Chapter 546 News

U.S. 202 Rededicated as the Gold Star Highway in Honor of Families of Soldiers who have made the Ultimate Sacrifice for Their Country

Images Courtesy of Delaware Gold Star Families
Article Courtesy of Delaware Department of Transportation

Wilmington- (New Castle County) – The DelawareDepartment of Transportation (DelDOT) announced today the rededication of U.S. 202 from the Delaware/ Pennsylvania line south to the I 95 interchange as the Gold Star Highway. Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan along with Governor John Carney made the announcement to an assembled audience within the sculpture garden of the Blue Ball Barn. Formalizing the event, the Governor proclaimed Monday, September 25, 2017 as “Delaware Gold Star Mothers’ and Families’ Day”.

CNN has described the Gold Star designation as a venerated status that no one wants. For nearly 100 years, inclusion has been earned for losing an immediate family member serving during war/conflict. A Gold Star Lapel Button is issued to immediate family members of those who have lost their lives in the defense of democracy during WWI and II, and any subsequent armed hostilities in which the United States became engaged. It is also issued for Act of Terrorism deaths. Formal recognition of these families was launched in 1947 by an Act of Congress. The Next of Kin Lapel Button was authorized retroactive to March 29, 1973, for those who lost their lives while serving on active duty in other than a combat theatre or act of terrorism.

Reading from his proclamation, Governor Carney said, “Gold Star Families have suffered tremendous loss; it is the duty of our State and Nation to bring honor and remembrance to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, as well as those who remain behind – continuing to live graciously in their absence.” The Governor continued, “the State of Delaware offers sincere gratitude to Gold Star Family members while honoring the tremendous sacrifices their loved ones made in order to protect and secure the freedoms and liberties that Delawareans enjoy each and every day. I call on all individuals throughout the State to join in commemorating those who lost their lives, while supporting their loved ones who continue to live in our midst.”

“The Gold Star Highway will serve as a daily reminder of the wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and other family members who lost a loved one in service to our nation,” Secretary Cohan said. “We know that naming a road cannot diminish the loss that Gold Star Families have endured, but we do hope that our actions here today will convey the profound respect we have for their sacrifice. As we hope we demonstrated on Sept. 15 when we dedicated the POW / MIA Parkway in Dover, the state of Delaware honors the service and the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform.”

While several organizations representing Gold Star family members have been established in memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, respecting the privacy of families, there are no public records on how many Gold Star Families there are. However, over 6,000 United States service members have died in the conflicts within Iraq and Afghanistan alone.

First observed in 1936 as Gold Star Mothers’ Day, the last Sunday of September is now observed as Gold Star Mothers’ and Families’ Day.

Those immediate family members eligible as a gold family member include: widow, widower, mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, mother through adoption, father through adoption, foster mother in loco parentis, foster father in loco parentis, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, son by adoption, daughter by adoption, brother, sister, half-brother, and half-sister.

Larence Kirby, Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs said, “My most poignant memory about identifying “fallen heroes” at the Port Mortuary (Dover) was ensuring their return home to awaiting families. These loved ones, Gold Star Families, deserved closure and to be reunited with heroes who laid down their lives, defending our freedoms.”

In 2006, American Gold Star Sibling, Judy C. Campbell, approached VVA Chapter 83 to express her appreciation for all the chapter does within the community. However, she also expressed her concern there was nothing being done to honor and recognize Gold Star Families that reside in Delaware. As a result, the goal of the newly formed VVA Chapter 83’s Gold Star Program was established to honor and recognize the Gold Star Families that reside in Delaware, recognizing the supreme sacrifice made to secure democracy.

Concluding the celebration Judy Campbell told the group, “the work we do is the model for other states to follow, ‘lest we never forget.'” As President Harry Truman said, ‘Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.’

View the Proclamation and Gold Star Highway Photos.

