NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS
75 YEARS LATER, THE STORY OF PAUL DENBO CELEBRATED PAGE 4
HAVING A VETâ€™S BACK 24/7 PAGE 8
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INSIDE THE ISSUE
MESSAGE FROM THE STATE COMMANDER PAGE 2
75 YEARS LATER, THE STORY OF THIS YOUNG AMERICAN PILOT PAUL DENBO CELEBRATED PAGE 4
VFW IN THE NEWS PAGE 6
HAVING A VET’S BACK 24/7 PAGE 8
VFWCA WORKING FOR YOU PAGE 16
SOCIAL MEDIA CORNER PAGE 18
THE CALIFORNIA VETERAN IS THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES, DEPARTMENT OF CALIFORNIA It is an online magazine published four times a year to keep our members informed about important news affecting the VFW and veterans. Click here to Subscribe to our Mailing List to Receive Quarterly Issues of the California Veteran Magazine!
MESSAGE FROM THE STATE COMMANDER
VFWCA.ORG Starting in 1919 and originally celebrated as Armistice Day, Veterans Day began as a way to memorialize the end of WWI and to commemorate the veterans who served in it. One hundred years later, it is now a day to commend and honor the service of all U.S. veterans. Many people from many generations have held the title of “veteran,” from all backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and ages. No matter where we came from, we all have one thing in common: a commitment to serve our country.
STATE COMMANDER Michael Kuznik
Veterans Day is an opportunity to thank each and every person who took the oath to serve, and remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice. So while you and your family enjoy a day off, do not forget the real reason you are able to relax. Take a moment to stop and thank a veteran, or contact your local veterans organization to learn about ways you could make a difference in veterans’ lives on Veterans Day and throughout the year. Michael Kuznik Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of California State Commander
VETERANS DAY IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO THANK EACH AND EVERY PERSON WHO TOOK THE OATH TO SERVE, AND REMEMBER THOSE THAT MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE. – Michael Kuznik, State Commander
75 Years Later, The Story of This Young American Pilot Paul Denbo Celebrated In September 2019, as part of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation, a watch belonging to an American pilot, Paul Denbo, was officially handed over to his niece who lives in California.
He will make a total of 43 outings: 30 with a P-38 nicknamed 'TALENT SCOUT' and 13 outings in a P-51 MUSTANG FIGHTER. On Saturday, August 12, 1944, two missions are planned for the 79th Flighter Squadron from base 367, RAF Kings Cliffe in Northamptonshire (GB). In this crew, a young pilot, Paul.
Paul was born into family of 5 children (3 boys and 2 girls). He lost his dad, Fred, at the age of 8 and his mother, Mary, raised the children alone during the depression of the 30s.
Response German anti-aircraft guns and Paul’s P 51 D Mustang 44-13620MC-H is hit. The report mentions that the plane is on fire and crashed 2 miles southwest of Chimay.
Paul had a fiancée who was in the “US Army Women’s Corps” and had planned to get married on his return. Paul received his wings on December 3, 1943 at Chandler Field in Arizona and left for the mainland on April 30, 1944. He was part of the 8th AIR FORCE, 79th FIGHTING SQUADRON.
BAUDART Men, Farmers pulled Paul from flaming plane. The father and son BAUDART go first to the scene of the crash at a place called "reverse mill.” Despite the intense heat from the fire and ammunition explosions, they managed to extract the dead pilot’s body and move it away from the furnace. The next morning, the body of the American pilot was loaded into a German truck. The procession of vehicles left the “Fond de l’eau” at Pesches and a German officer paid the honors as the convoy passed. He crossed the village at the moment when the parishioners were leaving Sunday Mass. Paul will be buried in the Jusaine cemetery near Florennes on August 16th (Tomb 142).
Paul Denbo front of his P-38
WINTER 2019 · VFWCA.ORG
(left) Steve Snyder and Paul Denbo's niece, Debra Denbo Bishop (top) Paul Denbo's watch (right) Paul Denbo's final resting place at the US military cemetery Neuville en Condroz
After the liberation, his body will be transferred to the US military cemetery Neuville en Condroz where he now rests with 5,246 other soldiers (65% of the air force).
It was first a bullet of .50, then exploded cartridges witnesses of the explosion. They were now close to the place. Then, as if to crown their research, it was the discovery of a watch.
A few days after the tragedy, the carpenter of the village Clement DARDENNE, took the initiative to hang on a tree near the place of the crash, a wooden cross, built by him.
