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VFW Elects New National Commander

Mathew M. “Fritz” Mihelcic, of Sparta, Illinois, was installed as the VFW’s 113th Commander-in-Chief at the organization’s 122nd national convention in Kansas City, Missouri. Mihelcic served in the U.S. Air Force Air National Guard from 1989 to 1999 with the 131st Tactical Fighter Wing. He earned his VFW eligibility when he was activated for federal service in Desert Shield and Desert Storm as a security policeman. “It matters not what war or conflict you were in, what branch, or where you were deployed. If you served and are eligible we want you to be part of us. Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

Take Action Now on VFW-Supported Toxic Exposure Bills

In June, the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs introduced comprehensive legislation on toxic exposure addressing the VFW’s top legislative priority. The House bill is the Honoring our PACT Act and the Senate bill is the COST of War Act. If you haven’t already done so, we encourage all veterans, family members, friends, and supporters to take action now. Spread the word so that as many people as possible will contact their senators and representatives to support these important pieces of legislation.

VA Begins Processing New Presumptive Conditions for Toxic Exposures

VA has announced that starting Aug. 2, 2021, it began processing disability claims for asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis based on presumed particulate matter exposures during military service in Southwest Asia and other areas. The Southwest Asia theater of operations refers to Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, and the airspace above these locations. Additionally, this includes veterans who served in Southwest Asia beginning Aug. 2, 1990, to the present, or Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, or Djibouti beginning Sept. 19, 2001, to the present. These conditions must have manifested within 10 years of a qualifying period of military service. Veterans and survivors should contact a certified service officer.

Major Medical Facility Bill Signed into Law

President Biden signed into law the Major Medical Facility Authorization Act of 2021. This change will authorize VA to carry out specific major medical facilities projects and also increase the amount of money that can be spent on each project. The VFW applauds the passage of this legislation and calls on Congress and the Administration to continue rigorous oversight of VA’s infrastructure needs. This new law will be a step in the right direction.

POW/MIA Update

Army Pvt. Charles Andrews, 25, of Rochester, New York, was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division. His unit was engaged in battle with German forces near Brandenburg, Germany, in the Hürtgen Forest. He will be buried on Aug. 28, 2021, in his hometown.

Navy Fireman 2nd Class William K. Shafer, 20, of Alhambra, California, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. He will be buried on Oct. 14, 2021, in Marana, Arizona.

Army Cpl. Dale W. Wright, 19, of Flint, Michigan, was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. Interment services are pending.

Marine Corps Sgt. Fred Farris, 19, of Hillsboro, Texas, was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Interment services are pending.

Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Harold W. Hayden, 19, of Norwood, Ohio, was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Interment services are pending.

Marine Corps Pfc. Royal L. Waltz, 20, of Cambria, California, was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 18th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Interment services are pending.

Army Sgt. William E. Cavender, 20, of Leslie, Michigan, was a member of Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. Interment services are pending.

Army Staff Sgt. Gerald R. Helms, 29, was assigned to Company E, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. In 1944, he was reported missing in action near Katerbosch, Netherlands. Interment services are pending.

Army Pvt. Emmet W. Schwartz, 24, was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division. His unit was part of an effort to capture Obermauch, Germany, near the town of Hürtgen. His body was unable to be recovered. Interment services are pending.

Marine Corps Pfc. Glenn F. White, 19, was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Interment services are pending.

Army Air Forces Tech. Sgt. Frank A. Norris, 23, of Quinlan, Texas, was a pilot assigned to the 345th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 9th Air Force. On Aug. 1, 1943, the B-24 Liberator aircraft on which Norris was serving crashed as a result of enemy anti-aircraft fire during Operation Tidal Wave. Interment services are pending.

Army Air Forces Capt. Nando A. Cavalieri, 24, was assigned to 324th Bombardment Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force in the European Theater. On Feb. 3, 1945, the B-17G Flying Fortress bomber on which he was serving was flying a mission over Berlin. Interment services are pending.

Navy Seaman 1st Class Biacio Casola, 26, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Interment services are pending.

Till next week, praying for all service members.

 

– Charles Castelluccio

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