Kent Vietnam veterans to honor Vietnam Dustoff Association crews who saved them

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 1, 2017
Contact Dave Skocik 736-8500 cell

Kent Vietnam veterans to honor Vietnam Dustoff Association crews who saved them

Joe Startt Jr. in front of a Dustoff Huey helicopter bearing the 45th Medical Company patch similar to the one that saved his life in Vietnam

Joe Startt Jr. in front of a Dustoff Huey helicopter bearing the 45th Medical Company patch similar to the one that saved his life in Vietnam


“That others may live,” was the slogan of the UH-1 Dustoff helicopter crews who flew into firefights to rescue the wounded in Vietnam. That slogan and heroism has been passed down to today’s medical evacuation crews who serve in harm’s way across the globe.

The Vietnam Dustoff Association is coming to Dover for their September 21-23 national convention. They will hosted by Kent County Chapter 850, Vietnam Veterans of America.

They have special meaning to Joe Startt Jr., Chapter 850 president, who will never forget his own lifesaving ride after being wounded in Vietnam in 1969.

“I remember being told to hold on, help was on the way. In less than 15 minutes the ‘whop, whop, whop’ was like an angel’s voice telling me I’d survive. The UH-1 Huey on display at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park serves as an ongoing reminder of their heroism,” he said.
Paul Davis, vice president of Chapter 850, worked for two years with the federal government and even the White House to secure the helicopter. That was followed by a road trip caravan to Florida by Joe Startt and other members of the chapter to pick it up with the help of a trucking company sympathetic to veterans.

One of the highlights will be a Friday, September 22, 7 p.m., dinner hosted by the chapter at the Modern Maturity Center and followed by several events the next day.

Saturday’s agenda will include a special 10 a.m. ceremony at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park on S. Little Creek Road in Dover where crew members will be honored, followed by lunch at the Dover AFB dining facility where the Dustoff crews with be greeted by representatives of the 436th Airlift wing and some of today’s airmen. A special tour of the AMC Museum will follow.

“These men, several thousand of whom paid the ultimate price saving lives in Vietnam,” are our brothers who traded their tomorrow for our today,” said Mr. Startt. “We will always honor and revere them and we hope to see our brother and sister Vietnam veterans from across the state join us.”

The $35 plated dinner will be open to the public on a first-come first-served basis. The cutoff date is September 15. “Sponsorships are also available to help with the costs of honoring these heroes,” said Paul Davis, VVA State Council president. For tickets or sponsorship opportunities call 302-697-8384 or email Paul Davis.

Photo by Dave Skocik

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Retired Gen. Frank Vavala, presented Delaware Gold Star Representative, Judy C. Campbell with a prestigious award.

Gold Coin presentred to Judy Campbell, Gold Star Family Representative from Retired Adjutant Gen. Frank Vavala

Gold Coin presentred to Judy Campbell, Gold Star Family Representative from Retired Adjutant Gen. Frank Vavala

Retired Adjutant General of the Delaware National Guard, Gen. Frank Vavala, presented Delaware Gold Star Representative, Judy C. Campbell with a prestigious award.

The award for excellence was presented, in a private service, at the annual Memorial Day Service, Tuesday, May 30, 2017, at the Delaware Memorial Bridge Memorial Park. This annual service honors the sacrifice of the men and women that have given the “last full measure” in devotion and service to our Country.

There was no more fitting date or location for this presentation than the Delaware Memorial Bridge where Gold Star Mothers, Fathers, Sisters and Brothers gathered to pay their respects.

Delaware Gold Star Program has and continues to bring awareness of the daily sacrifice our Gold Star Families live with. During the private service it was discussed how we now have reserved seating at events for our Gold Star Families, Gold Star License plates, banners and multiple events throughout the year where our Gold Star Families are honored.

Our Delaware Gold Star ladies, particularly love the annual Victoria Tea where the ladies share Gold Star Families do have fun!