Was it related to the crash of the P 51 D? After searching the internet, messages on forums in the United States, the first contact with the Paul’s niece was establishing in January 2018.
The war is over ... ... but the story of the pilot remains a mystery for a resident of Pesches ...
Nicolas would finally be able to find out who this young man was, who had fallen on the battlefield a few hundred meters from his home.
This story of the pilot who fell a few hundred meters from the house of Roger Nicolas will particularly mark his adolescence. Roger grew up with this story and remained curious all his life … “Where did he fall exactly, who was this pilot? What was his story? Did he have family ?”
About thirty American citizens (children and grandchildren of the crew of the B17) traveled this September to Belgium for the commemoration of the 75th of liberation (Cendron, first Belgian village released, as well as the first 12 GIs fell on the Belgian soil (Lt Cook Museum).
For more than 40 years, Nicolas will undertake research on the fallen planes in the region and especially the 4 fallen in his village. Only one however remained unknown ... until the end of 2016.
Steve Snyder, author of the book “Shot Down” is a fan of American military history and more particularly of the US Air Force. Steve collected the watch personally to hand it over to Paul’s niece, Debra Denbo Bishop.
With the encouragement and the effective help of a lover of terrestrial research, on an afternoon of October 2016, after hours of walking to crisscross the ground, their tenacity was rewarded.
VFW IN THE NEWS
VFW RIDERS MOJAVE CROSS REDEDICATION RIDE by Randy Brenneman, President, California State VFW Riders & Mick Thomas, President, VFW Riders, Post 9375
October 11th and 12th five VFW chapters from California gathered in Primm Nevada to meet, and participate in the Memorial Cross Rededication on the Mojave Preserve. This ride was coordinated by California City Post 9375 VFW Riders. This storied cross was erected in 1934 and was originally a World War I Memorial, but as time has gone on the memorial has come to represent all veterans of all wars and conflicts faced by American servicemen. The Mojave Cross, as it has come to be known, and the land it rests on were gifted to the VFW in order to keep it protected, and it is being cared for by Arizona Post 404. On the first day the riders from Hesperia Post 2924, Ridgecrest Ship 4084, Temecula Valley Post 4089 and Hawaiian Gardens Post 7243 met up with Post 9375 Riders from California City. There were several pick-up points along the way, including Kramer Junction and Peggy Sue’s Restaurant in Yermo, where the riders stopped for food and fuel. After filling up their stomachs and gas tanks, the five groups rode to State Line and met up with the VFW riders from Arizona Post 404. That evening
all the riders got together for an enjoyable night of socializing and fellowship. The following morning, all of the groups met for a safety briefing and the rode to the Mojave Cross for the Annual Rededication of the Cross Ceremony, which included a flag and rifle salute, followed by a beautifully haunting rendition of Taps. After the Rededication, riders relaxed in the cool desert afternoon for lunch and more fellowship, before heading to their various destinations. The organizers from the California City VFW Riders would like to thank all of the comrades and auxiliary who participated, and would especially like to thank Johnette Gibson for her contacting us about this annual event, and all the hard work she and her team at Arizona Post 404 have done to make it the success it is.
The entire event was a perfect opportunity for the members of the various rider groups to meet, socialize, and remember fallen comrades. This is an annual event that occurs every Columbus Day weekend for members of the VFW Riders Groups, and if you’re interested in participating, please contact your Regional VFW Rider Representative, or the VFW Riders at California City.
If you’re interested in learning more about the California VFW Riders, or about how to form a Rider Chapter, contact us at: CaVFWRiders@gmail.com
WINTER 2019 · VFWCA.ORG
VA KEEPS HEART CARE LOCAL WITH TELECARDIOLOGY Veteran drives 30 miles rather than 300 thanks to expanding telehealth program by Jim Hoehn, Public Relations Officers, Milwaukee VA Medical Center’s Office of Public Affairs
PHOTO BY BENJAMIN SLANE
To get cardiac care in person, 79-yearold Navy Veteran Jerry Roberts would have to drive about 300 miles from his home in Mercer, Wis., to the Milwaukee VA Medical Center. Instead, he travels about 30 miles to a VA clinic in Ironwood, Mich. There, a doctor in Milwaukee examines him remotely via the VA telecardiology program. “I think it’s great that they came up with that,” Roberts said. “Otherwise, it’s a long, long ways away. I’d recommend it to anybody.”
Dr. Nicole Lohr of Milwaukee VA uses telecardiology to work remotely with a nurse to examine Jerry Roberts from 300 miles away.
