RockVets E-Newsletter: June 2018 Edition
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RockVets Newsletter

June 2018              
Volume 10
Issue 6


Vietnam Memories Linger

As noted last month, we are re-running past articles that Jerry has written.  Jerry's editorials are always worth reading again....this one is from June of 2016:

It was the 24th of October, 1969.  We were on a Search and Clear Operation which, a few months earlier, would have been called a Search and Destroy Mission.  However, the grown-ups further up the chain of Command for some reason felt that search and destroy sounded too violent -- so it became Search and Clear.  We did exactly the same thing.  Who knew that the politically correct police had its roots back then?

I was an Infantry Buck Sgt. - 3rd Platoon, Company D, 3rd of the 21st, 196th Light Infantry Brigade working off LZ Center.   Why it was called Center wasn’t hard to figure out.  It was right between LZ East and LZ West.  That was home although we spent very little time there.  Most of our time was spent in what we called Indian country wandering the Central Highlands – although I guess we couldn’t call it that today. We’d have to call it Indigenous Personnel Country.  At 22 I was the second oldest in my company.

The Highlands from a distance looked like the Catskills, only the vegetation was a bit different.  They called this Triple Canopy Jungle.  It was so dense that at noon on a sunny day the floor of the jungle would seem like night time.  The temperature and humidity both were around 100 and to add to the fun of this sleep away camp, we’d have to carry anywhere between 80 and 100 pounds on our back – 8 pounds of which was water that was far more valuable than a number of other things we carried, especially the food.

In those days it was C-Rats or C-Rations some of which you literally couldn’t eat.  There was one can that contained ham and lima beans.  We would pray that we were resupplied before we got to the bottom of our rations and had to eat that!  Many of these meals had nicknames but in polite company they can’t be printed.  This stuff would truly gag a maggot! 

To give you an idea of the toll that takes, when I got to Vietnam I was 6’2” and weighed 185 pounds and was in reasonably good shape.  When I got home I weighed 122 Pounds.  To be fair, part of that weight loss was my right leg.  But still even considering that, it’s a fair amount of weight to drop in a relatively short time.  I mean how much could a leg just below the knee weigh?  15-20 pounds?  

Anyway, it happened on Hill 370.  A couple of clicks off of the LZ.  I remember it was very loud.  The loudest thing I ever heard.  There was a huge fireball and I was thrown...I’m guessing 10 yards... landing on my back and I knew it wasn’t good to be lying out in the open.  My 12-gauge was gone.  According to the Geneva Convention we weren’t supposed to have scatter shot weapons.  But they issued Model 37 Ithaca pumps.  The Army also gave the Duper gun (M79) guy a canister round, which made the 79 a super-sized shotgun.  But then again, I never saw a referee out there to enforce any of these rules.  A buddy seemed to be comforted by the fact that the Geneva convention said they could shoot you but they couldn’t eat you.

So I picked up my right arm and it fell off mid shaft – between the wrist and the elbow.  What they call a double-compound fracture – 2 bones sticking out of each half of a bloody hunk of meat.  And yes, your bones are white.  Using my left arm, which had also been wounded, I carefully placed the broken right arm across my chest and lifted up my left leg to try and see if I could push my way back to cover.  That leg was riddled with shrapnel...the inside of which looked like hamburger meat.  

I carefully placed it down and lifted up my right leg…it was gone.  That was kind of hard to wrap your head around.  Even though I didn’t feel pain – at least the kind of pain that you think would accompany what I was seeing, there was a terrific burning sensation.  Since my limbs weren’t working too well, I tried to prop myself up on my left elbow to see if I could see anyone.  However, leaning forward caused a bloody head wound to run into my eyes, which blinded me.  Just then I felt someone grab me.  Not being able to see I didn’t know if it was the enemy or one of my own guys.  Of all the things that were going on, that was simply the most terrifying.  I was totally helpless.  Thank God it was our medic - God bless him - without regard for himself.  He started working on me.  He shot me up with morphine for the pain, which you think would help.  However, it had kind of an opposite and frightening effect because as the drug began to take effect I didn’t know if it was the drug entering my body or life leaving it.

