National cemetery lays 15 Veterans to rest

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With the help of the Missing in America Project, the remains of 15 Veterans were interred at Salisbury National Cemetery, Salisbury, North Carolina, with full military honors, June 14, 2014.

The Rowan County Honor Guard and the North Carolina National Guard escorted the remains during what was the cemetery’s first Missing in America ceremony, with the theme:  “Gone, but not forgotten.”

The 15 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines served during World War II, Vietnam and Korea –all received full military honors during the ceremony.

Click here to view the Flickr gallery of the event.

Those 15 Veterans were:

  • Technician 5th Grade James Robert Liverman Jr., 1919-1996, U.S. Army, World War II
  • Yeoman 2nd Class Donald William Newman, 1921-2012, U.S. Navy, World War II
  • Motor Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class, Petty Officer Frederick William Tims Jr.,
    1922-2012, U.S. Navy, World War II
  • Spc. 4th Class Terry Wayne Oaks, 1958-2010, U.S. Army
  • Spc. 4th Class Fars Ruble Strickland, 1938-2012, U.S. Army
  • Cpl. Lonnie Cecil Wilborn, 1929-2012, U.S. Army, Korea
  • Pfc. Harry Lee Battle Jr., 1948-2008, U.S. Army, Vietnam
  • Pfc. James D. Boone Jr., 1927-2011, U.S. Army, World War II
  • Pfc. Leroy Lightfoot, 1924-2005, U.S. Army, World War II
  • Pfc. Emanuel Dion Robertson, 1960-2009, U.S. Army
  • Seaman Apprentice Walter Eugene Visage, 1938-2008, U.S. Navy
  • Pfc. and Seaman Apprentice Phillip Diaz, 1956-2012, U.S. Army and U.S. Navy
  • Pvt. Valerie Jean Nobles, 1954-1999, U.S. Marine Corps
  • Pvt. William Tony Plemmons, 1923-2007, U.S. Army, World War II
  • Airman Michael Jay Zimmerman, 1954-2004, U.S. Air Force, Vietnam
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62 year old ditches cane, wins 8 medals at National Veterans Golden Age Games

John Martinez earned a medal with eight of ten events.

John Martinez earned a medal with eight of ten events.

John Martinez had a pinched nerve, took medicine for pain in his legs and attended physical therapy at his local VA medical center in Fresno, California.

“I never thought I was going to walk again,” John said.

Then his doctors recommended surgery, something John couldn’t accept. He said, “When I was in the military you could always find me at the gym, and I felt great.”

That’s when a friend told him about Break the Barriers, a program that trains disabled Veterans and provides them with personal care from professional trainers. The program costs the Veteran nothing and is a former recipient of the VA Adaptive Sports Grant Program. Read More »

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Father and son compete together at the National Veterans Golden Age Games

Joseph (left) and Arthur Ribeiro both served in the U.S. Navy.

Joseph (left) and Arthur Ribeiro both served in the U.S. Navy.

Today’s Veteran of the Day is shared by a father and son who are competing together at the 2014 National Veterans Golden Age Games in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Joseph Ribeiro served in the U.S. Navy from 1943-1945. He drove a Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP) also known as a Higgins boat during World War II and made landings during the Battle of Guam and in the Philippines. “I always hit the beaches good and hard so my boys didn’t have to wade through the water much,” he said.

He also was a witness to General McArthur’s famous return to the Philippines, having driven one of the accompanying landing craft. He said, “McArthur said he would return, and he did. That was one of the proudest moments for me of the war.”

Joseph’s son Arthur Ribeiro followed in his father’s footsteps and served in the U.S. Navy from 1967-1969 aboard the USS Shangri-La aircraft carrier.

Joseph, who is visually impaired, became involved with the Blinded Veterans Association eight years ago. The association encouraged him to stay active and suggested he enter the National Veterans Golden Age Games, but Joseph didn’t know in which event he would participate.

He later recalled playing horseshoes with his son and brothers (who served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps in World War II). Joseph was so skilled at ‘pitching the shoes’ they used to put up a blanket in front of the stake to make the game more challenging. He was able to pitch ringer after ringer even when he couldn’t see the target.

This encouraged Joseph that he could still compete. In fact, at the 2013 National Veterans Golden Age Games he took home a gold medal in the horseshoes event.

This is Joseph’s fourth National Veterans Golden Age Games and Arthur’s second.

Thank you both for your service and good luck in the Games!

