VietNow News

Partially disabled license plate with handicap emblem available in North Carolina and maybe other states

Partially disabled license plate

Here’s part of an e-mail we got from Ray B. Davis Jr.

I just renewed my NC Partially disabled license plate and to my surprise when it came in the mail, it had a handicap emblem which allows parking in a designated handicap parking space.

Many years ago I had mentioned this in the news e-mails, but it never passed the NC Legislature. But it was reintroduced year after year and has finally become law. So if you are in North Carolina and have a disability rating from the Dept. of veterans Affairs you can apply for the NC Partially Disabled license plate at the State DMV.
North Carolina DMV

Everyone else can go to their own state’s veterans web site to check on benefits in their State at:
Check benefits in your state


VietNow National opens new Vietnam Veterans Online Forum

Vietnam veterans forum.

Our original “Locator and Message Board” did a great job of helping veterans (and family members) keep up on veterans issues, and was a great place to ask questions – but eventually things wear out, and it finally became necessary for us to set up a new and improved veterans forum.

This new Vietnam Veterans Forum should be easier to use, and should be much easier to read and to figure out what’s going on. That’s our hope, and we also hope that you will give it a try.

Of course there won’t be many messages or postings on the forum at first, but we expect the forum to become an active, interesting, and even fun place fairly soon.

Take a look, and feel free to post something.


Annual POW/MIA Candlelight Remembrance Ceremony & Concert

POW/MIA flag.

FREE and open to the public. Concert at 6:30 PM
6:30 PM Friday Sept. 9, 2016
Loves Park City Hall Auditorium
100 Heart Blvd.
Loves Park, Illinois
Sponsored by the Rockford Charter Chapter ViêtNow
Contact: 815-877-2874


The search for POW/MIA SFC Alan Lee Boyer, U.S. Army Green Beret is over: His remains have been found and identified

pow/miaAccording to an e-mail from Darrell and Linda Gilgan (Rockford Charter Chapter of VietNow) and Judi Boyer Bouchard, the remains of Army SFC Alan Boyer have been found and identified – forty-eight years after he was listed as missing on March 28, 1968.

Army Special Forces, Green Beret, Boyer was on a reconnaissance mission several miles inside Laos along with Sergeants George R. Brown and Charles G. Huston, along with seven South Vietnamese (ARVN) soldiers when they came under heavy enemy fire and requested extraction. Because of the rough terrain, the helicopter couldn’t land, so they lowered a rope ladder. The seven ARVN soldiers made it up the ladder, but just as Boyer started climbing the rope ladder, it either caught on jungle foliage or was shot away, aborting the mission. Boyer and the other two Americans were never seen or heard from again – and search parties turned up nothing.

Boyer’s mother, Dorothy Boyer, and his sister Judi Boyer Bouchard, never gave up hope that they would eventually find out what happened. After many long years, Dorothy Boyer died a few years ago, but Judi stayed hopeful and continued working with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and the National League of POW/MIA families – and finally, came word on March 7, that Boyer’s remains had been found.

According to the e-mails we received – although some facts are still classified – the DNA from Alan’s mother and his sister, which was given many years ago, is a perfect match with that found in the remains given by an “activist for peace” which she had obtained from three Lao Nationals (“remains traders”). The remains are more than a mere tooth such as was found and ID’d as belonging to Sergeant Brown in 2001. Judi is convinced that the remains are definitely from Alan.

Alan’s father, Charles “Chuck” Boyer, passed away in 1995. Alan’s mother, and a second mother to many VietNow members who knew her, Dorothy Boyer, passed away in 2013.

Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors on June 22nd, 2016, at 1:00 p.m.

From our magazine. Two past articles about Dorothy Boyer, Alan Boyer’s mother who never gave up hope:
Holding on to hope
Now she knows

From our magazine. A past article from Judi Bouchard, Alan Boyer’s sister who never gave up hope:
Message from a POW/MIA bracelet


The 31st Annual VietNow National Convention will be May 13-15, 2016, at the Holiday Inn Crystal Lake (Illinois)

Holiday Inn Crystal Lake, Illinois.
Not many details yet, but the VietNow National Board has announced that the 31st Annual VietNow National Convention will be held May 13-15, 2016, at the Holiday Inn Crystal Lake, Illinois.