A lot of good men died in those Highlands.  In a funny way I think I was born there because the guy that went to that War didn’t come home.  I believe that was the case with a lot of us.  I don’t know how much time passed but my buddies eventually got me onto a poncho.  I remember every time they moved, it hurt but it had to be done.  Then I saw the greatest sight in the world.  The belly of that dust off which, close to 20 years later became the logo symbol of our Vietnam Veterans group.  But it just brought more pain.  The down draft from the rotor blades was so strong that it began opening the wounds that had started to heal.  
My buddies literally threw me onto the floor of that Huey, which was awash with blood of the other wounded.  Then we were out of there and on our way to Hawk Hill.  

It was someone else’s war now.  At Hawk Hill I was placed on a real stretcher.  In turn, the stretcher was placed on a pair of saw horses.  A guy came towards me with one of those bent surgical scissors.  I thought he was coming to help me.  Instead he cut away the right saddlebag pocket and took my AO map that was wrapped in a plastic ANP RC-25 battery bag.  Then I was pissed.  It seemed my maps were more important than I was.  I lay there for what seemed like a long time.  

Oh, did I tell you that my wife was 8-months pregnant?  

Then I was put onto a cleaner Huey and off to the 95th EVAC in DaNang.  I refused to go to sleep for fear that I would never wake up.  I came off the chopper in DaNang and who was waiting for me but the Chaplain.  Somehow last rites may help the soul, but doesn’t do much for the morale.  Then into the OR, which was ice cold.  It was air conditioned.  I hadn’t felt air conditioning in forever.  In there they finally knocked me out. 

The next week or so was mostly a blur.  I went from there to the 106th in Yokota, Japan.  In and out of surgery, when I came to on the ward, Bonanza the old western was on TV, but in Japanese – and seeing Hoss Cartwright in a high pitched Japanese voice was hard to believe.  Then I was sure I was dead.  

Actually I was beginning to feel better.  I could tell because I was getting pissed again.  Here I was damn near killed and nobody seemed to give a damn.  Everybody else was just doing their day-to-day routine. 
It was just another day at the office or hospital.  There were no parades, no bands, nothing.

Then I’m moving out of Japan after God knows how many more surgeries.  By now the calendar has turned over and it’s November and we’re heading into Anchorage, Alaska at night.  We were lining the walls of the plane hanging in litters.  When we landed it was snowing.  They dropped the tail gate of the plane.  Mind you, all we were wearing were light pj’s that were meant for tropical weather.  The blood we had left was thin from tropics.  So why were we opening this huge door?  Simple.  So the donut dollies could bring us hot chocolate, which by the time it got to us was ice cold.  But I guess it’s the thought that counts.

We were into the second week of November and into the inky blackness over the Canadian landscape into the U.S.  I think we landed once or twice – maybe to refuel or to drop off casualties at hospitals along the way.  My feeling is they kept us pretty well drugged up.  It was easier to deal with us because we were all starting to feel a little better.  That and there were no in-flight movies to keep us busy, so drugs were the answer.  But then again it was the 60’s.  

By the time light had begun to break, we were coming down approaching Maguire Air Force Base in NJ, which sits side by side with Fort Dix.  By the time we landed and got loaded off the plane and onto ambulances, it was full daylight.  I remember being frightened by the speed of the ambulance.  It seemed like it was going 100 mph or more.  It wasn’t, but to me it seemed dangerously fast.  The reason I was told was that for months we had moved either on foot or in choppers and in the choppers we got used to going relatively quickly, but it wasn’t the same as being on the ground – you didn’t see things pass so quickly.  

