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

Tell America Chapter 169, Lake County, FL-2012 Update

by Tom J. Thiel, President, KWVA of Lake County (FL) Inc., Chapter 169.

An article in the March-April 2011 issue of Graybeards, pp. 44-46, tells in some detail the first two years of our Chapter’s Tell America program.

This article will show you where we have grown with the program, mainly with photographs from our recent TA activities in various Lake County, FL, schools.

Tell America, as defined by the KWVA Association, is telling people, especially young people, “The Where, When and Why of the Korean War.” We add “The So What” too.

We have made contact with high schools through the ROTC programs in that school. We have also gone to a middle school and to several private schools, with students from mid -level on up.

One of the major improvements we have made has been the addition of exhibits and visual aids to our program. These, especially the helmets and bayonets, intrigue students.

Korean War and Service Veterans of Lake County FL Chapter 169 Dwightt Brown ExhibitsChapter 1st VP, Dwight Brown (at left in the photo), who has been the primary accumulator of most of our exhibit materials, discusses his collection with students from Eustis High School.

Korean War and Service Veterans of Lake County FL Chapter 169 Dwight Brown Exhibits St. Paul Catholic Schools Leesburg Three St. Paul Catholic School, Leesburg, students looking really sharp in assorted headgear from Dwight Brown’s Tell America exhibits.

Korean War and Service Veterans of Lake County FL Chapter 169 Jack Reynolds Exhibit Eustis High SchoolsJack Reynolds pointing to items he has in his exhibit box at Eustis HS.

Another significant addition to our program has been through the contributions of our Gold Star Spouse member, Carol Becker.

Carol tells of her experiences as a very young bride, expecting word from her husband Bob Becker telling her he was coming home; after all it was after the signing of the cease-fire in August 1953. Instead, she tells of receiving a telegram, but it said “We regret to inform you ….” The schoolroom was deathly silent!

Korean War and Service Veterans of Lake County FL Chapter 169 Carol Becker at Mount Dora High SchoolGold Star Spouse member Carol Becker presenting her Korean War experiences to the students of the AF Jr. ROTC Program at Mount Dora High School. Claus Tiesman, another 169 TA team member is also shown in the photo.

Another addition to our TA Program is being contributed by Gloria Corbet, who retired from the military as a Colonel. Gloria is an Honorary Chapter 169 member, and her contribution uniquely addresses questions female students raise about a military career for them.

Korean War and Service Veterans of Lake County FL Chapter 169 Gloria Corbet at Eustis High SchoolChapter 169 Honorary Member Gloria Corbet with Sgt. Young of the Eustis High School AF Jr. ROTC Program. Gloria addresses questions raised by women regarding military careers.

Yet another addition to our program is a fold-out display panel, which I have prepared from photos of my time in Korea in 1951-52. This provides a very good means of illustrating a certain point in my presentation, such as Hill 633 near the center of the panel, or that I never slept in a building or off the ground in my total time in Korea.

Korean War and Service Veterans of Lake County FL Chapter 169 Photo Exhibit Panel Tom Thiel at Eustis High SchoolTom Thiel in front of his fold-out photo display panel with Eustis HS student.

We also use a Chapter-prepared tri-fold brochure to strengthen our message to students and to the public at large. We have distributed several thousand of this short two-page handout, both directly to students, and also extensively to Publix shoppers at our Tell America fund drives. Note: TA Fund Drives—yes we treat our fund drives as Tell America events!

Korean War and Service Veterans of Lake County FL Chapter 169 Tri-fold brochure Tom ThielTom Thiel at Mount Dora High SchoolTom Thiel talking with Shannon Bolton of the Mount Dora High School ROTC, who has a Chapter 169 tri-fold brochure in her hand. You may access the entire brochure by clicking HERE.

We always donate to the programs we visit. We have, for example, donated $500.00 each to the Leesburg, Mount Dora and Eustis AF Jr. ROTC programs to be used where it will be of the most benefit to the corps. We contribute a lesser amount to the middle schools we visit.

Korean War and Service Veterans of Lake County FL Chapter 169 Tri-fold brochure Tom Thiel presents check to Chief Dixon at Leesburg High School169 President Tom Thiel presenting a $500.00 check to Leesburg High School AF Jr. ROTC Director Chief Daniel Dixon.


All of our visits to High Schools, indeed all schools we visit, are all outstanding, and our Chapter’s Tell America team members truly enjoy participating.

But 2012 was our first time to Eustis High School, and AF Jr. ROTC program leader Col. Edward Cangelosi brought a new dimension to our presentation there—he invited us to present at four ROTC classes (the most we had done before was three), and more significantly, he invited a History Class to each of our presentations!

History students—they have been one of our goals for some time now.

That went very well; some of the above photos are from those sessions.

But, it did not stop there! The History, English, Video Production, and ROTC departments at Eustis High School invited us to provide veterans for their students to interview and video-record the interviews for special projects in each department. We provided veterans for seventeen of these interviews, the last of which took place on May 30, 2012.

We have not seen the full outcome of this effort; the final products of the project will not be completed until after school begins this fall. But everyone—students, staff, and the veterans—all came away really excited at their participation. We anxiously look forward to resuming the project next fall.  

Korean War and Service Veterans of Lake County FL Chapter 169 Tom Thiel being interviewed by Eustis High School students. High SchoolTom Thiel being interviewed by Eustis students (from left) John Cribbs, Melissa Arjona, Hayley Carroll, and Morgan Holley.


Korean War and Service Veterans of Lake County FL Chapter 169 Dick Pfahler being interviewed by Eustis High School students.Dick Pfahler being interviewed by Eustis student interviewer.

So, what does Tell America mean for the Chapter, and for KWVA? I cannot say there is a cause and effect, but bona fide Chapter membership is at an all-time high—87 members! And all members are also KWVA members too!

Tell America offers our members a way to communicate with youngsters 65 years younger than they are in a way that is genuine and welcome at both levels. It is another way our members can be active in the Chapter. And, I believe there is a direct correlation between activity levels, and membership!