The video-teleconferencing system connects a patient and nurse at a remote location with a doctor at the other end.
that’s hooked up to the computer that then transmits breath sounds, heart sounds. You can do a fairly decent physical exam.”
“Basically, I get an email from the nurse at whatever site, and I open up the software,” said Dr. Nicole Lohr, a Milwaukee VA cardiologist. “I put these headphones on and the nurse on the other end has a stethoscope
“Keeping everything local”
“For some people who have made a decision to live in very remote areas, they’re still allowed an opportunity that their choice of location isn’t going to hurt them physically, that they will get a good doctor and they will have access to health care,” Lohr said.
The Milwaukee VA is expanding its reach as the VA telecardiology hub for a region that includes Wisconsin, northern Michigan and northern Illinois.
Lohr observed that Veterans who take advantage of the telecardiology option enjoy the experience.
PHOTO BY BENJAMIN SLANE
“I crack the same jokes whether I’m in the office or not. So, detachment through technology is not really a barrier.”
Remote technology allows VA doctors to make house calls.
Lohr said that in a sense, telecardiology lets the doctor make house calls once again. “We’re basically saying that where the doctor came to your house in the past, it’s now cool to go back to that kind of thinking. It’s personal, but in a different way. It’s using technology to get back to keeping everything local, and I just find that appealing.”
Having a Vet’s Back 24/7 CALIFORNIA POST STARTS SERVICE DOG TRAINING FOR LOCAL VETERANS
“A SERVICE DOG REPLACES THE FEELING OF HAVING A SQUAD OR A PLATOON THAT IS WATCHING A VETERAN’S BACK.”
A Sacramento VFW Post is aiming to help its members by providing free service dog training for those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). VFW Post 8358’s service dog program started in April 2018. The Post program has trained a total of seven dogs as of this past April.
– Bruce Riecke, VFW Post 8358 member
VFW Post 8358 member Bruce Riecke, the director of the program, said to qualify for the program, a person must be a VFW member who has a service-connected rating for PTSD or a service canine recommendation letter from a mental health care provider. “I’ve been satisfied with the results,” Riecke said. “We just have a lot of good people with the program.”
Riecke said he believes dogs are instrumental in helping veterans with PTSD, whether it be from combat or sexual assault. “A service dog replaces the feeling of having a squad or a platoon that is watching a veteran’s back,” Riecke said. “A family can’t do that on a 24/7 basis.” Riecke said that the service canine program is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the training is free to eligible veterans. “From the beginning, I’ve made sure money doesn’t get in the way of a dog getting to a veteran,” Riecke said. “We don’t want dollars to be a restriction to help veterans.”
Riecke said he hopes the program expands to other VFW Posts across the country. He said the program was designed to be shared with others Posts that are interested in starting a service dog program. Members interested in starting a program at a Post can email Riecke at email@example.com. “The whole point of this is getting this whole concept established around the country to keep veterans from hurting themselves,” Riecke said. “I hope if a program like this is implemented across the country, it could affect the suicide rate.”
This article was featured in the May/ June 2019 issue of VFW Checkpoint. If you're a Post, District or Department Commander and aren't receiving the Checkpoint e-newsletter, please contact the VFW magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VA CLAIMS & SEPARATION BENEFITS www.vfw.org As the largest organization of combat veterans, we understand the frustrations that can arise when transitioning out of the military or filing a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The claims process can be confusing and one that service members and veterans shouldn't try to navigate alone. That's why the VFW's National Veterans Service (NVS) was established to help all veterans, service members and their families.
applying current law, pertinent legislation, regulations and medical histories. As skilled professionals, we assist in filing for disability compensation, rehabilitation and education programs, pension and death benefits, and employment and training programs. Furthermore, we won’t hesitate to request hearings before the VA and the Board of Veterans Appeals to present oral arguments when needed.
NVS consists of a nationwide network of VA accredited service officers and pre-discharge representatives who are experts in dealing with the VA and are the key to your success. Our cadre of highly-trained and professional advocates help veterans cut through bureaucratic red tape. VA reports veterans represented by the VFW have recouped more than $9 billion in earned benefits, including $1.4 billion in new claims in 2019 alone.
VFW Service Officers are with America’s veterans every step of the way once they're ready to file a claim. This is a service the VFW is proud to offer — free of charge — to anyone seeking assistance with the claims process.
VFW Service Officers are trained experts, helping veterans develop their case with ease by reviewing and
Learn more about Veterans Affairs benefits and what to expect after you file a claim. PRE-DISCHARGE
In 2001, through a cooperative initiative with the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the VFW PreDischarge program was established.