Crystal Lake is a northwest suburb of Chicago, close to major highways and Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. We’ll provide more information as planning progresses.

We had a our national convention here a few years ago, and we know it’s a great hotel, a convenient location, and the prices are reasonable. Stay tuned for more information.

Click this link to make your hotel reservations.

Click here for convention registration form you can print and fill in (PDF file).


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from VietNow

Christmas ornaments.May this Christmas end the present year on a cheerful note
and make way for a fresh and bright New Year.
Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Rockford Charter Chapter VietNow presents National POW/MIA Recognition Day, Friday, September 18

Rockford Chapter VietNow POW/MIA post.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremonies are held throughout the nation and around the world on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, at schools, churches, national veteran and civic organizations, police and fire departments, fire stations, etc. The POW/MIA flag is flown, and the focus is to ensure that America remembers its responsibility to stand behind those who serve our nation, and do everything possible to account for those who do not return.

The first POW/MIA Remembrance Day Ceremony sponsored by Rockford Charter Chapter of VietNow took place in the mid 1990s. Mike Parker was quoted, “It was a team effort. We felt it needed to be done and we did it. It was an effort to raise public awareness of the issue, just like it is now, and to encourage them to seek out their representatives to take action.”

Bruce Jacobsen happened upon the first POW/MIA ceremony as a passer-by and has been the event chairman since 2007 of the VietNow-sponsored Free POW/MIA Candlelight Remembrance Ceremony. “Free” means no price of admission to the event, but also relates to compelling the Freeing of the POWs and MIAs, not just remembering them or being in fellowship with their families.

This year’s event will be held on the usual third Friday of September starting at 6:30 p.m., with a pre-concert by the Rockford Wind Ensemble – vocals by Ryan Jensen.

The Spring 2015 issue of the VietNow National Magazine featured a ten-minute play, which dramatized the scene as a man and his wife prepare to mark the grim anniversary of his brother’s disappearance in Vietnam…when they receive a surprising gift from a stranger…a POW/MIA bracelet. The play, written by Michele Merens, of Bayfield, Wisconsin, will be a highlight of this year’s candlelight remembrance ceremony, with a reading of the play by Rita McGeary and Ken Dull.

September 18, 2015 • Loves Park City Hall Auditorium
100 Heart Boulevard • Loves Park, Illinois
Pre-Concert at 6:30 p.m. • Ceremony at 7:00 p.m.
Click here for map to the location.


In Country: A Vietnam Re-enactment Film

In Country: Vietnam Re-enactment Film
Not many of us would want to go back to Vietnam, at least not for any war-time adventures – but in recent years, some people have been re-creating battles of the Vietnam War as re-enactments – similar to the way some have done re-enactments of the American Civil War, Revolutionary War, and other wars.

And now there’s “In Country,” a great documentary film covering “a mix of combat enthusiasts, Iraq veterans, and even a former South Vietnamese Army officer” over a weekend in the woods of Oregon, re-enacting some of the aspects of the Vietnam War.

New VietNow member, Christopher Gaynor, was a volunteer consultant for the film, helping with the authentic look and feel of the re-enactments. Blending fantasy with trauma, this film brings the Vietnam War back to life – at least during the time you’re watching it.

The first run of the documentary is over, but it looks like you might still be able to arrange a showing for your group (Vietnam chapter, etc.), and also you can buy a copy of the film on DVD.

This is a first-class production, and you can watch the official trailer for the movie, and find out more about it right here:

“In Country” was produced by Oscar Alfa Mopic and Naked Edge Films – with Co-Directors and Co-Producers Mike Attie and Meghan O’Hara, along with Editor Lindsay Utz – distribution by Bond Strategy and Influence/BOND360.


Forgotten photos of Vietnam 1967-1968

Vietnam photo. Copyright 2009, Christopher Gaynor.

Vietnam photo. Copyright 2009, Christopher Gaynor.
Both photos: Copyright Christopher Gaynor.

When Christopher Gaynor came back from Vietnam as a sergeant E-5, he had taken a lot of great photos during his tour, but at some point, he must have put the photos away and hadn’t looked at them for quite awhile. Now, many years later, some of those photos are available for viewing, and if you haven’t seen the photos yet, now is your chance. Christopher Gaynor photos on Daily Mail and on TIME Magazine.

These are not the same Vietnam photos you’ve seen elsewhere…these photos will bring back lot of memories.