Our work is one where we vow to honor the motto of our Vietnam Veterans, “Never Again Will One Generation of Veterans Abandon Another” and we will honor the families whose loved one gave their all!

Delaware Gold Star Representative shared with Gen. Vavala, “Our program has united Gold Star Mothers, Fathers, Spouses, Children and Siblings that never knew there were others that share in their loss.  We’ve come a long way,  but we still have a lot of work to do and we are honored to serve a cause greater than self.”

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Thank you – The Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 becomes law

Veterans of America (Courtesy of  Vietnam Veterans of America E-Mail Communication)

Legislative Update

December 23, 2016

The 114th Congress has recessed for the year.

On behalf of John Rowan, VVA National President and the Board of Directors we would like to thank you for all of your grassroots advocacy support over the past year.

With that said, on December 16, 2016, the President of the United States provides VVA with a tremendous victory when he signed into law H.R. 6416, the Jeff Miller and Richard Blumenthal Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2016.

The new law in Subtitle C-Toxic Exposure, includes S.901 the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 an issue that VVA has been working on for the past eight years. Go to Congress.gov and type in H.R. 6416 to view the new law.

The bill would not have passed into law without your grassroots support and VVA shares this victory with you.

Have a safe and wonderful holiday and VVA look forward to working with you in the upcoming 115th Congress on legislative issues that will enhance the lives of veterans and their families.

The Government Affairs Team
Rick, Bernie, Sharon, Kris, Tom, Carl, Jim, and Joe

“Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

VA Veteran Town Hall Meeting – November 14th

The next VA Town Hall Meeting is on Nov. 14 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. to be held at the Levy Court Building in Dover.  The meeting will be proceeded by a Veterans Benefits Resource Fair from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Veterans Town Hall - Nov 14th, 2016

VA Veteran Town Hall Meeting

The event allows Veterans to provide feedback on VA programs and receive information about VA benefits and services.

VA Veterans Townhall 2016

Veterans Job Fair – August 22, 2016 & September 1

A Veterans Job Fair hosted by the Delaware Congressional Delegation, Senator Thomas Carper, Senator Chris Coons, and Representative John Carney, on Monday, August 22, 2016 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Wilmington University’s Dover Campus. Another Job Fair is also scheduled for September 1st, 2016 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Middletown Fire Hall in Middletown, DE. View Senator Carpers Newsletter below.

Veterans Job Fairs' - Sen Tom Carper Newsletter 08-05-16

Dover home a remedy for homeless veterans

(Posted with permission from Delaware State News)
Dover home a remedy for homeless veterans
By Craig Anderson
Delaware State News

DOVER – As Michael Angeline determines how to move his life forward, he’ll do it from a comfortable living space while contemplating the next moves.

The 53-year- old former member of the U.S. Army 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” is thankful for the support of a longtime Dover family connected to Mayor Robin Chris tiansen’s 2015 Mayor’s Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness campaign.

After losing his family and HVAC business of 30 years, Mr. Angeline was in a homeless situation seemingly unimaginable in better times.

“I lost everything,” he said.

Project manager Brandt Tue, left and Olivia Tue Smith, owner of the house, both of Dover, stand inside the patriotic living room at the newly refurbished home for veterans on Queen Street in Dover Wednesday afternoon. Delaware State News/ Dave Chambers

Project manager Brandt Tue, left and Olivia Tue Smith, owner of the house, both of Dover, stand inside the patriotic living room at the newly refurbished home for veterans on Queen Street in Dover Wednesday afternoon.
Delaware State News/ Dave Chambers

Enter Vietnam veteran Brandt Tue, a former United States Marine machine gunner and mechanic from Dover who was raised to always extend a helping hand. Mr. Tue and his aunt Olivia Tue Smith followed the family precedent and helped a person in need.

During a three-month stay at the Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing, Mr. Angeline’s life path intersected with Mr. Tue, who was committed to providing struggling veterans housing and a support system designed to further aid those attempting to re- stabilize themselves.