DON’T MISS AN ISSUE! SIGN UP NOW TO RECEIVE THE CALIFORNIA VETERAN DIRECTLY TO YOUR EMAIL ACCOUNT! Click the link below to subscribe to the digital distribution list of The California Veteran, and to receive news updates from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of California.
https://www.vfwca.org/in-the-news/ ca-veteran-magazine This list will not be sold, shared, or utilized for any purpose other than to send you the latest publications of The California Veteran and news updates directly from State Headquarters!
This program ensures separating and retiring active-duty military personnel receive assistance in obtaining their VA entitlements and benefits upon discharge. VFW Pre-Discharge representatives guide military personnel through the veterans claims process and conduct physical examinations prior to their separation from active-duty. They are also ready to answer questions about education and medical benefits, as well as VA home loans. Our pre-discharge offices are located on or near major military installations across the country. If you are within 180 days of discharge, you can contact a VFW Pre-Discharge representative to get the process underway. Here's an easy checklist of what you should bring to your appointment and more information on what to expect at a compensation and pension exam. Contact a VFW Pre-Discharge Representative near you.
WINTER 2019 · VFWCA.ORG
WHAT EXACTLY ARE BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS? www.vfw.org You may recognize the term – but do you have a complete understanding of what a beneficiary designation is and how it would apply to you? Anytime you start a new job, you fill out the necessary paperwork for your retirement account and life insurance policy. This includes listing the beneficiary, or beneficiaries, of each. But, you may not have a full understanding of what that means. Learn more about this important choice. Q. What is a beneficiary designation? A. Beneficiaries are the people and/or organization(s) that you designate to receive an asset (such as a retirement plan or life insurance policy) following your passing. Q. Does my will take care of distributing my retirement plan assets and life insurance? A. No. These assets pass outside of your will. To make sure they go to the right people and places, be sure to let your beneficiaries know that you’ve named them.
Q. Can I change my beneficiaries? A. Yes. You can update your beneficiaries at any time. Simply request a change-of-beneficiary form from your plan administrator (or download a copy from their website). Q. How often should I review my beneficiaries? A. You should review your beneficiaries regularly. However, life events such as marriage, the birth of a child or the loss of a loved one should trigger an additional review. TAKE THE NEXT STEP
If you have decided to support the VFW by naming us as a beneficiary of your retirement plan assets or life insurance, please let us know by contacting Chrissy Mason at email@example.com or 816.968.1119. It would be our honor to thank you and ensure your gift is used as you intend.
CONGRATULATIONS PAULA JANSEN! on receiving her VFW All American Cap and Pin
The VFW offers more free information about estate planning – we’re happy to help! To request a free Personal Estate Planning Kit, contact the VFW Planned Giving Office at 816.968.1119, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit vfw.org/plannedgiving.
Capt. Monessa Catuncan THE FIRST FILIPINA F-16 FIGHTER PILOT OF THE ELITE U.S. AIR FORCES
PHOTO BY HAMPTON STRAMLER, U.S. AIR NATIONAL GUARD
(above) Top Gun Pilot Capt. Monessa Catuncan. (left) An F-16 Fighting Falcon pulls away from a KC-135 Stratotanker after aerial refueling, October 7, 2017.
“What men do, women also can.” This notion is common when talking about women empowerment. Well, another Filipina woman has proved this right again. Thirty-three-year-old Capt. Monessa Catuncan, a former resident in Pasay City and Olongapo City in the Philippines was recently recognized by the Asian Journal for her phenomenal performance of flying United States’ F-16 Fighter Plane. The said plane was described to be a “state-of-the-art” aircraft by Manila Wire. Capt. Catuncan was the first Filipina to earn the privilege and honor to fly the said fighter plane commonly called “Viper”. The Viper was not just an ordinary plane as it has been used in many air-combats and has been one of US’ superb planes that fought during wars. It has been considered as a high-performance weapon for the US and allied nations for it was able to transcend other known aircraft. Its weapons can even still be precisely used even under bad weather conditions. The Viper was carrying combat missions in Iraq as a representative from the United States Air Force (USAF). The fact that the plane was too complicated meant that only excellent and equipped pilots are allowed to handle it; Capt. Catuncan, being one. Before getting where she is now, Capt. Catuncan also dreamed and made her way to success just like anybody else. While still in her second year in at Mesquite High School, Texas, Catuncan was inspired to become an astronaut by the movie – Armageddon. At that very moment, her father, Ramon Catuncan explained to her how much hard work and perseverance she has to exert before realizing her young ambition.