Cost-of-living raise for disabled veterans

Dollar sign.
Sometime in October we should know the exact amount, but it looks like disabled veterans will be getting a cost-of-living raise in their disability payments. The increase is tied to the cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients, and Congress decides that amount in October. Don’t get too excited though – the raise in 2015 was 1.7 percent and probably won’t be much more than that coming up.


Agent Orange Memorial in Rockford, Illinois

VietNow Loren Salzman interview. on Agent Orange.
Vietnam veteran and Rockford VietNow Charter Chapter member Loren Salzman was interviewed on Rockford Fox 39 TV, talking about Agent Orange and the way the deadly herbicide is still affecting Vietnam veterans more than forty years after the war. Click to see video of LZ Peace Memorial and Loren Salzman interviewPhoto courtesy of Ken Nelson, LZ Peace Memorial.


Tomah (Wisconsin) VA Was Warned About Dispensing Excessive Amounts of Opiates

According to various news reports, VA investigators were warned (by outside pharmacists) as early as 2012 that the VA Medical Center in Tomah, Wisconsin, was prescribing far too many opiates to veterans. In fact, the amounts of opiates were said to be so out-of-line that there was the possibility that the Drug Enforcement Administration could have revoked the Tomah VA’s license to dispense controlled substances. Many veterans have reported feeling that rather than provide real treatment, the Tomah VA would rather just prescribe heavy-duty drugs. When a Marine Corps veteran, under the care of the Tomah VA Center died after doctors had added another opiate to the fourteen drugs he was already taking, the situation hit the national news, and investigations continue. For more information, read here.


VA Will Pay Benefits to Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange Residue on Airplanes

Air Force C-123
As many as 2,100 Air Force reservists and others who may have been exposed to Agent Orange residue on airplanes that flew during the Vietnam War are now eligible for compensation for related health problems. This covers military personnel who flew on or worked on Fairchild C-123 aircraft in the U.S. between the years 1969 to 1986. Even though the personnel covered by this new rule may not have ever been anywhere near Vietnam, the fact that these airplanes – many of which were used to spray Agent Orange over Vietnam – were likely contaminated with Agent Orange residue, which may have been enough to cause serious health problems for the people who came in contact with these airplanes. Cost estimates for this new coverage is expected to run at least $47.5 million over the next ten years. Photo of C-123-2 courtesy of U.S. Air Force.


Our 30th Annual National VietNow Convention at Pheasant Run Was Great Fun

VietNow National Convention 2015

Hosted by the DuPage County Chapter of VietNow, this year’s convention was held May 7, 8, 9, and 10, at the beautiful Pheasant Run Resort & Spa, at St. Charles, Illinois – just a little outside of Chicago.

Joe Lewis, our national president wrote a little bit about the “more official” happenings, and you can read that right here, but to get the real feel of what the convention was all about, be sure to view the hundreds of photos from this great annual event:


Sorry. We’ve removed the 2015 convention photos to make room for the 2016 photos, which will be coming soon.

Make plans to be there for next year’s convention…if you are a VietNow member or an associate you are more than welcome to attend – we would love to see you there. Soon as more details are available, we’ll let you know.

Photos by Ken Nelson, VietNow Staff Photographer


Some Air Force Reservists Who Were Exposed to Agent Orange While Working on Planes After the War and Became Ill May Soon Become Eligible for Disability Benefits

After years of denying such disability claims, the VA now seems ready to finalize a rule that would cover approximately 2,000 veterans who flew or worked on certain military aircraft between the years 1972 and 1982. Because many of these airplanes may have been contaminated on the inside and the outside with Agent Orange, it’s possible that personnel working on those airplanes could have been exposed to the toxic herbicide, and certain illnesses that showed up later may have been caused by this exposure. Photo courtesy of National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.


Our 30th Annual VietNow National Convention: We got a lot of work done, and had fun, too

Thanks to the DuPage County Chapter of VietNow for hosting this convention, and for putting everything together. By all accounts, everything went very smoothly, and all the VietNow chapter delegates, guests, and other attendees had a great time over the entire weekend.


Our 30th Annual National VietNow Convention
coming up soon (May 8, 9, and 10) at Pheasant Run

Pheasant Run Resort & Spa

Hosted by the DuPage County Chapter of VietNow, this year’s convention will be held May 8, 9, and 10, at the beautiful Pheasant Run Resort & Spa, at St. Charles, Illinois – just a little outside of Chicago.

