Korean MemorialKorean War & Korea Defense Service Veterans, Lake Co. (FL), Chapter 169


 By Tom J Thiel, President, 2008-2012

January 2011

We began 2011 with 55 members. Chapter and Department Chaplain Harold Sievers swore-in the 2011 Chapter Officers team; President Tom Thiel, 1st VP Dwight Brown, 2nd VP Jack Reynolds, Treasurer Joe Grubler, Alt. Sec./Treas. Bill Shumaker, Secretary Charlie White, and Sergeant-at-Arms and Director Ted Jansen.

VP Reynolds continued his efforts contacting mobile home residential associations to try to arrange for us to come to their recreation centers, and over coffee and donuts tell them about the Chapter and KWVA.

A motion to purchase bricks to remember our members at the Veterans Memorial in the Villages failed largely because all our members have the opportunity to have their names engraved on the VMFP.

Eric Laasko, son of Olavi and Delores Laasko, died suddenly.

1st VP Dwight Brown proposed a fund raising event based on a drawing for two identical TV sets. He proposed 12 member teams to promote tickets at Publix Stores throughout our area; however, only a few teams were able to be formed.

Brown, Reynolds, White, Gruber, Shumaker, Becker, Canale and Gleason attended the DoF Council meeting, January 15, 2011, in Ocala. The Chapter made a $50.00 contribution to DoF for the 2011 Convention.

February 2011

February 3, 2011, saw the Chapter’s Tell America team again at St. Paul’s Catholic School on Sunshine Avenue, Leesburg. Members participating were: Tom Thiel, Dick Pfahler, Don Van Beck and Al Schuetz.  

And on February 9, our Tell America team spent from 9:00 a.m. to about 2:00 p.m. with three AFROTC classes from the Leesburg Yellow Jackets High School. Members participating were Don Van Beck, Al Schuetz, Charlie White, Harold Sievers, Tom Thiel and Dick Pfahler.

On Thursday, Feb. 10, Harry Olson sponsored a member recruiting meeting at the Activity Center, Holiday Travel Resort, Leesburg.

George Maxin became a new member, but overall membership was down.

On Feb. 15, 2011, construction began on the Veterans Memorial at Fountain Park, Leesburg; those attending the ceremony included: Don Lynch, Dick Pfahler, Gunther Noder, Don Van Beck, Bill Shumaker, Tom Thiel, Harold Sievers, and Harry Olson.

Bob Rock, one of our guests at our February meeting, and Tom Thiel were guests of Bob Peters’ “Salute” TV show on LakeFront TV, Channel 22, to be shown in March.

Our Guest Speaker was Fred Harrop, Manager, Veterans Services Department, Board of Sumter County Commissioners who gave an overview of benefits available to veterans. Mr. Harrop’s card has been replicated in the Scuttlebutt to today (2013); he invited anyone to call him no matter where they live in Central Florida.

Claus Tiesman presented Tom Thiel with the beautiful Eagle Cane by LakeWood Carvers on Thursday evening, February 17.

March 2011

Ted Jansen and Tom Thiel presented the Leesburg High AF JROTC program a check for $500. The award was named the John Yohn Award in recognition of our Past President, Director, Color Guard member and participant in The Villages’ Adopt-a-kid/Adopt-a-vet program, who passed away last fall. The Daily Commercial photographed the event and carried an article.

Bob Rock, mentioned in the February section, became a member, and we welcomed Carol Becker back to 169 from South Lake.

We donated $100 each to the Senior Center, the local Salvation Army and the Red Cross for the Japanese disaster.

Claus Tiesman and Don Lynch were appointed to Board of Directors, filling all BoD vacancies.

April 2011

The Chapter’s Tell America team members did its first ever program with Mount Dora AF Jr ROTC students on April 25; members participating were: Tom Thiel, Charlie White, Don Lynch, and Jack Reynolds.

Also on our Tell America effort, we awarded three students monetary awards for their essays, and also gave the school a small amount.

Raymond G. Royal and Donald Baron, both of Leesburg became members; Ray as a result of Harry Olson’s program, and Don from the VMFP event.

