Chapter 83 Events

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

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


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

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

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.


Kent County Vietnam Veterans of America to Host Memorial Day Ceremony

Contact: Dave Skocik 302-736-8500 cell

Col. Daniel F. Merry

Col. Daniel F. Merry

DOVER – Colonel Daniel F. Merry will serve as keynote speaker at the Monday, May 25, 2 p.m. Memorial Day ceremony of Kent County Chapter 850, Vietnam Veterans of America, at the Kent County Veterans Park on S. Little Creek Road, Dover.

Col. Merry is the Commander of Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations at Dover Air Force Base. AFMAO is a Field Operating Agency under Deputy Chief of Staff, Manpower, Personnel and Services, Headquarters Air Force. AFMAO has global responsibility for all Air Force mortuary matters for current and past conflicts, operates the nation’s sole port mortuary and provides global contingency mortuary response teams in support of Air Force and combatant command requirements.

“We are fortunate to have Col. Merry available to speak and cannot think of a more appropriate representative, not only of the Air Force but of the duties that Mortuary Affairs performs for all branches, especially as we reflect on this day,” said Joe Startt Jr., chapter 850 president.

Chapter 850 built the Kent County Veterans memorial Park situated on the north end of the County Administration Building property. The 1 ½ acre site is home to a Vietnam memorial; a Gold Star Mother and Families memorial; a Korean War memorial, a future Middle East Conflicts memorial, and a planned War Dog memorial.

The park also features a “Dustoff” Huey helicopter, dedicated in 2014. Click on for more information or call 302-697-8384.

“The public is invited and encouraged to participate in this day of remembrance of those who ensured our freedom,” said Mr. Startt.


Remembering the Vietnam War: A 40-YEAR RETROSPECTIVE

Contact: Dr. Sam Hoff 302-270-2101 cell; or Dave Skocik 302-736-8500 cell


DOVER – Thursday, April 30, will mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.

Dr. Sam Hoff, George Washington Distinguished Professor, and professor of history and political science at Delaware State University, will host a 40-Year Retrospective of the end of the Vietnam War on April 30, from 7 to 9 p.m., in the Bank of America Auditorium on campus.

The event is open to the public. The BoA building, a large, three-story structure, can be accessed from College Road, which is adjacent to the parking lot. The auditorium is on the first floor.

“Most Vietnam veterans remember it as most divisive conflict since the American Civil War,” said Dave Skocik, public affairs officer for the State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America. “Many recall being blamed for a war they didn’t start but in which they served honorably. Some were welcomed home from the jungles by being spit on. Nevertheless, about 85 percent of the 2.7 million Americans who served in-country returned to successfully claim their place in mainstream America.”

The evening’s itinerary will include:

I. A brief introduction by Dr. Sam Hoff
II. Greetings from DSU administrators
III. A keynote statement of the occasion by Dave Skocik, Vietnam Veteran
IV. A DVD of the American Humanitarian Effort in Vietnam, a 40-minute production released by the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum in 2008
V. A Moderated Panel Discussion of War Experiences and their Legacy, including

Dr. Steven Newton, Professor of History, DSU
Dr. Yinghong Cheng, Professor of History, DSU
Dr. Niklas Robinson, Associate Professor of History, DSU
Four Vietnam Veterans

VI. Questions and Comments from the audience, moderated by Dr. Hoff
VII. Conclusion by Dr. Hoff
VIII. A Post-event Reception

Delaware VVA Chap 83 Gold Star Program Receives Award

Delaware Academy of Medicine Recognition Award

Delaware Academy of Medicine Recognition Award

Saturday, April 26, 2014, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 83 Gold Star Program was presented with the Delaware Academy of Medicine Public Health Recognition Award.

Pictured left to right:

Pictured left to right:
Judy C. Campbell, Bob Woodruff & Richard C. Campbell, Vietnam Era Veteran

Judy C. Campbell, VVA Chap. 83 Gold Star Representative, accepted the prestigious award on behalf of VVA Chapter 83.

Bob Woodruff, was the keynote speaker at the Awards Banquet and left the audience spell-bound as he described being seriously injured by a roadside bomb that struck his vehicle near Taji, Iraq in 2007. We encourage individuals to obtain his book “In An Instance”  so you may learn of his miraculous on-going journey to recovery.

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 83 continues to serve our veterans, Gold Star Families and community-at-large.

Like many volunteer organizations they often work silently and behind the scenes receiving little recognition and are honored to be a recipient of this prestigious award.

VVA Chapter 83 extends an invitation, to the public, for the 2nd Annual Gold Star Gala to be held 20 SEP 2014 at Dover Downs Casino & Hotel, Dover, Delaware from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Tickets will NOT be sold at the door and may be obtained by contacting VVA Chapter President Tom Daws at: (302) 738-8875 or Judy Campbell (302) 593-5991.

Pictured left to right:

Pictured left to right:
Executive Director Delaware Academy of Medicine, Tim Gibbs, Kathleen W. McNicholas, M.D., J.D. & Judy C. Campbell

Pictured left to right:

Pictured left to right:
Judy C. Campbell, Bob Woodruff, Richard C. Campbell

Kent Vietnam Veterans to dedicate Huey on Memorial Day


Contact: Dave Skocik 302-736-8500

Kent Vietnam Veterans to dedicate Huey on Memorial Day

John R. Sabanosh, Sr., a Vietnam "Dustoff" (medevac) crew chief and pilot.

John R. Sabanosh, Sr., a Vietnam “Dustoff” (medevac) crew chief and pilot.

A 2 p.m., ceremony on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, will see the dedication of a UH-1 “Huey” helicopter by Kent County Chapter 850, Vietnam Veterans of America.

The chapter acquired the aircraft last November and have been readying it to be displayed above the Vietnam Memorial at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park on South Little Creek Road, Dover.

“This will be a great day not only for our chapter, but for every Vietnam veteran in the state,” said Joe Startt Jr., chapter 850 president. “The Huey and its crews are responsible for saving thousands of lives in Vietnam, including my own.”

The keynote speaker will be John R. Sabanosh, Sr., a Vietnam “Dustoff” (medevac) crew chief and pilot who served in Vietnam from 1969-1970. More than 1,000 Dustoff pilots and crew were killed in action. Their slogan was “So Others May Live.”

Mr. Sabanosh enlisted in Army in August 1968 and trained as a Huey Helicopter mechanic who later applied for and entered flight training at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia.

After completion of flight training he was assigned to the 45th Medical Co. (AA) and was assigned as a Dustoff Crew Chief/Pilot who later flew more than 1,000 missions in hostile environments, rescuing wounded from the battlefield. He was shot down five times.

Credited with saving the lives of more than 350 American GIs in addition to Vietnamese soldiers, civilians, and even enemy troops, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, 14 Air Medals, an Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, National Defense Medal, and a Presidential Commendation.

Following military service Mr. Sabanosh served as a police officer in New Jersey in municipality, county and state capacities for 30 years, including traffic crash response, reconstruction, engineering, and training and investigation roles.

Now a consultant in those areas, he travels throughout the country for private companies and government agencies. He resides in Bishopville, Maryland with his wife Gail. They have four adult children.

The rain date will be Saturday, May 31, at 2 p.m. Click on for more information on the Huey.


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