Located on 250 acres, the resort offers 473 newly renovated rooms and exciting entertainment options. Within easy reach of O’Hare International Airport and Midway Airport. Award-winning dining and entertainment. Three swimming pools. Golf course. Fitness center. WIFI. Of course the main attraction, as always, will be the interesting seminars, guest speakers, and organizational meetings – everything directly related to issues Vietnam veterans are thinking about and dealing with.


Indifference as vets returned to silence: Rockford Register Star multi-part story focuses on the 40th anniversary of the end of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, and includes interviews with Vietnam veterans

The writers at the Rockford Register Star, the newspaper in Rockford, Illinois, really outdid themselves this time. Their multi-part story, with interviews of several Rockford-area Vietnam veterans is a “don’t-miss-it” read. The list of Vietnam-era veterans featured in the multi-part story includes: Nick Parnello, Sonny Sowell, Fred Smith, Skip McDonald, Dan Jensen, John McNamara, Bob Theroux, Darrell Gilgan, John Borling, Doug Anderson, Tom Curtis, Walt Watson, Tom Hudson, Joe Whinnery, Loren Salzman, Stan Campbell, Mary Nicholls, Dave Scott, and Jim Nelson. Also interviewed were Judi (Boyer) Bouchard, whose brother Sgt. Alan Lee Boyer was MIA in Vietnam after his helicopter went down and was never recovered – and Vung Phan, a South Vietnamese who came to the U.S. in 1990.

Most if not all these people are VietNow members or have been associated with VietNow at one time or another, and the list includes the founder of VietNow, a former Rockford mayor, a peace activist, a woman Vietnam veteran who also served in the Pentagon for many years, a TV-station technician, a POW who was held at the infamous Hanoi Hilton, a Vietnamese refugee, a war-time photographer, a veteran of the Army’s Mobile Riverine Force, and – well – follow the link to read all the stories of these very impressive people. Read more.


Vietnam veteran Mary Nicholls talks about her service

It wasn’t too long ago that Mary Nicholls was president of VietNow’s Rockford Charter Chapter, but it was quite awhile ago that she joined the U.S. Army and went to Vietnam. The Army was quite a different experience in those days, especially for women – and Nicholls, who now volunteers at the VA Vet Center in Rockford, Illinois, says that her time in the military and her Vietnam experiences made a positive difference in her life. Read more.


Operation Chieu Hoi: War Vets Up Close and Personal

Current and former members of VietNow’s Rockford Charter Chapter, took part in a “history lesson” at Boylan High School in Rockford, Illinois recently. Vietnam veteran and VietNow founder Nick Parnello, along with Vietnam veterans Paul Cassioppi Louie Gugliuzza, Mary Nicholls, and Chuck Larson sat down for panel discussions with junior and senior students at Boylan, as the veterans shared their war-time experiences, and answered questions from the students. Read more.


VA Secretary McDonald admits to lying about being in Special Forces

Headlines popped up all over February 24, when recently appointed VA Secretary Bob McDonald admitted that he had lied about being in the Special Forces. Even though he had gone through Ranger School, he never was in a Special Forces unit. News reports say that McDonald was talking with a homeless veteran in Los Angeles, and was less-than-truthful in describing his military service. For one opinion on this, check out the blog post by VietNow National President Joe Lewis.


VietNow celebrates Veterans Day 2014 in Washington, DC

VietNow in Washington, DC for Veterans Day 2014.

Story and photos by Marcia Stepanek. Our two days in Washington, DC, began on Monday, November 10, with the National Vietnam & Gulf War Veterans Coalition Leadership Luncheon in Crystal City, Virginia. Many were in attendance, notably our beautiful American Gold Star Mothers and ladies from the Vietnamese community. Our guest speaker was Commander Kirk S. Lippold, USN (Ret.) who was the Commanding Officer of the USS Cole (DDG-67) on October 12, 2000, when the ship was attacked killing seventeen U.S. sailors. Following the luncheon and a full afternoon of speakers and presentations, we headed down to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. As volunteers with the National Park Service, we helped visitors locate names on The Wall and did name rubbings. Later that evening we dined at the Daily Grill with the American Gold Star Mothers. Following dinner, many of us headed over to the Froggy Bottom Pub to visit with our good friends and VietNow members, Hien and Hoang Bui, who are owners of Froggy Bottom Pub.