Our Annual Picnic at Hickory Point was a great success; 26 were in attendance, including guests Jim and Gloria Corbet, and Charlie First.

May 2011

On May 11, Jack Reynolds, Dick Pfahler, Charlie White and Tom Thiel, met with the middle and high school students of The First Academy for an excellent Tell America program.

On the evening of May 6, President Thiel represented the Chapter at the Awards Banquet of the Mount Dora High School Air Force Junior ROTC, where he presented a $500 financial aid to their program. Several Mount Dora cadets called and wrote thanking us for our support.

We welcomed Allan Stover’s membership.

We made a commitment to expand our Color Guard sufficiently to be able to cover more than one event at the same time.

Approved a motion that the bylaws be changed to: “place in a separate ledger at least one-half of all Chapter funds received (excluding all Association and Department dues, and any direct pass-through payments), which shall be used specifically to support the Chapter’s Primary Mission (to educate, to fund education, and to aid needy Chapter members and others); the remaining Chapter monies may be used to fund Chapter expenses, pay approved expenses to attend meetings and/or conferences,  contribute to general charities, and such similar items as may be provided for under our operating guidelines.”

On May 20 and 21, we held our second Tell America/Fund Drive at the new Mount Dora Publix at the corner of U.S. 441 and S.R. 44/Donnelly Street, Mount Dora; we took in $1,054.00. Bob Rock, Dick and Vi Pfahler, Claus Tiesman, Joe Lewis, Jack and Margie Reynolds, Joe Gruber, Al Dasilva, Bill Shumaker, Charlie White, Don Lynch, and Tom Thiel assisted.

Joe Gruber resigned as Chapter Treasurer; Bill Shumaker, was appointed to the position. Claus Tiesman was appointed as Asst Sec/Treas replacing Bill.

On May 25, Al Schuetz presented “My Story, an account of my experiences during the Korea War from letters mailed to my mother.”

In the May Scuttlebutt, Ted Morford, 169 Hon. Life Mbr. asked us to remember our MIA/POW brothers, and asked us to be much more cognizant of the 7,995 GI’s still lost in Korea.

June 2011

Dwight Brown showed us his growing collection of Korean War era items such as: the uniform he wore, including insignias and other apparel items, a Marine Corps footlocker, bayonets, canteens, mess kits, manuals, etc. He has obtained most of these items from eBay. And he has the original document written by a Carmelite Nun who had been captured by the North Koreans giving a first-hand accounting of the excruciating Tiger Death March.

We welcomed Jim Corbet as our 62nd Chapter 169 member.

July 2011

Harold Sievers with two of his Adopt-A-Kid, Adopt‑A-Vet students, Olivia Park and Carey Williams, appeared on the cover of Lake Magazine.

We welcomed Wally Jones (spouse Karrin) of the Villages who served with the 1st Cav Jan ’53 to Apr. ’54; and Bill Tench (spouse Rose) of Leesburg who served June 1950 to April 1952, as members.

Fred Harrop, Sumter County Veterans Services Office was our July guest speaker. He spoke on: “Veterans assigning a Power of Attorney  to represent them."

President Thiel appointed Joe Gruber as Director; he also appealed to members (or to your spouse) to accept Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Vacancy.

Appeal to members to sign the Association’s Code of Conduct pledge.

August 2011

The TV Drawings were held at the July meeting. Winning tickets were: Kenneth Ede, Mount Dora, and Gordy Talbot, Jr. of Otego, NY. Joyce Ede picked up her TV in front of Publix Mount Dora, and Gordon Talbot picked up the set won by his son, Gordy. We took in $1,320; total costs were $435 yielding a net benefit of $885. We thank everyone for their support, especially Dwight Brown and Joe Gruber.

We welcomed Bob Oakes of Fruitland Park as our 65th member at the August meeting. Bob served with the Army’s 25th Transport Army Aircraft Maintenance Company from 1952-54.

And we began reporting Income and Expenses in tabular format.