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Statement from Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson

Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson today released the following statement after President Obama’s announcement that he intends to nominate former Proctor & Gamble chief executive Robert A. McDonald to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

“I have been close friends with Bob McDonald for over 40 years; I welcome his nomination with the utmost enthusiasm,” said Acting Secretary Gibson. “He is an exceptional person—a great leader, a skilled manager, an extraordinarily talented executive of great experience, and a man with the strongest moral compass. I will do everything I can to help him be successful, and I expect the same to be true for our dedicated VA workforce.

“Personally, professionally, and on behalf of Veterans and all of our VA employees, I look forward to Bob’s speedy confirmation—and to working closely with him and the rest of our VA leadership team toward restoring the public trust in VA by providing Veterans and their families the very best in timely care and benefits.”

Acting Secretary Gibson’s full message delivered to VA employees is below:

Message from the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Sloan D. Gibson

Robert McDonald makes remarks at VA

Robert McDonald, the president’s nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs, makes brief remarks on his nomination while at VA on June 30.

Today, after a careful search, President Obama announced his intention to nominate former Proctor & Gamble chief executive Robert A. McDonald to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

I have been close friends with Bob McDonald for over 40 years; I welcome his nomination with the utmost enthusiasm. He is an exceptional person—a great leader, a skilled manager, an extraordinarily talented executive of great experience, and a man with the strongest moral compass.

All of those attributes contributed to his rise through the ranks to the top spot at P&G, a Fortune 50 company with more than 120,000 employees. Under his stewardship, P&G consistently ranked among the best companies in the world for leadership development, being twice named best company for leaders by Chief Executive Magazine.

Bob graduated from West Point in the top 2 percent of his class and served five years in the U.S. Army. He was a captain in the 82nd Airborne Division before leaving the Army to join P&G. He is a Life Member of the U.S. Army Ranger Association and the 75th Ranger Regiment Association.

His commitment to Veterans is deeply personal. His father served in the Army Air Corps just after World War II. His wife’s father was shot down over Europe during World War II and ended the war as a POW. Her uncle was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and still receives treatment from VA.

With his years of executive success and principled leadership philosophy, stressing caring for others and personal ethics—choosing “the harder right instead of the easier wrong,” in words he often quotes from the West Point Cadet Prayer—he is an inspired and inspiring choice to lead VA through this period of restructuring and reform.

The planned nomination of Bob McDonald to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs is a very positive step. I will do everything I can to help him be successful, and I expect the same to be true for our dedicated VA workforce.

Personally, professionally, and on behalf of Veterans and all of our VA employees, I look forward to Bob’s speedy confirmation—and to working closely with him and the rest of our VA leadership team toward restoring the public trust in VA by providing Veterans and their families the very best in timely care and benefits.

Sloan D. Gibson, Acting Secretary

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Read the full press release here.

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Veteran Spotlight: Carmen Schiavoni World War II B-17 Crewman

Today’s Veteran of the Day is Carmen Schiavoni. Carmen served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1942-1945.

After finding out that he was to be drafted he said, “To hell with that, I’m going to go where I want.” Carmen heard that in the U.S. Army Air Corps he only had to fly 25 missions and would then be discharged, so, “That was for me,” he said.

Carmen Schiavoni (far left) with his B-17 crew.

Carmen Schiavoni (far left) with his B-17 crew.

Carmen was a B-17 crewman serving at different times as an aerial engineer, gunner and bombardier. Due to a shortage of crewmen, the U.S. Army Air Corps changed the mission quota to 30. Carmen flew his 29th mission on June 4, 1944, two days before D-Day. Soon after returning from the flight, Carmen realized he could not sleep due to the anticipation of his 30th mission. He volunteered to go back out on an afternoon mission and completed his final mission that same day. Carmen received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions during World War II.

His post-war career in aerospace drew him to settle in the Los Angeles, California area. He first received care from VA in 1978 at the Long Beach, California VA Medical Center and soon began using the gym and facilities regularly.

Veterans Participate in the 28th Annual National Veterans Golden Age GamesCarmen has been a participant in the National Veteran Golden Age games since 2003. He first competed in cycling, later croquet and this is his second year in the table tennis event.

His message to Veterans and future service members is, “Go to the VA and find out what is going on. I didn’t know the VA was for all Veterans and I missed out.”

Thank you for your service, Carmen and good luck in the games!

