Whidbey Crosswind The Puget Sound Veterans’ Monthly | April 2018
The gift of warmth Whidbey Island Quilters give to veterans. z pg. 4
Whidbey Crosswind is a supplement to the Whidbey News-Times
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Concert to benefit Whidbey veterans have crafted a show of a “playful back and forth” between music of different time periods, Berg said.
By LAURA GUIDO
Islanders can benefit local veterans and listen to soloist and duet performers at the Stars of Whidbey benefit concert 7:30 p.m, April 20 and 21 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Entry is free but donations will be accepted for the Whidbey Veterans Resource Center.
The resource center is a nonprofit organization that provides transportation, discussion groups, assistance in obtaining benefits and a place for veterans to meet. Much of the money raised goes toward helping transport individuals to services that aren’t provided on the island.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and there’s a good chance it will make some money for the Whidbey Veterans Resource Center,” said Gene Berg, a volunteer at the center and one of the organizers.
“We have a lot of people who served in the military who have gotten older now, and it’s difficult for them to get to the veterans administration on the mainland,” Berg said. The suggested donation is $20 and funds raised will be doubled by a matching grant of up to $10,000.
The event will feature performances of Broadway musicals and the “Great American Songbook” by more than a dozen local singers and musicians, according to a press release.
“It’s a suggested donation, and it’s for a very good cause,” said Berg. ”It’s all about serving people who have served in the military.”
Director Ken Merrell and music directer Eileen Soskin
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NAS Whidbey Island earns Installation Excellence Award Naval Air Station Whidbey Island has received the 2018 CommanderIn-Chief ’s Installation Excellence Award for large naval installation. The award program recognizes the top three large and top three small installations based upon performance within the command’s strategic goals and also fitting the criteria established by the Office of the Secretary of Defense in regards to the award. Among this criteria, NAS Whidbey’s capacity for mission support managed to complete 87,300 radar operations and 9,800 flight plans in the largest airspace controlled by a naval air station. NAS Whidbey Island Search and Rescue notably completed more Air Force Rescue Coordination Center
missions than any unit with 23 percent of total DoD and Coast Guard missions. “NAS Whidbey Island SAR is an elite group of military professionals that love doing search and rescue,” said Lt. Mark Hlousek, public affairs representative and pilot for the SAR team. “We pride ourselves on the level of knowledge and professional level of care that we provide to those in need and we train hard and realistically so that when we are actually faced with the mission of rescuing someone, we are able to confidently and safely do that.” Hlousek commented that what enables the SAR team to perform successful rescue missions with such reliability and safety comes down to their dedication to training.
NAS Whidbey Island’s mission support capabilities, however, are not its only shining endeavor as the base clearly ensures all the avenues of managing an effective air station, especially in relation to energy conservation and the surrounding environment. NAS Whidbey Island was recognized as the 2016 Secretary of the Navy Energy and Water Management Award winner, received the 8th SECNAV Gold Award for energy and water programs and reduced 37 percent in energy intensity and
The base was awarded the Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Award for natural resources conservation, the Navy Community Service Award for environmental stewardship and Navy Whidbey Recycle earned the Solid Waste Association of North America’s Gold Excellence Award for composting systems. Quality of life for the sailors and civilians stationed on base is also addressed with the MWR program earning its second consecutive 5-star accreditation, scoring in the top five for the Navy. MWR opened additional recreational activities, such as a new 18-hole disc golf course. GENERAL CONTRACTOR
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‘GIVING TO THE GIVERS’
Marines wrapped in quilts and gratitude By PATRICIA GUTHRIE Whidbey News Group
“We just want to thank them for their service.”
nita Smith likes to make grown men cry.
Anita Smi th Whidbey Island Quilters
quilts to date.
She succeeded once again recently as handmade quilts were given to members of Col. Richard “Buck” Francisco Marine Corps League Detachment 1451, a group of former Marines. Smith is behind Whidbey Island Quilters, which is a loosely-constructed group that began making quilts several years ago for veterans. Fittingly, they’re called Quilts for Veterans; it’s completed and presented 88
“We just want to thank them for their service,” said Smith, who’s unofficial title is Quilt Supervisor. At the most recent giving of the quilts, a few Marines got misty-eyed while radiant smiles beamed from others. Each was presented a colorful quilt, all different in pattern and color. The quilt presentation was a surprise addition to the monthly meeting of the Marine Corps League Detachment, comprised of
mostly South Whidbey residents. “We wondered what was up,” said Joseph Johnson, his quilt wrapped around his shoulders. “What an amazing gesture.”
Frank Thorton receives a quilt from Anita Smith.
Smith and other quilting members presented the quilts one by one. Many say the giving ceremony is the best part of the long journey each quilt undergoes.
The gatherings of these quilters are not old-fashioned quilting bees with women sitting in a circle, needle and thread in hand.