We expanded our Color Guard so that we may simultaneously schedule events throughout Lake County as well as at The Villages, where we serve for about ten events each year. This required adding a second set of chapter flags, including a new Chapter Flag, which Carol Becker so graciously hand-crafted for us.

September 2011

Identity Theft! At 10:00 p.m. on Sept. 27, President Thiel discovered via the Wells-Fargo website that our bank account had 12 counterfeit checks totaling $2,722.37 drawn on our account. The culprits printed checks with their name and First Union Bank; they added the Wells Fargo routing and our account numbers and were able to convince T J Max, Marshalls, Wal-Mart, Kmart and Party City to accept the checks. We closed the account on 9/28, with the balance of $3,912.90, which was used to open a new account on 9/29.

George A. Maxin, 77, of Dahlonega, GA and Mt. Dora, FL passed away September 22, 2011 with his loving family at his side. He joined Chapter 169 in March of this year.

We addressed whether to add M-1 Ceremonial weapons to our Color Guard capabilities. Dwight Brown extensively researched obtaining M-1 rifles, and found they are available free of charge on loan from the U.S. Army. He has also found a feasible means of storage at Amvets in Leesburg. After much deliberation, we decided that our age limitations outweighed the attraction of adding this to our ambience.

Eight 169 representatives attended the DoF Fall Council Meeting on Sept. 24 at the Plantation Golf Resort & Spa, Crystal River, the largest Chapter contingent in attendance.

Another member benefit was added; a permanent name badge.

We donated $500 to assist Austin Rumbley, the young Eagle Scout who obtained funds for the VMFP flagpole, to go to The Citadel under our scholarship program.

Russ Crittenden from the Hillcrest Memorial Garden, in Leesburg, made a presentation last Wednesday.

October 2011

Nine of us represented the Chapter at the services for George Maxin at Florida National: Harold Sievers, Charlie White, Art Canale, Clarence Slusher, Don Lynch, Claus Tiesman, Don Van Beck, Jim Corbet, and Tom Thiel.

We were most happy to welcome Bob Peters as an Honorary Chapter 169 member with all the privileges of Associate Membership. Bob, a Vietnam era veteran, has been a good friend of Chapter 169 through his invitations for our members to appear on his Salute program honoring Lake area veterans on LakeTV, and also to appear with him on local radio. Bob also was instrumental in our becoming involved with Tell America at Carver School. Welcome Bob, to full participation in Chapter 169’s many programs!

We were very pleased to welcome Joseph La Liberte and Darryl Watson as new Chapter members. Joe served in Korea in 1953 with Battery C of the 987th FA BN and resides in Leesburg and joined from a mailing of direct appeal; Darryl served in Korea in 1964-65 with the 600 Combat Engineers; he lives in Continental Country Club, Wildwood. Don Lynch convinced him to become a KWVA member.

Don Van Beck received the coveted 2011 Leesburg Partnership’s Community Service Award for his tireless work to make the memorial located near Fountain Lake directly across from City Hall a reality.

November 2011

Veterans Day 2011—where were you? Members of your Chapter were at several places on Veterans Day weekend. Art Canale, Gunther Noder, Bill Simunek and Charlie White form the 169 Color Guard at the Veterans Day Ceremony at The Villages’ Veterans Memorial. And, Bill Shumaker and Claus Tiesman represented us on Veterans Day by laying a wreath at the Veterans Day Ceremony at Eustis’ Ferrin Park. Then on Saturday evening, Nov. 12, Charlie White, Bill Simunek, Don Lynch and Bill Shumaker represented the Chapter at the Rotary USO fund-raising event at the Leesburg Airport. They presented the colors at this event where 1/3 of the Rotary’s profits went to the Veterans Memorial at Fountain Park.

Tell America Fund Drives: Nov 11-12 –Mount Dora Publix. Special thanks to Vi and Dick Pfahler, Bill Tench, Gene LaJuness and Marty Rowland, Rod Layer, Joe Gruber, Jack and Marjorie Reynolds, Claus Tiesman, Harvey Strausbaugh and Tom Thiel for participating. $1,567.00 total. This may be a new high for a single event. Then on Nov 18-19–Publix at 10601 US Highway 441 Ste D. Special thanks to Jack and Marjorie Reynolds, Bill Shumaker and Louise Keith, Jimmy and Gloria Corbet, Joe La Liberte, Carol Becker, Wally Jones, Joe Lewis, Al Dasilva, Claus Tiesman and Tom Thiel. $582.00 total.