WINTER 2019 · VFWCA.ORG
PHOTO BY AIRMAN 1ST CLASS KENNA JACKSON
Amazingly, young Monessa was not disheartened. Instead, she did well with her studies and graduated Valedictorian in her High School in 2000. Even before she graduated, Monessa already captured the attention of the Coast Guard and was invited to Connecticut and be a helicopter pilot in 1999. She grabbed the opportunity and went to Connecticut. However, after two weeks, she realized she was not contented with a flying helicopter. Instead, she wanted to fly a real plane. Taking her next step, Monessa enrolled herself in US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and studied aeronautical engineering. She took the Undergraduate Pilot Training, excelled, and eventually graduated. Determined to reach her ambition, Monessa topped as a student-pilot in her class.
Captain Monessa Catuncan, the first Filipina USAF female fighter pilot, transported to her F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft with other pilots from the 35th Fighter Wing.
As a kickoff of her ‘real’ pilot career in 2014, Monessa was sent to Iraq with the 34th Fighter Squadron as a USAF 2nd Lieutenant. Just this year, she was promoted as a Captain and was assigned in Utah’s Hill Air Force Base.
Monessa’s flying career started to bloom then. She was offered to fly either a fighter or a bomber aircraft. Monessa did not just settle there. She went to Moody Air Force, Laughlin Air Force Base and Sheppard Air Force Base where she learned all the theories and developed her skills as a pilot.
After all Capt. Catuncan’s hard work and perseverance, she finally earned not only the F-16 Falcon but also the honor of serving her countrymen. She also has brought honor to the Filipino race and flag as a Filipina who made it through a tough way, and an inspiration to every person who has a big dream...
Although learning all the techniques of controlling a fighter plane required a really tough training, Monessa still conquered the stressful situations she had been through. Reaping her hard work's fruits, Monessa finally got what she wanted – to fly F-16 Falcon, among the numerous aircrafts offered to her. She went to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona to practice flying the F-16 or Viper, as commonly known, and of course, graduated with flying colors. What makes her more amazing was that she was the only woman in her group and the only Filipino to pass the course.
The US Air Force is an elite organization, to handle and piloting an F-16 fighter plane is a prized possession. Monessa, through her perseverance and hard work, has earned not only to fly the F-16 but also the pride and honor of defending the United States and its allies as well as making the Filipinos proud. As the first Filipina descent to fly the F-16, Capt. Catuncan “also carries the Philippine flag in her heart and the pride of the country it represents and the people in it.”
MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS REASONS TO JOIN THE VFW:
• Camaraderie and fellowship that comes with being part of the nation’s largest group of combat veterans
• Save money through discounts on numerous insurance and health care plans
• Opportunity to socialize and perform service with veterans who served on the front line and in support roles
• Cut vacation expenses through discounts on travel and other services
• Receive support during the tough times that can follow military service
• Enjoy knowing other veterans, military personnel and their families
• Access assistance for securing VA and State benefits you are entitled to as a veteran
• Help to generate patriotism and troop support through VFW programs
• Utilize resources to help you learn about and secure jobs
• Relax and enjoy life knowing that the VFW has your back on many fronts
ABOUT THE VFW: The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is the nation's largest and oldest major war veterans organization. Founded in 1899, the congressionally-chartered VFW is comprised entirely of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. With more than 1.6 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in 6,200 Posts worldwide, the nonprofit veterans service organization is proud to proclaim “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS” than the VFW, which is dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs. For more information or to join, visit our website at www.vfw.org. MEDIA CONTACT: Joe Davis, VFW Director of Communications, Publications and Public Affairs, JDavis@vfw.org
WINTER 2019 · VFWCA.ORG
USAA Partnership VETERANS APPRECIATION NFL MEET & GREET On Tuesday, November 5 – American Legion and VFW Members had the distinct opportunity to meet former San Francisco 49ers players for autographs and chalk talk.
VFWCA WORKING FOR YOU OUR CALIFORNIA LEGISLATIVE TEAM IN ACTION
VFW 91ST DIVISION/CHINATOWN POST 4618 SAN FRANCISCO MONTHLY DINNER MEETING NOVEMBER 1, 2019 16
Happy Holidays FROM THE VFW DEPARTMENT OF CALIFORNIA
SOCIAL MEDIA CORNER
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WINTER 2019 Â· VFWCA.ORG
VETERAN WINTER 2019
THE CALIFORNIA VETERAN 9136 Elk Grove Blvd., #100 Elk Grove, CA 95624
The Winter 2019 edition of The California Veteran Magazine, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of California.