Mr. Tue was involved in the “Mayor’s Challenge” and determined to find three veterans to share Ms. Smith’s recently renovated family home in the 100 block of South Queen Street.

The search was tailored to veterans “trying to achieve something for themselves.” he said. “This is not a halfway house.

“Whoever comes here must be already clean and have an honorable discharge from the military.”

A tenant since November 2015, Mr. Angeline – who said he’s had two open-heart surgeries – receives daily visits from Mr. Tue to monitor his physical and mental well being. During a get-together earlier this week, a transport to Christiana Hospital ensued as the tenant appeared to be struggling with pneumonia.

Before heading north, Mr. Angeline said, “The Tue family is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

While Mr. Angeline does pay rent, he isn’t charged the going rate for an immaculately kept, furnished home that feels new in the downstairs area and includes roughly a quarter acre of land out back, Mr. Tue said.

Any interested veteran in need of housing can call 734-1286 or email vcots@comcast.net for further information.

“All anyone needs to bring here is their clothes,” Mr. Tue said. “Everything else is here for them.”

Landlady Olivia Tue Smith of Dover, stands on the front porch of the newly refurbished home for veterans located on South Queen Street. Delaware State News/ Dave Chambers

Landlady Olivia Tue Smith of Dover, stands on the front porch of the newly refurbished home for veterans located on South Queen Street.
Delaware State News/ Dave Chambers

Ms. Smith, who was born in the at least 100-year- old home’s upstairs bedroom, said her parents believed in caring for those in difficult situations, as Mr. Angeline found himself in.

“This is making him happy in heaven,” she said. “Mother supported his vision of always reaching out to help someone.

“I’m sure they’re both smiling as much as they can right now.”

On Jan. 20, the Veterans Welcome Home Team celebrated the placement of 50 homeless veterans, including some families, in stable residential environments, including 21 who were chronically homeless.

Bill Farley, vice chairman of the Commission of Veterans Affairs who oversaw the endeavor, credited a gathering of federal, state and local agencies for joining to address homelessness among veterans, along with various nonprofit and charity organizations.

“We feel this is the template not only for the Dover area but it might be the best way to address homelessness as best we can,” Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said.

According to Mr. Farley, the state housed 198 veterans during its own concurrent push in 2015.

Homelessness continues

The issue is hardly solved, however, and Mr. Farley described the homeless population as a “moving target” due to constantly changing life circumstances. Each week, a couple veterans seek help from the Delaware Veterans Trust Fund designed to be a bridge for financial emergencies, he said.

“Today there might be a vet who loses his job for whatever reason,” Mr. Farley said. “The number of homeless can also be affected by how the economy is going at the time.”

Mr. Tue believes there are still 50 or so homeless veterans in the Dover area, some living near railroad tracks that cut through the city, others bunking down under a bridge over the St. Jones River.

The mission to assist the residentially placed veterans with a support system to receive benefits, care, and capacity to re- establish a work history continues, Mr. Christiansen said.

“These efforts were not meant to just warehouse the veterans who now have homes,” he said. “The plan is to coordinate services, help them find jobs so that they will not remain chronically homeless.”

The guiding force of the collaborative group was simple, Mr. Christiansen said.

“We felt it was unconscionable for veterans who served and protected our country to be out on the street when they left the military,” he said.

Understanding the plight

Ms. Smith and project manager Brandt Tue, both of Dover, stand inside the newly remodeled kitchen with appliances generously donated from Delawareans happy to help the veterans.

Ms. Smith and project manager Brandt Tue, both of Dover, stand inside the newly remodeled kitchen with appliances generously donated from Delawareans happy to help the veterans.

The first time he attended a group meeting, Mr. Tue said he wanted to be the “grunt, the person out in the field reaching the real-life stories and making a difference.”

While surrounded with organizations and “acronyms,” Mr. Tue said he brought a realistic perspective to what everyone aimed to improve.

