Presidents Dispatch

18JUN22     POW/MIA Chair of Honor Rededicated

Delivered by Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 989 President J. R. Stafford.

Ladies and Gentlemen, three years ago The Reno Aces and Vietnam Veterans of America – Chapter 989 officially dedicated this POW/MIA Chair of Honor and the accompanying plaque which reads:


This unoccupied chair honors the more than 82,000 service members who may be prisoners of war (POW) or missing in action (MIA) and symbolizes that there will always be a place in this stadium awaiting their return.

That night we were joined by Colonel William J. Elander, US Air Force (retired) and former prisoner in the infamous, “Hanoi Hilton” and released in 1973. 

Last year we were joined by 102-year-old Staff Sgt. John Levitte, US Army, captured during the Battle of the Bulge and released in May 1945. 

Tonight, we are joined by 98 year old Captain Raymond Waters, US Army Air Corps., Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medals, Purple Heart who was shot down over Italy in 1943 and spent 2 years in captivity in Germany and released in May, 1945. He returned to Service for Korea and left the Army as a Captain in 1958.

Although they have since passed, surely Colonel Elander & SSgt. Levitt are here with us again this evening as we rededicate this Chair of Honor to ALL our POWs and MIAs.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have a moment of silence for our POW/MIAs?

< silence >

Thank you and “To our missing Comrades I can assure you that, “America is forever grateful for your bravery and sacrifice in service to our nation and, …

We Will Never Forget!”

J. R. Stafford

Ahoy Military Appreciation Night Participants,

Thank you all for a great night.  Our efforts to bring in more “military” activities and static displays during Military Appreciation Night with the Reno Aces seemed to be well received all around. 

Thanks to:  

  • The Aces Staff, including Devin, Dora, AJ, and Vince for giving us the opportunity to “partner” with the Aces and hopefully make things work well this evening
  • The Staff at Northern Nevada State Veterans Home (Dardi, Sheri, and even Amy M.) for their transport and care of Captain Raymond Waters as this evening’s POW honoree.  Mr. Waters may have been out of the care facility, but he was never without care in the form of TLC while at the ballpark.  
  • The various recruiters who came and did their thing representing the various services
  • The United Veterans Coalition for their “Short Notice” response to be the Color Guard for the evening
  • The Army recruit Command for their on field “Oath of Enlistment” for five new soldiers
  • The Army Guard for their static display out front of the ballpark
  • Kimberly Ahrens-Dixon for her always wonderful renditions of both the National Anthem but God Bless America …that’s why I call her “Pipes!”
  • The vintage Military vehicle owners for their display out front 
  • John & Linda Dickinson who were the face of our “outreach” efforts at the outreach table
  • Ray Scow, our Color Guard Captain and Flag Display Master for his always impressive flag displays for the public
  • Mel Grotberg, Rick Kaufmann and Frank O’Boyle for work and relief in Outreach, Flag display and overall, whatever needed to be done
  • Brigitte Stafford for being the “Go To” person with questions about any and all aspects of the Event.  She had it covered or knew “who did.”

All things considered, I think we can give ourselves better than a “Passing Grade” on our efforts.  THANK YOU ALL for a great night.

Semper Paratus,

J. R.

Ahoy 989ers, 31MAY22

It’s been a LONG week and I’m just now getting around to THANKING everyone for making VVA 989 one of the best Veterans Service Organizations in Northern Nevada!

Beginning last week with our 15th Anniversary Dinner at Tamarack Village, 989ers responded to our silent auction and helped raise over $1,600 for our partners, The Katie Grace Foundation and our Veterans Assistance Account.  Reports from the 100+ attendees at the dinner were that folks had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the entertainment, the meal and most of all the outstanding video John & Linda put together.  Thank everyone for your contributions!

Saturday’s Outreach effort at the Classic Chevy Club’s “Summer Salute” at Rancho San Rafael Park was well attended and thank you’s go out to:  The Greys, the Malones, Ray & Buddy, the Staffords, Lynn Gilespi, Becky Degn, Nancy Benson, and Becky McDonald and others for holding down the fort.  (Literally, holding down the fort as the wind was eventually very fierce and folks had to pull up stakes early or risk being blown all the way to Winnemucca!)  We raised a little money for selling ducks, but were able to hand out over 20 of the DOD’s 50 year commemorative pins and a TON of Chapter applications.  …Some of which will probably join us for Brunch on Friday.

Monday’s early morning Outreach at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery for Memorial Day Services in Fernley was also quite successful for handing out 50 year Commemorative Pins (25) and again, more Chapter brochures and instructions to hit our website to download applications…and some recipients may join us for Brunch on Friday, 03JUN at the Gold’n Silver.  Many thanks to Hugh Ricci, Ray and Buddy, the Greys, and Staffords for their participation Monday AM in Fernley.

