• 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
LTC Charles S. Kettles (ret) Passed Away On January 21, 2019.  Rest In Peace My Friend, Rest In Peace.......
President’s Message
Jon Luker

What a way to start a new year!  Our name sake, Charles S. Kettles, passed away.  I would devote this President’s message to him, but there is nothing I could say that hasn’t been said several times by better writers than me.  Although we will miss the man, we will be seeing his impact on us for years to come.  In that way, he remains with us.

But we just came through a year where we lost more members than ever before.  So, his loss just adds to our burden.  We lost Pete Belaire, David Foerster, Henry Koski, John Kuclo, Willie Lee, and Roeser Waldmar.  I met Willie Lee once.  Pete Belaire is the only one I got to know.  He has not only been very active with our Chapter but with the Marine Corps League as well.  His loss also brings back the loss of his good friend and ours, Doc Martinez.  Now the three amigos are down to Marv Rivers.  This is not fun.

Add to that being set upon by a record breaking winter cold blast that has killed people, closed businesses and schools, and increased the need for services at a time when the federal government decided it had nothing better to do than shutdown federal services.  Anything you may have wanted to do this month was a fair amount more difficult than it needed to be.  So difficult that in spite of its motto “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," the US Postal Service shutdown mail service in 10 states for a time.

If there is a plus, it comes from veterans recognizing the obligation that comes from being the one who survived: to carry on for those who no longer can.  Just as each death is a loss we mourn, it is also an event that forces us to make a bigger difference as we go forward.  We pick up where they left off.  We continue the mission.  And we celebrate victories for them and their loved ones as well as for ourselves.

I don’t think a tough start to this year needs to be any kind of omen or anything.  The sun is shining.  We have gotten stuff done in spite of everything.  We have endured the cold and the sorrow.  Even those of us who are dealing with COPD and other issues made worse by the cold still keep moving.  Veterans, and their loved ones have come through much more than this.

Let’s be smart about this.  Remember that an important part of staying operational is staying healthy.  Drink lots of water.  Keep active.  Sleep when you can.  Do something besides just sit there when you can’t.  Always take the next step, even if you are not sure you can make the whole trip.  It is in the Bible somewhere that if we were to see the path our life would take, we probably would not have the courage to even begin.  But if we look back, we can see that our path has covered some amazing places and shows that we can do much more than we may have ever given ourselves credit for.  That may be why the path is revealed to us only one or two steps at a time.  We aren’t done until there are no more steps to take.

Charlie knew that one day, his helicopter would no longer leave the earth.  But he did his preflight check and he put his hand on the cyclic and collective every day.  Like him, we need to keep moving in the directions we are being guided with the certainty that even when we can’t see the end of the path, there is a next step as long as we are breathing.

And, like Charlie, we need to remember that none of this is done by us alone.  In addition to whatever spiritual guidance and support we get, humans are inherently social creatures.  We have a tendency to both rely upon others and to be relied upon by others, especially within the community of veterans.  And here, I include AVVA and the families and the other loved ones who share the burden of a military servicemember’s service, past or present.

Thank God we are in this together and can distribute the burden and share the benefits of our mutual adventure.

We are looking forward to many things this year, including the April election and picnic, the May Recognition Dinner, Watchfire, the Memorial Observation and more.  Planning is underway for a new capital improvement at the Memorial as well.

Speaking of the April election, our election committee may be contacting you to inquire about your willingness and ability to serve in one of the officer or board positions.  If asked, please give the idea considerable thought.  Nobody does any of those jobs without copious help from others in the Chapter.  As Chief says, “The Team, The Team, The Team!”

I look forward to working with you and being with you as we continue to grow our membership and pursue our mission.

De Oppresso Liber

(By the way, that is the motto of the US Army Special Forces.  For those who may not know, Special Forces Soldiers are the ones who wear the Green Beret.  What that motto means to us is, “to free the oppressed.”)

Jon Luke