• Chuck and his wife Ann

  • President and Charlie heading to the East Room

  • Chuck and his son Mike

  • Chuck and his daughter Jeanna

  • Medal of Honor

  • East Room For The Medal of Honor Ceromony

Vietnam Veterans of America,
Charles S. Kettles Chapter 310
National Chapter of the Year - 1999 & 2007
Newsletter of the Year 2007, 09, 11, & 15
E-Newsletter of the Year 2017
Chapter member LTC. (Retired) Chuck Kettles receved the Medal of Honor - July 2016
President’s Message
Dave Draper


May will be the start of our busy season. We will have our Watch Fire, Memorial Day Program, and a possible parade. We will also be remembering VE Day on the 8th, Armed Forces Day on the 19th, and Memorial Day on the 28th.

Our Merchandising sales this past month was a little above average as our new Merchandising Team gets settled in. I hope you all will help out by volunteering for setup, takedown, and sales. If you can spend just a couple hours the Team would be most appreciative.

On the 17th of April Brewed Awakenings Café in Saline donated 20% of their day’s sales to our Chapter. They chose our Chapter in April as part of their monthly fundraising for non-profits. When Meni and I arrived there were Chapter members as well as members of the Veterans Honor Guard of Washtenaw County. There were also quite a few non-member guests there. Thanks to Al Merritt, Vance McCrumb, George Perrault, and Lloyd Lee for staying there the entire day. On top of the Café’s 20%, we also received $400.00 in donations in our donations box. Thanks to all of you who came out in support of this event, and especially to Kim Kaster, Brewed Awakenings owner, for her generosity. Brewed Awakenings Café is located at 7025 E Michigan Ave, Saline.

We held our 31st Annual Gary Lillie Recognition Dinner on the 21st of April. We had a great turnout with many VIPs who had RSVP’d. For the first time since I’ve been in charge of the event, we finally had a podium and microphone. It took Tim Driscoll, though, to find the elusive switch on the wall that turned on the sound system. The people in the back were finally able to hear everything. Anyway, the food was great again this year. We voted to cater the food again this year. Angel Food Catering was our choice to be our caterer. We had penne pasta with Italian marinara meatballs, focaccia rolls, and a garden salad. Ann Dempsey-Pereira purchased two cakes for dessert. One was a combination chocolate and yellow cake, and the other was a carrot cake (to die for!!). As I said earlier, we had many special guests. One was an Army Special Ops Veteran Sgt Seth Diegel and his wife Sasha. Seth was deployed to five combat areas during his tour of duty. Miss Michigan, Heather Kendrick also joined us and also helped us with calling out the raffle ticket numbers. Miss Washtenaw County, Patricia Sholtis, was very pleasant and spoke with many of the attendees and posed for pictures- as did Heather. Our all time favorite Ypsilanti Township Supervisor, Brenda Stumbo, made her appearance too. It is always a great night when she is able to join us for these events. Chief of Volunteer Services at the VA Medical Center, Beverly Conatser, was also there. Beverly has been an active participant at our events that we hold at the VA. She is always there to give guidance and help wherever needed. We had Kim Kaster and her husband Mike join us, as referenced earlier in this article, Kim owns the Brewed Awakenings Café. And our friends for many years, Mike and Shada Eadie joined us. As many of you know, Mike and Shada were responsible for preparing the food in previous years for this event.

Surprisingly to me, we had quite a few items for our raffle- both for the AVVA and the VVA. Thanks to all those who donated items and to Roy Hall for all the yard sales he attended to acquire many of the items. The AVVA is giving all their proceeds to Fisher House Michigan. As I understand it, AVVA was able to finish making their goal of $3000 on that night. Congratulations to Kathy Driscoll and her members. We had many winners for the raffle, and Sandy Martinez won our 50/50 drawing.

Our award winners were:

Berry Bourne for the John Thompson “Member of the Year”

George Perrault for the Jerry Sims “Always There” award

Jon Luker for the “Doc” Martinez President’s award

It was a poignant moment when Sandy surprised me by escorting Jon to the podium. You got to love her.

There are a lot of people to thank who helped make this event a success. Thanks to all those who sat on the Dinner Committee to help make the event the success that it was. Thanks also to all those who came out to help set up, and later clean up. Thanks to Roy Hall and Kathy Driscoll for putting together their respective raffles. Also, to Al Merritt and Tim Clarke for selling the tickets at the front door. To Jane and John Kinzinger for providing the Bose sound box to play the POW/MIA ceremony and later for the background music. To my wife, Meni, for being the photographer for the evening. And to Steve Hitte for helping the AVVA reach their $3000 goal with a sizeable donation.

On Sunday, April 29 many of our Chapter members joined Al Merritt at our Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Ypsilanti to clean up and rejuvenate the grounds. There was about a dozen volunteers who helped spread out new mulch around the trees and bushes. They also moved three bushes. The area where the bushes were removed them will eventually have an extended sidewalk to continue from the existing one to the street when the Ypsilanti Township installs a cut-in for parking spots along the roadway in front of the Memorial. It’s looking sharp out there.

This will be my last Newsletter article/ President’s Message as I am hanging up my Presidential hat. I will still be active with our Chapter, but I will also be becoming more active with other organizations that interest me. I hope to be spending more time with our grandchildren. I can’t tell you what a great honor, privilege, and learning experience these past two years have been. Your support has truly been appreciated. I hope you will continue that support for our new President Jon Luker along with the rest of the Officers and Board Members. Please remember that our Chapter is not just one person. It takes all of us to keep it going and be as active as it currently is. God bless and may we all survive our “Golden Years”.

Dave Draper
Air Force C-130 Loadmaster