Monday’s “Cruise” at the Northern Nevada State Veterans Home was not as well attended by the public and their vehicles as was hoped, but those that did attend and participate were very well received by the residents of the home.  Thanks to Frank O’Boyle, The Malones, The Greys, The Theiss’, the Staffords, The Grillos, Jody Morris and Rand & Buddy.  The Flag Trailer was (as usual) the hit and our thanks go to the Veterans Coalition (Mary Sedgwick and Rick Rose – Buglers) for playing Taps at 1500 prior to the start of our cruise.

Huge thanks to all that made the previous events possible and we will have lots more to do in the coming weeks and months.  …Watch the website for more…but a few highlights are:  The Summer Military Picnic with the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is scheduled for Bartley Ranch on Saturday, 11JUN22.  The flier is on our website and the picnic is always a great way to eat and relax with like minded folks.  If you haven’t gotten your ticket(s) yet, do so right away.  The Flier is on our website < >

The Chapter Meeting on 16JUN22 with presentations of Quilts of Valor for some members and a guest speaker about “The Convention of States.”

The following Saturday Night the 18JUN22 we have our Military Appreciation Night with the Reno Aces and will be rededicating our POW/MIA Chair of Honor at Greater Nevada Field.  (The flier is on the website < > for reserved seat tickets @ $18 plus a handling fee.

And, we are planning to be in the 04JUL22 parade up on the Comstock in Virginia City.  Details of that gig will be forthcoming.  For now, contact our Color Guard and Parade Captain, Ray Scow, at < > or 1 (775) 843-6022 to let him know you want to have your vehicle in the parade behind the Flag Trailer.

For now, I hope to see some of you at Brunch on Friday.

Semper Paratus,

J. R.–

J. R. Stafford, President
Vietnam Veterans of America,Sierra Nevada Chapter 989PrezVVA989@gmail.com1 (650) 224-5900

“Never Again Will One Generation

Of Veterans Abandon Another!” 

Ahoy 989ers,

Earlier this evening at the Chapter meeting at the Bunker, members of VVA 989 voted on the slate of candidates for the 2022-2023 Chapter year.  …I’m again humbled to represent you as your President for the coming year.  The Chapter also welcomed a new Vice President, Frank O’Boyle, and returned our Secretary, Hugh Ricci and our Treasurer, John Dickinson for a one year term.  

The election also provided us with four new Board of Directors positions for a two year term,  beginning in May 2022-2024.  Seated for this new term will be John Ostrander (our outgoing Vice President), Norman Allen (returning to the Board after a short absence), Dale Bohannan (a new candidate bringing fresh ideas to the board) and Bill Grey who was reelected for an additional two year term.  

This evening the four new Board Members join four existing Board members, who’s terms will expire in 2023.  They are:  David Levine, (Current Board Chair) Red Kittell (our Brunch Meister), Susan Malone (our Chaplain), and Rick Kaufmann (our Webmaster).  

Also serving an additional one year term on the Board is our immediate Past President, Linda Dickinson as prescribed in the By-Laws, and Brigitte Stafford as the AVVA Area Representative.  Brigitte’s position is “advisory only” and she is a non voting member of the Board.

If you are “doing the math, you’ll tally a total of 13 voting members on the Board and one advisory member.  And, note too, that the Treasurer does not vote on financial matters.

Bottom line: “We” (The Board of Directors) can’t do it alone, and appreciate your help in the coming year.  We also very much appreciate the past work of Ray Scow as an outgoing Board Member and Secretary to the Board.  He will remain on the Parade Committee and our Color Guard Captain and serve us as Sgt.-at-Arms.  Thank you Ray.  Your time and talents will be missed, but you’ve earned some time off, Good Sir!

In closing a big thank you to the 33 members who came to the Bunker for the election this evening.  …Come back next month, 19MAY22 for “eats” provided by the Board prior to the Chapter Meeting.  Our guest speaker will be from the Nevada Veterans Memorial Plaza (NVMP) as they are in the final push to finish the Plaza about ready to open it up for visitors later this summer.

Have a great week, and thank you for the honor of serving as your President for another year. 

Semper Paratus,

J. R. 

“Year End” 2021 Chapter Report

Ahoy 989ers,

Having just completed my calendar “Year End” (Q-2) Chapter report for the Governor’s Veterans Services Commission, I began reflecting on how much we have accomplished this quarter and for the entire year, despite COVID and other challenges in 2021.

As I began recalling the year’s events, I knew I wanted to share them with you, so I began making the list separating events with a semi-colon.   To my surprise the list went on for over a page, single spaced and was also most difficult to read.  For both of our benefits, I then went to bullet items which is easier to follow, but still long.  Bottom line?  Looking back over 2021, I am pleased to remind everyone what we accomplished. 