Membership reached 67! Don Lynch continues to bring us new members; this time George Thompsen and Frank Markle, both also from Centennial where Don lives. And on Nov. 21, Raymond Babcock left an application at the Sr. Center. Ray was a Marine who made the Inchon landing in Sept. 1950. Ray and his wife Norma Jean live on Oak Drive in Leesburg, 34788, in the winter and in Tiffin, OH in the summer. Ray saw about us in the paper

On November 2, from 8:15 - 9:00 a.m., Pfahler, Tiesman, Brown, Thiel, and Reynolds conducted our first ever Tell America program at Liberty Christian Academy in Tavares. Jack Reynolds arranged for the session. After the TA program was completed, Dwight, Dick and Vi and Tom visited the home of veteran Bob Langstaff, and his wife Marie. Bob suffers from Alzheimer’s, and Marie had contacted us about our visiting with him.

On November 9, our Tell America team visited Carver Middle School in Leesburg. Members attending were: Charlie White, Tom Thiel, Wally Jones, Carol Becker, Dick Pfahler; Bob Rock and Harold Sievers. This was our third Tell America program at Carver. We did this in association with AmVets Post 2006, whose schools program leader, Bob Peters, invited the Chapter to participate originally. (Bob Peters and Bob Rock were there as member of AmVets).

We presented a coffee pot and staff microwave to Leesburg Senior Center on 11/21/2011.

Treasurer Shumaker presented a $1,000 chapter check to Don Van Beck, for the Veterans Memorial at Fountain Park.

December 2011

A total of 72 attended this year’s Christmas Luncheon at the beautiful Mission Inn at Howey-in-the-Hills; 68 were members, spouses and guests. The other four were entertainers. Note that Chapter 169 held its own Christmas event this year.

Charlie White receives 2011 Eddie Ko Member of the Year award “For sustained outstanding service to Chapter 169 as Vice President, Secretary, Color Guard Member and Leader, Tell America team member, and Fund Drive Leader.”

Membership 70!!!! We reached our goal! Herb and Alma Goebel, Bob and Janice Moore, and George and Donna Sullivan. Herb and Alma saw Don Lynch’s notice about the Perkins Breakfast in the Shopper News, and came for breakfast. Herb already was an Association member, so it was easy to add him to our rolls. They live in on Dogwood Cr., Wildwood, and Herb served as a BAR man in the 25 ID/27th Wolfhound Regiment in 1953-54. And we welcomed Herb and Alma at the Christmas affair. Bob Moore is a friend of Thiel’s friend John Bianchi, and was at the Senior Center at our October meeting and remained for both the Board and the Member meeting. Bob and Janice live on North Shore Dr., Leesburg. Bob served in Korea with the FA in 1951-52, and is becoming a Life Member. While at the Perkins event, I went to the car to pick up a couple of items from my car, and a gentleman came up and  said “hey, I’m a Korean Vet!” So, that is how I met George Sullivan. I gave him a booklet, and he called back to say he was joining. George and Donna live on Eastwood Lane in Leesburg . George served  with the 2nd Inf. Div., from 1950-53, has Bronze and  Silver stars and has six Purple Hearts! (George didn’t actually sign up—TJT). We actually met our goal of 70 members by year end, and became the largest Florida Chapter!

Don Lynch, Charlie White and Bill Shumaker visited with dementia patient, Major Edward Browne at Arbor Village in Wildwood on Dec. 7.

We held our Tell America planning meeting in the Leesburg Public Library on Dec. 13; members attending were: White, Dick and Vi Pfahler, Van Beck, Reynolds, Jones, Tiesman, Brown, Lynch, Gruber and Thiel. Sievers and Schuetz are also members.

Boosters total for 2011 was $1,627.