“I wanted them to have a flavor of what veterans feel and what they are going through,” he said. “I wanted them to understand that veterans are more than just a number.”

Mr. Tue said he needed at least 11 years to “get his feet on the ground” after receiving help from the Veterans Affairs branch in Wilmington, after going roughly three decades without a diagnosis. He graduated from Delaware State College during the time and worked many years for the Mobile Oil Corporation, but something never felt quite right about his emotional existence.

Thus, Mr. Tue said he knows turmoil in a veteran when he sees it, and is committed to helping find solutions after identify.

“I can tell whether they have something they need to take care of just a short time after meeting them,” he said.

Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 741-8296 or canderson@newszap.com. Follow @DSNAnderson on Twitter.

Chapter 83 Member Participates In Local Play

Chapter 83’s Treasurer, Tom Slater, performed in “The Frog Prince” at the Everett Theater in Middletown, DE.
His role as “King Glum the Mediocre” was well acted and happily received by the audience.
He is pictured here with fellow actors and in another photo with Chapter President, Tom Daws, and Julianna Stape

Tom Daws,  Julianna Stape and Tom Slater

Tom Daws, Julianna Stape and Tom Slater

Tom Slater (King) pictured here with fellow actors

Tom Slater (King) pictured here with fellow actors

Vietnam Dog Handler to keynote War Dog Memorial Dedication on Aug. 22

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 8, 2015
Contact Dave Skocik 736-8500 cell

Vietnam Dog Handler to keynote War Dog Memorial Dedication on Aug. 22

DOVER – The keynote speaker for the Saturday, August 22, 10 a.m., dedication of the War Dog Memorial at the Kent County Memorial Park on S. Little Creek Road, Dover, will speak from experience and be joined by current handlers and their dogs.

Vietnam Dog Handler Bob Biss

Vietnam Dog Handler Bob Biss

Wilmington native Bob Biss will forever remember King, the German Shepherd who protected him during three tours in Vietnam between 1968 and 1970. They served with the Army’s 212th Military Police Sentry Dog Company in Long Binh and Vinh Long.

“This is not only a tribute to the highly trained K9s that have saved so many lives, but it is also a recognition of their handlers from all branches and in all conflicts,” said Kent County Chapter 850 president Joe Startt Jr., whose chapter built and maintains the memorial park.

USAF SSgt. Jason Spangenberg and War Dog Rico, whose images will be on the stone memorial

USAF SSgt. Jason Spangenberg and War Dog Rico, whose images will be on the stone memorial.

The memorial will feature the image of active duty Air Force dog handler SSgt. Jason Spangenberg and War Dog Rico, a German Shepherd. “We couldn’t think of anyone more appropriate for the memorial than a current handler,” said Mr. Davis, vice president of chapter 850 and state council VVA president. Mr. Davis also had a K9 partner during his career as a police officer.
SSgt Spangenberg and Rico served in Afghanistan and were awarded the Bronze Star for detecting IEDs, Improvised Explosive Devices.

The unique, 5-foot black granite stone has arrived from India and will be installed several days prior to the ceremony. It will be sited near the Huey Helicopter that was dedicated on Memorial Day 2014. More than 5,000 dogs have served the US Military in Iraq and Afghanistan and other areas of the Middle East. “Max,” a current film, highlights the interest in these highly-trained, loyal animals.

In addition to Dover AFB, the ceremony will include Dover Police Department’s Private First Class Joe Bauer and K9 Gunner; New Castle County Police Department’s Officer First Class Cory Best, and K9 Diesel; Milford Police Department’s Private First Class Timothy Webb, and K9 Henk; Wilmington Police Department’s Officer Robert Steele, and K9 Neo, and possibly others. The dogs and their handlers will stand separately from the audience and be acknowledged.

Contributions for the War Dog memorial are still being accepted at VVA Chapter 850, PO Box 1718, Dover, DE 19904 with “war dog” in the memo section.

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