There at Walson Army Hospital at Fort Dix, my family came to visit except for my wife who was now in her 9th month and wiser souls felt that she had been through enough recently and would not do well with a 2-hour trip.  The rest of the family showed up and lied and lied and lied about how good I looked.  Later my brother told me I looked like someone who had just come out of Auschwitz.  

Before I left for Vietnam, I had taken my father out, at my mother’s request, to get him a decent pair of shoes.  I bought him a nice pair of wing tips.  My mother was pleased.  The problem was my mother wasn’t going to wear the shoes.  My father hated them.  My father was born in Ireland and came to this country in 1929, just in time for the Stock Market Crash.  He always had a great sense of timing.  

Anyway, that night despite his hatred of them, he wore the ‘bloody shoes.’  Never at a loss for a stupid thing to say I said, “My God, what you have to do to get this man to wear a pair of shoes.” I thought I was being funny.  He left the room crying. Then my Uncle tried to paper it over and change the tone by saying, “Well, at least you made it back in one piece.”  Not to be outdone I said, “Well, two anyway.”  And he was out of the room.  

The next morning, they loaded me onto the cleanest Huey I had ever seen.  My stretcher was high and going from left to right on the bird behind the pilot and co-pilot’s head so I could see over their shoulders.  

We took off nose down as Hueys have a tendency to do and headed west towards Valley Forge Army General Hospital, Pennsylvania.  I knew that because as soon as we cleared the tree, the co-pilot took out a Texaco road map that was marked for Valley Forge.  This was the Army I knew and loved.  As the chopper banked coming into Valley Forge Hospital, I saw men in colonial uniforms - in nice straight lines, setting up by the side of a vintage cannon.  Well, I figured it’s about time – about time I got some kind of reception to fit what I had been through.  Not really.  I had lost track of what day it was.  It turned out we just happened to be landing at 11:00 a.m. on November 11th.  You got it – it wasn’t about me at all.  It was dumb old Veterans Day – and I just landed in the middle of their ceremony.  But what was cool was the 4 guys that carried my litter off the chopper were all amputees, and I thought, "Maybe this could work."    
I tell you this because there are 58,000 who can’t – and someone should speak for them.    Jerry....

Remembering Our Friend and Veteran of the Year  

Rockland's Watchfires this year were dedicated to the memory of the guy who started the Watchfires - Jerry Donnellan.   Charlie Mauschardt, President of the local Nam Knights Chapter, sent me this from the Clausland Mountain Watchfire tribute to Jerry...


The words to this sacred poem "A Hero's Welcome" by Robert Longley, are as follows:

Time to come home dear brother
Your tour of duty through
You’ve given as much as anyone
Could be expected to do

Just a few steps further
The smoke will start to clear
Others here will guide you
You have no need of fear

You have not failed your brothers
You clearly gave it all
And through your selfless actions
Others will hear the call

So take your place of honor
Among those who have gone before
And know you will be remembered
For now and evermore

Jerry Donnellan Memorial Motorcycle Run 

There will be a motorcycle rally on June 2nd, 2018. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. for The Jerry Donnellan Memorial Run -  at Hudson Valley Harley Davidson, Route 304 in Nanuet, New York. Kickstands up at 10:30 a.m. sharp!  $25.00 per rider / $10.00 per passenger -- includes bagels, coffee, and tea in the morning;  and an After Party.  After-Party only - $15.00 wristband. The After Party starts at 1:00 p.m. and includes a BBQ and Music by Blue Sky, Raffle prizes, and a 50/50.  The run is sponsored by the Spring Valley and Pearl River Rotary and will benefit RockVets.  For further information, please contact Christine Bailey at 914-906-6373.