“I grew up in a military family, so it’s close to my heart,” said Susan Dirkes.
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VOL. 8, NO. 3 WHIDBEY CROSSWIND STAFF Executive Editor & Publisher............................KEVEN R. GRAVES Associate Publisher.................................... KIMBERLLY WINJUM Editor.............................................................JESSIE STENSLAND Reporters................................PATRICIA GUTHRIE, LAURA GUIDO Admin/Production Manager......................... JENNIFER WILKINS
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CONTINUED FROM A1 Some prefer the first step — sorting through bags of donated fabric and picking out pieces to join together like a puzzle. “Cutting and sewing whatever’s in the scrap bag, I love to make matches,” said Mary Beth Clark. People of all ages show up at the Deer Lagoon Grange meetings the first Wednesday of the month to help assemble the quilts. They stay a couple hours or all day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Making quilts is second nature to Ginny Mayer, 88. “I had five daughters and made quilts for all of them,” she said. “Now, I have 12 grandkids and 17 great grandchildren, so what I’m doing is stocking up on making quilts for all of them.” She makes time for stitching quilts for veterans because she enjoys seeing their faces light up, and she’s partial to patriotic colors. “I enjoy sewing for veterans in red, white and blue and bright colors,” Mayer said. Smith particularly wanted to surprise this group of Marines known for their Christmas “Toys for Tots” drive. “We’re giving to the givers,” she said during the ceremony. “It’s real
hard to surprise people who are givers.” But surprise they did. The retired Marines were scheduled for their monthly meeting at Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club in Langley March 14. Many also had dinner at the restaurant before the 6:30 p.m. gathering. Smith let member Tom Keltner in on the secret so he could invent “misdirections” to get the whole detachment to the meeting. “I told some stubborn members that we were having a special dinner of Maine lobster and prime beef, that I needed them to RSVP to plan how much to order,” Keltner said. “I told some members that awards were to be presented for outstanding Marine of the year. “I told not one soul,” he said of the top secret plot. “Not my wife or my best friend. Nobody knew the truth. I felt like a little school kid with Anita’s and my secret.” The quilters quietly assembled before the league’s scheduled meeting and hid a huge pile of quilts under a sheet on a table. Wearing their shiny red jackets and hats embroidered with their detachment name, members filed in. That’s when the gig was up. Smith
“M.J.” Margaret Johns is photographed by Don Nilson as Frank Thornton looks on. Each veteran is given a certificate with the quilts and photographed for the records of Quilts for Veterans. introduced the quilters and their reason for crashing the gathering. Tom Keltner choked up when presented with a quilt with the word “Believe” stitched in. Keltner predicted that the detachment, which he said is comprised of “old, used, crusty Marines,” wouldn’t think themselves deserving of such a gift. “As survivors of real combat action, we carry guilt. Some had
breakfast with their buddies in the morning only to cry over their ultimate sacrifice that same evening,” Keltner said. The Detachment is named after Richard “Buck” Francisco, who died in June 2016. Francisco was a longtime South Whidbey resident with a long list of military achievements. “I am sure most of us wanted to cry like hungry babies during the presentation, but waited until the
ride home,” Keltner said. “You can not heal sorrow in a shell, alone, in silence.” At the end of presentation, Ed Donery, detachment sergeant. at arms, summed up the feeling in the room. “Collectively, from the bottom of our hearts, we are so thankful to each and every one of you for recognizing us and all veterans.”