 

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740 Veterans compete at the National Veterans Golden Age Games

740 Veterans from 40 states gathered in Fayetteville, Arkansas for the National Veteran Golden Age Game’s opening ceremony on June 29, 2014.

14554260213_e818bff49a_zThe National Veterans Golden Age Games provide a multi-event sports and therapeutic recreation program for Veterans 55 years of age and older. The games’ primary objectives are wellness, health promotion and disease prevention. It is a national showcase for the preventive and therapeutic value of sports, fitness and recreation for all older Americans.

The competitive events include air rifle, bowling, cycling, field (discus, shot, javelin), golf, horseshoes, mind sports (checkers, dominoes), nine-ball, shuffleboard, swimming, table tennis and track.

Most of the Veterans arrived at the University of Arkansas campus on Saturday afternoon where they will be staying throughout the games. The excitement and camaraderie of the Veterans became apparent as they assembled before the opening ceremony. Many of these Veterans have been competing in their event for years and have formed strong bonds with each other.

Veterans from Illinois cheer as their state is announced.

Veterans from Illinois cheer as their state is announced.

The camaraderie soon turned to rivalry as each state team was introduced separately and their state’s flag was carried down the center aisle by a Boy Scout volunteer, which also prompted loud cheers.

Special guests included University of Arkansas Chancellor Dr. David Gearhart, Executive Director of Veterans Canteen Service Ray Tober, U.S. Congressman Steve Womack and Department of Veteran Affairs Assistant Secretary for Operations, Security and Preparedness Kevin Hanretta.

The Athlete’s Oath was read by long time participant Robert “Sparky” Sparkes who was also celebrating his 96th birthday, a testament to the dedication many of these Veterans have to these games.

740 Veterans from 40 states attended the opening ceremony.

740 Veterans from 40 states attended the opening ceremony.

The ceremony’s conclusion with the torch-lighting also seemed to ignite the competitive spirit in Veteran participants. These Veterans have been training for these games for the past year and have worked closely with VA recreational therapists who coach them in their events.

Many of these Veterans have received awards in service to their country from conflicts such as World War II, Korea and Vietnam, but now seek to earn medals highlighting their commitment to their personal fitness and health.

Congratulations to all the Veterans participating and good luck!

Find out more about the National Veterans Golden Age Games at: http://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/gag/index.asp

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VA News #579

#579
June 30 & July 7, 2014

Hosts: Genevieve Bilia & Jerome Mapp
Excutive Producer: Ken McKinnon
Run Time: 15:02

VA News is a weekly program designed to provide timely news and information about the Department of Veterans Affairs. The newscast is co-sponsored by the VHA Employee Education System and the Office of Public Affairs in partnership with other headquarters and field offices.
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Veteran Spotlight – Korean War Veteran Chester Pedersen

Today’s Veteran of the Day is Chester Pedersen. Chester served in the U.S. Army from 1951-1954. Chester completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and soon after completed a basic engineer course, but he didn’t receive a job designation or MOS. “I didn’t know what I was going to be doing, but I knew I was going to Korea” Chester said.

He was assigned to the 523rd Engineer Petroleum Distributing Company which received deployment orders to Korea.

Chester Pedersen in Pusan, Korean.

Chester Pedersen in Pusan, Korean.

The company traveled to Washington state by train and soon after embarked for Japan. Once arriving in Japan, Chester and the 523rd took a ferry to Pusan, Korea.

After arriving in Pusan, the 523rd became the 781st Engineer Pipeline Company and Chester was finally assigned a MOS, company artificer or as Chester put it, “I fixed things that needed fixin’.” Read More »

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Life in the fast lane

Chris header webChris Clayton grew up with two passions in life: military aviation and racing. The first was from listening to his grandfather’s stories of working on P-51 Mustangs during World War II, and the latter from spending countless summer nights at racetracks with his father.

He recalls his father giving him a choice between attending other sporting events or going to the local speedway. There was never a question in the young boy’s mind — Chris always picked racing.

“If it went fast, I loved it,” he said with a smile.

But the dream of somehow being involved in racing would have to take a temporary backseat to make room for another calling… Read More »

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Navy Veteran, LGBT advocate, named “Local Hero”

In celebration of LGBT Pride Month, KCET-Link and Union Bank featured Navy Veteran Chaplain Tom Carpenter as one of its Local Heroes.  Carpenter advocates for members of the LGBT community serving in the military.  The Local Heroes videos honor people making a difference in their communities and neighborhoods.

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