Please contact Doreen Buonadonna at 845-825-0926 or by email:
Or Chris Bailey at 914-906-6373 or email:                                        

VVA # 333 Annual Pig Roast - June 2nd, 2018

On Saturday, June 2nd, 2018, Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter #333 will hold its Annual Pig Roast starting at noon and going until 6:00 p.m.  It will be held at the Kearsing-Edwards American Legion Post 1600, 20 Station Road in Pomona, New York 10970.  Children under 5 years of age -- free; $25.00 per person before June 1st.  At the door on the day of the Pig Roast - $30.00 per person.  There will be great food and beverages, music, and a fun-filled day for the whole family.  All are invited.  Make checks payable to VVA - #333 and mail to: VVA #333, Post Office Box 243, New City, New York 10956...Attention: Roger Dupont.  

100 Year Old Flag Made for WW I Soldiers 

100-year-old US flag made for WWI soldiers returns home
May 01, 2018 -  A 100-year-old flag used in the funeral of U.S. troops on a small Scottish island during World War I is making it back to where it originated, as part of a remembrance of the Great War.  Short video:

Flag Day - June 14th

The first celebration of the U.S. Flag's birthday was held in 1877 on the 100th anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777. However, it is believed that the first annual recognition of the flag's birthday dates back to 1885 when school teacher, BJ Cigrand, first organized a group of Wisconsin school children to observe June 14 - the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes as the Flag's Birthday. Cigrand, now known as the 'Father of Flag Day,' continued to publically advocate the observance of June 14 as the flag's 'birthday', or 'Flag Day' for years.  To read more:

Gulf War Illness Study 

Note from the folks at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York City:
My name is Sarah and I am a study coordinator working with Dr. Benjamin Natelson at Mount Sinai Beth Israel located in Manhattan. We recently got in touch with Senator Schumer’s office and they provided us with a list of NY veteran related groups. We thought you might be able to help us identify Gulf War veterans for two DoD funded studies on Gulf War Illness we are doing.  The first Brain Mechanisms and Biomarkers uses methods like brain MRIs to understand the cause of GWI and develop markers to aide in its diagnosis.  The second Vagus Nerve Stimulation: A Non-Invasive Treatment to Improve the health of Gulf Veterans with Gulf War Illness uses a novel, non-drug method of stimulating a nerve in the neck to improve the widespread pain seen by some Gulf veterans with GWI.  The device has recently been approved by the FDA for treating a certain kind of headache so we will also determine if the treatment improves this symptom. 

We would greatly appreciate your help in notifying Gulf veterans about this study.  We are looking both for veterans with GWI and Gulf veterans who are in good health and can be used as a comparator group for those with the illness.

If any Gulf War veterans are interested in participating in this study, or would like further information, please contact Sarah Khan via e-mail: or here:  

Sarah Khan, Study Coordinator
Mount Sinai Beth Israel
120 East, 16th Street
New York, NY 10003
T: 212-844-8618

Free Dental Care for Veterans on June 9th, 2018 

From Annie Williams [] 

Thousands of veterans will receive free dental care on Saturday, June 9th, when dentists and their teams from nearly 450 Aspen Dental-branded practices in 37 states open their doors for Aspen Dental’s National Day of Service.
Like millions of other Americans, veterans can struggle to find oral health care when they need it. That’s why Aspen Dental’s Healthy Mouth Movement, a community-giving initiative launched in 2014, is focusing its efforts on helping veterans get the dental care they need.
Interested veterans should call 1-844-AspenHMM (1-844-277-3646) to find a participating practice in their community and schedule an appointment in advance – space is limited and appointments are filling up fast!
Participating Practices in New York
Albany, NY
Blasdell, NY (Hamburg)
Canandaigua, NY
Cheektowaga, NY
Horseheads, NY
Latham, NY
Newburgh, NY
Niagara Falls, NY
Oneonta, NY
Plattsburgh, NY
Poughkeepsie, NY
Rochester, NY (Irondequoit)
Saratoga Springs, NY
Schenectady, NY (Niskayuna)
Tonawanda, NY
Utica, NY
Vestal, NY
Watertown, NY

