cool under the trees. As tradition holds, John K read the words that are on the plaque on the wall, followed by Wendy Hibbitts’ reading her father’s poem, “I Knew Them All.” Our own Marv Rivers read all the seventy-four names etched on the wall and two MIA’s. The choir returned to sing “God Bless America.” Gordon Moore dedicated and blessed the Memorial bricksBrenda with the names of the four members whom we lost over the past year: Rose E. Mosby, David A. Martinez, Frederick J. Reed, and David J. Belaire. Everyone joined Daisy Mull in singing “Amazing Grace”. We closed out the ceremonies with Gordon Moore giving our benediction followed by one of the Veterans Honor Guard members playing “Taps” with a rifle salute by the rest of the Honor Guard including me. We couldn’t have asked for much better weather, turnout and ceremony. I was glad I could take part in so many Veterans ceremonies, although I was certainly glad to get home and remove my boots! Again, there are more pictures on our website under Events> Photo Gallery.

MilanWe continued our busy season by participating in the Milan Parade on June 1. This year there were more AVVA members in the parade than VVA members. But, that has been the case in previous years. There were six AVVA members leading with their banner. Vance McCrumb and I carried flags. Roy Hall marched with us. Meni rode in Steve Hitte’s truck along with Steve & Shirley’s grandson Kyle. Steve drove his truck again with the flags on the back of his truck. Steve was kind enough to provide us with ice cold water. The turnout along the route was small compared to Saline’s Parade. While the crowd was enthusiastic, not as many stood when the flag passed by them as the crowd did in the Saline parade. All in all, it was a good time together with great weather to cap off the event.

Run1As has been the case for the last few years, the 44th annual Dexter – Ann Arbor Run had a little bit of rain to start it out Run2this past June 4th. This year was not as bad as in previous years, though. John and Jane Kinzinger apparently started posting road guards for the run from their home around a decade ago. Both of them were runners “in their younger days”. We had quite a few of our VVA members volunteer for the road guard duties. John and Jane graciously provided light breakfast treats before we posted for duty at various intersections along Huron River Drive. Our Chapter gets a small donation for our efforts.

We are called upon, from time to time, to Post Colors for different organizations and occasions. I personally feel honored when they think to come to us to request such services. And, I think it benefits us as we extend the range of the visibility of our organization. Two such requests came to us in June. The first was from the Michigan Garden Club which was holding their 86th annual State Convention at the Holiday Inn on Plymouth Rd. John K. and I said “yes” to post the U.S. and Michigan flags on behalf of our Chapter and the Veterans Honor Guard. Co-District Directors Carolyn Gardetto and Ruth Moline and their members said Gardenthey “were privileged to salute our flag.” Carolyn said, “each time I see the Stars and Stripes, my heart quickens because of what it means to me ... our freedom ... our rights ... I hold the members of the armed services in highest esteem.  Each time I say the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America, I recall learning it in my little one-room country school.” We received many thank-yous as we retreated from posting the flags. (Logo used with their permission).

The second request was to post the colors at the West Park Concert. For the past three or four years it has been my honor to participate inWestPark the Posting of Colors at West Park. It is done with a small detail of three or four volunteers. The usual group is me, Roy Hall and John Kinzinger. This year, however, there were only two of us Marv Rivers, a Marine veteran, and me, an Air Force dude. We are both members of the Washtenaw County Veterans Honor Guard. The program is presented by the Ann Arbor Civic Band. They play many of the old favorites which pay tribute to the military and its veterans. They played “Duty, Honor, Country” with Chuck Colby performing a reading during the number, “God Bless the USA”, “Stars and Stripes Forever”, and, of course, “Armed Forces Salute.” Several of the bandmembers, including conductor Bill Gourley, are veterans. While the threat of rain prevailed, the evening went well with only a very light rain at one point in the concert. Sitting on the lawn or lawn chairs, listening to great patriotic music; what more could one want?

4000We also conducted another Packing Party on Sunday, June 11. We needed to pack twenty-five PackingPartyboxes to make our historic 4000 boxes shipped since we started packing for troops some thirteen years ago. We packaged thirty-four boxes, so, congratulations to everyone who helped. Three or four who were at the Packing Party were also at the very first packing party. We had several special guests who helped pack and brought items to be packed. We had Vanessa Revelli (co-leader), Jennifer Miller (co-leader), first grader Julia Revelli, kindergartener Caitlin Miller, all from Dicken Daisy Scout Troop 40532. They brought 100 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies to add to the packages. We also had the President and Vice-President of the Military Moms United. They brought many, many items to be packaged. And, we also had Lou Steenstra from Michigan West Point Parents Club. I do not have the names of all the people who helped, so forgive me for that. There were about two dozen people there to help. Roy cooked hot dogs and Steve and Shirley Hitte brought homemade sauerkraut and sausage in a crock pot. Several people brought great desserts. We raised $500 in donations, so, as is the normal course of these packing parties, Elmer White graciously matched that amount. All the money goes to help defray the cost of shipping the packages. Again, thanks to all who came out and took time out of their busy day to help us help our active military personnel serving overseas. The packages are headed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. I’m sure they will all enjoy the contents of the stuffed boxes!

This article will have been published after the July 4th holiday, so I’m hoping many of you marched with us in the parade in Ypsilanti. It is always a well-attended event for spectators and, I hope, participants of our Chapter.

The Prez

SSgt Dave Draper

C-130 Loadmaster

See you at our next meeting
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