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“Where your house becomes your home”
Veterans who help veterans need help
Stanwood American Legion Post No. 92 is raising money to fix a rotting beam By JULIE MUHLSTEIN Herald Writer
The distinct Spanish missionstyle building has a past. It was built in 1939, by the Works Progress Administration, as East Stanwood City Hall. More than a piece of history — a place with a past — today it serves a vital purpose. As Stanwood American Legion Post No. 92, it helps veterans in need. With its volunteer Veteran Service Officers, the post guides people who have served in the military through the paperwork tangle to obtain veterans benefits. The Legion hall hosts monthly prime-rib dinners, and offers bingo and other social opportunities. Members send care packages to local men and women now in the armed forces. A lifeline for veterans, Stanwood’s Post 92 now has a need of its own. When it was built, an 80-foot beam made by flattening an oldgrowth tree was used as a main support. Under a saggy part of the hall’s floor, that beam is rotting. In 2014, the group replaced about 30 feet of it. Phil Lewis, the 85-year-old chaplain of Post 92, is leading a “Replace the Beam” fundraising project. The goal is $90,000. The money would be used to jack up the building,
cut out the existing 2-foot-by-2 foot beam, put a form in place, add rebar and pour cement to create a new 50-foot concrete beam. Project plans include replacing part of the floor. Last year, Post 92 members pitched in with $14,000 to fix a leaky roof, said Gina Seegert, 45, an Army veteran and the post commander. In 2015, members raised $11,000 to build a service office where veterans could discuss claims issues in private and their records could be safeguarded. “We don’t have a bunch of assets left,” Lewis said. Just after the Korean War, while in the Navy from 1953 to 1957, Lewis flew out of Guam as part of an airborne early warning squadron. Photos and other military mementos line the walls of the spacious hall. There’s a bugle and a pair of combat boots. A Washington “Former Prisoner of War” license plate is framed with a picture of Hersheal Boushey. An Army veteran, he was captured by the Japanese on the Philippine island of Corregidor in 1942 and held in Manchuria as a POW until 1945. He died in 2014 at age 94. And there are reminders of young men killed in recent wars. Army Spec. Justin Hebert, a 20-year-old
from Silvana, died in 2003 while serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Iraq. In 2004, Marine Pfc. Cody Calavan, 19, was killed in a roadside bombing in Iraq’s Anbar Province. The Stanwood man was a Lake Stevens High School graduate. Both are memorialized with pictures in the hall. Robert Hughes, 71, is a Vietnam veteran and volunteer service officer at Post 92. He knows from his own struggles and from assisting others that war’s effects can be lasting. “You know what these guys are going through,” said Hughes. At Post 92, he guides veterans as they file benefits claims. That process can take a few months or last many years. “I came here four years ago for help,” said Hughes, an Air Force veteran who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and diabetes. Both are among diseases recognized by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs as being associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides used in the Vietnam War. Hughes was in Vietnam in 1966 and ’67. With his VA claim approved, he receives a 100 percent disability benefit. Today, he works mostly with other Vietnam veterans. A helper at Post 92 for several years, last year Hughes was officially trained as a service officer. He works
with Leslie O’Bannon, another volunteer veteran service officer whose husband served in the military. “We average about 460 active claims. Every month we see about 170 people,” he said.
Lewis, the post chaplain, has officiated at veterans’ funerals. Post 92 has a color guard and joins in Memorial Day commemorations. And every year, hundreds of veterans are helped with claims.
After Vietnam, Hughes went to college and worked in California for a probation department and later in computer science. “I had a rough time, but I didn’t associate it with Vietnam,” he said. “They never told us when we left the service what benefits are out there.”
“It’s good camaraderie,” said Seegert, the post commander. Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@herald net.com.
HOW TO HELP Stanwood American Legion Post No. 92 has launched a “Replace the Beam” fundraising project. A wooden support beam in the 1939 building, formerly East Stanwood City Hall, is rotting. About $90,000 is needed for replacement and renovations. The American Legion is a 501(c)(19) tax-exempt veterans organization. “Replace the Beam” donations may be sent to: Post #92 Treasurer, Renovation Project, P.O. Box 323, Stanwood, WA 98292.
He finds satisfaction helping other veterans. Some are now entering senior living facilities. Even after a veteran has died, a claim effort can continue and a widow may be helped. “Some guys just want to give up,” Hughes said. “We try to convince them not to.” The building is a survivor, too. According to the Stanwood Area Historical Society, the towns of Stanwood and East Stanwood consolidated in 1960. Two years later, the City Hall building was sold to the American Legion for $10,500. A picture of the post’s original namesake, World War I soldier Frank Hancock, is on display inside. The Stanwood farmer was killed in France on Sept. 26, 1918, less than two months before the war ended.
Post No. 92 has veterans service officers to help with benefits claims. It hosts prime-rib dinners, bingo and other social opportunities for veterans. It’s located at 26921 88th Ave. NW in Stanwood. Information: www.stanwoodlegion.org
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HUNDREDS OF INVENTORY OF
0% Interest Up to 72 Months PRICES & PAYMENTS
IN 15 MINUTES OR LESS
Serving Anacortes Since 1965 Serving and Supporting our Active Duty and Retired Military Members and their Families.
Service is what we do for ALL of our customers
Sales Department open 7 days a week!
Best Financing Available!
1 2016 CY sales. 2$1,000 Ford Credit Bonus Cash requires Ford Credit financing. Not all buyers will qualify for Ford Credit financing. 0% APR for 72 months at $13.89 per month per $1,000 financed regardless of down payment. Not available on Ford Raptor, Super Duty, Fiesta, Focus RS, Mustang Shelby GT350R/GT350R and Ford GT. For all offers, take new retail delivery from dealer stock by 03/31/18. See dealer qualifications and complete details. F-150 shown without standard antenna.
New 2018 Ford F-150 XLT Stock #32616T VIN: 1FTEW1EP8JKD23069
Service/Parts Department hours: Monday - Friday - 7am to 6pm Saturdays 8am to 4pm by Appointment Fast Lube Department - 9am to 5pm
www.frontierfordusa.com in Beautiful Anacortes
(360) 293-3105 (800) 896-5267
March 30, 2018 edition of the Whidbey Crosswind