65th Anniversary Commemoration of Cease-Fire 

This will commemorate the 65th Anniversary of the Cease-Fire of the Korean War on July 27th, 2018.
The National Purple Heart Hall of Fame is organizing a special event to commemorate the 65th Anniversary of the Cease-Fire of the Korean War on July 27th, 1953.  The event will be held on Saturday, July 28th, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. at the National Purple Heart Hall of Fame, 374 Temple Hill Road in New Windsor, New York 12553.  Their website is:

If you served in the Korean War, they want to hear from you.  They are interested in hearing about your experiences, as well as your thoughts on the war, to share with the public as part of this event.  For further information or to participate in this project, please contact Pete Bedrossian, Program Director at the Purple Heart Hall of Fame.  Pete's telephone number is: 845-561-1765, extension 28.

The National Purple Heart Hall of Fame is open from Tuesday - Saturday (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) and on Sunday (12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m.). They would like to hear stories of any veteran who is a recipient of the Purple Heart and you can add photos or information on veterans even if they have passed away. 

If you visit the National Purple Heart Hall of Fame, one of the veterans whose story you can listen to is Jerry Donnellan's...he recorded it years ago and he is listed under Gerald Donnellan. 

Employment Opportunities

Here is a link to current job openings available in Rockland County

And this link will give you information on Veterans' Credits:

New York City Civil Service Jobs, Tests, and Results as listed in The Chief:

MTA Metro-North Railroad has the following opportunities:
Manager, Engineering Applications Management - The Manager, Engineering Applications Management (EAM) is responsible for the security, management, planning, research, development, training, support and implementation of Engineering systems and applications created exclusively for and required by the Engineering and Construction Department (E&C).  These systems and timely adoption of new technology has a major impact on the success of E&C's significantly expanded Capital, Operating and Special Programs. The Manager, EAM is responsible for the safe and secure passage of all Over-Dimensional/Overweight vehicles including the issuance of permits for such passage

Senior Safety Engineer - Safety Engineer directs and administers the safety program within E&C and is responsible for data compliance in the Capital and Operating (Major Maintenance, Capitalized Assets, etc) projects. Responsible for assuring compliance with contract and regulatory safety requirements and the implementation contractor H&S plans on multi-million dollar engineering projects at MTA B&T facilities. Oversees and/or manages the duties of independent safety monitor consultant, and monitors project budget, schedule, personnel requirements and technical activities to assure quality work.

Associate Engineer - The Associate Engineer Program is an MTA Metro-North Railroad initiative to acquire and train the future of our railroad. This program offers recent college graduates an opportunity to develop their management and technical skills through a number of challenging assignments and projects.  This eighteen (18) month training program includes on-the-job, technical and professional development training, with a requirement of an additional year in the role to apply one's learning.

To apply for these jobs or to see others with the MTA, please go to the MTA Employment Portal at:

Local Veterans Organization

For your information, here are the addresses for some of our local veterans' organizations:
  • Rockland County Marine Corps League, 20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970  
  • Military Order of the Purple Heart, 20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970
  • Vietnam Veterans of America, P.O. Box 243, New City, New York 10956
  • Nam Knights, 1 Western Highway, Tappan, New York 10983
  • Korean War Veterans, P.O. Box 304, New City, New York 10956
  • R.C. Military Order of the Purple Heart, 20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970
  • Jewish War Veterans, P.O. Box 38, New City, New York 10956
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars, P.O. Box 921, New City, New York 10956
  • Air Force Association, Chapter 251, 207 Treetop Circle, Nanuet, New York 10954
  • Rockland County American Legion, 86 South Reld Drive, Pearl River, New York 10965
Combat Vet ID Cards Available
Combat Veteran ID Cards are now available.  If you are a combat veteran, you can get this card at the County Clerk's Office which is located at 1 South Main Street, Suite 100, New City, New York 10956.  To apply for the Combat Veteran ID Card, or the F.A.V.O.R. card for all veterans, if you don't already have one, bring your DD214 to the County Clerk's Office.  They'll take your photo and make up a card for you. For further information, contact the Rockland County Clerk's Office at (845) 638-5076.