  • We successfully launched an upgrade of the Chapter’s website,, which is providing valuable information to our Chapter membership and to veterans of all eras 
  • We still held twelve “First Friday” Brunches
  • Held twelve Board meetings and several “special finance” meetings
  • Held eleven VVA Sierra Nevada Chapter 989 meetings
  • Held eight AVVA meetings
  • Participated in five parades
  • Participated in a couple of COVID “Cruises” too 
  • We held the first official gathering of 250 plus (socially distanced) participants in an outside venue in Washoe County.  This, as the COVID lockdown eased when we did the Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Day Event (VRE) at the Hawkins Amphitheater at Bartley Ranch
  • We also worked with the Reno Aces and rededicated our POW/MIA Chair of Honor at Greater Nevada Field
  • We sent representatives to both State AND National VVA/AVVA functions and attended a regional VVA meeting in Reno
  • We continued to do our “outreaches” at by-monthly Gun Shows
  • We also supported Military Appreciation Day at the Reno Air Races
  • We supported the Veterans Guest House Radiothon
  • We supported the Memorial Day Remembrance at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery (NNVMC) in Fernley, and we then hosted a “Memorial Day Cruise” for the Veterans at the Northern Nevada State Veterans Home in Sparks (NNSVH)
  • With the help of the Nevada Woodchucks and Home Depot, we delivered six custom made outdoor Planter Boxes and planting soils to the NNSVH
  • Working with partners at Home Depot, we delivered and built patio furniture and umbrellas for the NNSVH
  • We decorated three wings of the NNSVH with no less than nine fully decorated Christmas trees and holiday decor.  Some of the trees and decorations were also donated from our friends at the Home Depot stores or the Katie Grace Foundation
  • We delivered over 780 gallons of hand sanitizer from the Katie Grace Foundation to the NNSVH and Veterans Guest House
  • We held an impromptu Hot August “Afternoons” Classic Car show and Ice Cream Social for the residents of the NNSVH
  • We delivered petfood and supplies from the Nevada Humane Society in Reno to the Douglas County Fair Grounds for displaced wildfire victims
  • We supported the 9-11 “Memorial Ruck” with our Flag Trailer, snacks, water and as a backdrop for services adjacent to the Nevada Memorial Plaza in Sparks
  • We provided Chapter Color Guard support for NDVS events including the openings of the National Conference of State Directors of Veterans Services at the Peppermill
  • We also provided Color Guard Support for VVA Region 8-9 Conference in Sparks 
  • We found time for a Chapter “field trip” and BBQ at the US Coast Guard Station at Lake Tahoe
  • We were honored by the Army Guard Family Support Center for our Chapter’s “support” of their efforts
  • Several of our number were also honored by the Governor being recognized as Veterans of the Month (VOM) or Veteran Supporter of the Month (VSM)
  • We were honored by the Sierra Nevada Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) with a wonderful dinner at the Bunker
  • We presented two Scholarships to deserving UNR and TMCC students
  • We “Trademarked” the name: “From CAMOS to Classrooms”
  • We held our first Scholarship Fundraising Gala which raised $30K for future veteran scholarships
  • We began a “Donuts and Discussion” group for Chapter members disgusted after the August military debacle in Afghanistan
  • Working with Comstock Quilters, we presented ninety-six “Quilts of Valor” to residents at the NNSVH
  • We continued the annual work of the Gary Meckler Memorial Holiday Gift Basket Program for veteran families in need working through the Army Guard Family Support Center
  • We helped pick up the old wreaths from “Wreaths Across America” in 2020 in January 2021, and we helped place wreaths in December 2021 at the NNVMC.

For those of you who are still “tracking,” a few of the things for the third quarter of VSC calendar and the first quarter of the Chapter’s 2022 calendar year are:

  • Brunches, Baard, and Chapter Meetings
  • Take down and store Christmas Decorations at the NNSVH
  • Pick up the old wreaths (goat food) in Fernley in January
  • Continue planning for, and then put on, a Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Day Event on 26 March 2022
  • Present DOD 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Pins to residents at the NNSVH on 29 March 2022
  • Begin the search and nominating process for April Chapter elections.  As some of you know, some of our officers (having served well and honorably over many years) are moving on and we are looking for a few good men or women to fill in the projected vacancies
  • 2022 is the 15th Anniversary of the Chapter and we are looking for an appropriate anniversary celebration later in the year
  • Who is up for another Scholarship Gala later in the year?
  • …And, the list goes on.

The bottom line here is VVA Sierra Nevada Chapter 989 is probably the busiest and one of the most recognized Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) in the Reno area.  The Chapter’s work (and play) is something that comes with your membership, and it is up to you as to what you choose to contribute.

“I’m honored to be your President and thank all of you who participated in many of the events the Chapter took on during 2021.   I also look forward to your new or continued support in the coming year.”

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays – and a Happy New Year.

Semper Paratus,

J. R. Stafford

President VVA 989