Tuesday, November 11, dawned with sunshine and warm, dry temperatures. Of special note, Veterans Day 2014 marked the 30th Commemoration Anniversary of the Three Servicemen Statute. On Veterans Day, we toured the Korean War Veterans Memorial before the ceremony at The Wall. As is tradition, yellow roses were presented to our American Gold Star family members. Following the ceremony, everyone trekked up to Froggy Bottom Pub for our annual “pizza party.” We had over 250 veterans and special guests join us. After dinner, the George Washington University Veterans Club joined us to celebrate a belated Marine Corps Birthday. Cakes were ceremoniously cut by the oldest and youngest Marine, and then enjoyed by everyone. All in all, Veterans Day 2014 was a very special occasion…beautiful weather, autumn colors, luncheons, dinners, seeing old friends, making new friends, visiting the National Mall, enjoying the Veterans Day Observance at The Wall, and the camaraderie shared by VietNow. See photos.


The Wall That Heals
Rockford Charter Chapter of VietNow brings it to town

Bruce Jacobsen with The Wall That Heals

As the result of a lot of hard work by members of the Rockford Charter Chapter of VietNow, and lots of other people, too, The Wall That Heals made the trip to Rockford, Illinois (headquarters of VietNow National) where it was visited by thousands of veterans, families of veterans, and all kinds of people in the surrounding area. Story and photos right here.


Our 29th Annual National VietNow Convention
was a major success (May 2014)

The Crowne Plaza, Madison, Wisconsin

See our convention photos.Every year, VietNow holds a national convention. This year was our 29th annual – held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin.

VietNow members, their families, and veterans from all around the country show up for this happy occasion.

Activities include informational seminars, guest speakers, and organizational meetings – all activities directly related to concerns shared by most Vietnam veterans.

Be sure to check out the photos from our VietNow National photographer, Ken Nelson – he was there all three days, and got a lot of great shots.


Joe Falzone, VietNow Co-Founder Dies

VietNow founders

Joe Falzone
and Nick Parnello

Sometime in 1969, two soldiers from the same home town (Rockford, Illinois), met up with each other on a hilltop near Pleiku – and promised each other that if they ever made it back home, they would get together sometime for dinner, and to talk over their war-time adventures. And sometime in the early 1980s, those two soldiers, Nick Parnello and Joe Falzone, did get together with some other Vietnam veterans to talk about what Vietnam had meant to them. Those two veterans came together with other Vietnam veterans in the early 1980s, and from those beginnings, VietNow was formed.

On January 7, Joe Falzone died at his home in Cherry Valley, Illinois, after a hard-fought two-year illness.

In addition to his association with VietNow, Joe was a member of the Vietnam Veterans Honor Society, and was instrumental in the building of the LZ Peace Veterans Memorial in Rockford, Illinois.

Joe did a lot of work to help other veterans, was widely known and well respected, and will be missed.


Tribute to the Fallen

On December 7, 1941, the USS Arizona was sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii – the beginning of America’s involvement in World War II, 72 years ago.

On September 2, 1945, the Japanese signed the unconditional surrender papers on the deck of the USS Missouri – the end of the war.

On December 7, 2013, two massive gun barrels – one from the USS Arizona, and one from the USS Missouri, became part of the new World War II memorial in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.

Named the “Guns to Salute the Fallen,” the memorial carries names of the 1,902 Arizona sailors who died when the ship was sunk by the Japanese, and two massive gun barrels – one each salvaged from the USS Arizona and the USS Missouri.

This video does a good job showing the massive size of the gun barrels from these ancient powerful battleships.


The First Person You Must Lead Is You

Book cover: The First Person You Must Lead Is YouBased on her lifetime of leadership lessons, from playing sports in high school to taking responsibility for over 200,000 soldiers and civilians in Iraq, Retired Brig. Gen. Becky Halstead’s book, 24/7: The First Person You Must Lead Is You, discusses her five fundamental leadership truths and 30 principles. The first female commanding general in U.S. history to lead at a strategic level in combat, Becky’s candor provides a relatable path of lessons in self leadership, and features humorous, poignant, and relevant stories from her real-life experiences in the military and in civilian life.