This new Combat Veteran ID Card offers all of the same benefits as the F.A.V.O.R. (Find and Assist Veterans of Record) card, which includes almost 1000 discounts to Rockland's veterans, but this new CVID card has specific advantages. The CVID card is co-sponsored by the Rockland County Police Benevolent Association and will be recognized by our local law enforcement agencies. So if you ever get pulled over, along with your license, registration, and insurance card, show the police officer your Combat Vet ID card so he knows you're an in-country vet.
Useful Telephone Numbers for Veterans

Rockland County Veterans Service Agency


Rockland County Sheriff’s Office


Veterans Peer-to-Peer (Counseling)


People to People (Food)


Montrose VA Hospital


New City VA Clinic


Housing Unit


Rape Crisis Services (Main)


Rape Crisis Services (24/7)


Home Health Care


Good Samaritan Hospital Emergency


Nyack Hospital Emergency


Domestic Violence


Suicide Hotline


Mental Health Association of Rockland County


Mobile Mental Health


West Point (nearest military base)


New York National Guard (Orangeburg, NY)


Army Reserve (Orangeburg, NY)


Military Recruiter


Rockland County Housing Action Coalition


Alcoholics Anonymous


Emergency Shelter


Meals on Wheels


Here are useful links from Army Echoes June - September 2017 issue - check out page 22:

Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial and Monument

The Rockland County Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial and Monument will honor those from Rockland who served in those two theaters of war, whether in the Persian Gulf War, Operations Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, or Inherent Resolve in Iraq, or Operations Enduring Freedom or Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan - particularly those who gave their lives.
The Memorial and Monument will be located in Haverstraw Bay County Park near the Rockland County 9/11 Memorial. We will keep you posted as to dedication ceremony for the Memorial.
Chapter 120 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart is accepting tax-free donations in support of this memorial and monument and providing a structure through which to coordinate and arrange for its construction.  For further information, please call 845-371-7605 or visit our website at: 

Rockland County Marine Corps League Auxiliary

The Rockland County Marine Corps League Auxiliary continues its on-going campaign - Pet Rescue - to reunite our troops with pets they may have had to leave in Afghanistan. Cans and bottles (no glass bottles) that can be recycled for cash, may be brought to Kearsing Edwards American Legion Post 1600, 20 Station Road in Pomona, New York. They are collected by ARC Pet Rescue volunteers and recycled. Contributions for the Pet Rescue Project are also welcome! The funds pay for food and water to sustain pets on their journey home; their transportation is free. For more information contact Chairman Dale Fisher 845-304- 3595.

Rockland County Marine Corps League - MASH Unit

We regularly receive donations of handicap assistance equipment for disabled veterans from people who want to help.  Our donated equipment is available for free to military veterans and their families.  The items include the following:
  • Handicap-Accessible van
  • Motorized Wheelchairs
  • Manual Wheelchairs
  • Lifts
  • Walkers
  • Bath Chairs
  • Transfer Benches
  • Braces
  • Crutches
  • Canes 
If you have need of any of this equipment, contact the folks at the Rockland County Marine Corps League - 845-323-8774 or via e-mail:

RockVets Newsletter  

You can find information, useful links, and view our webpage at Previous copies of our newsletters are also available on our website at

The volunteers at New York Vets / RockVets will continue to publish the e-newsletter.  We welcome your thoughts, questions, and feedback.  Please pass this along to other veterans who can benefit from some of the information in the newsletters.

At the discretion of the editor, we'd be happy to add your upcoming events to our newsletter.  Please submit the details to us as soon as possible, but no later than the 25th of each month so we can get the information in the following issue. Send information to

RockVets website:

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