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Korean War Veterans Association, Inc.

Incorporated June 14, 1985... Chartered by Congress June 30, 2008

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Update... Official Message Board



Tom Stevens

Update is the official message board of Tom Stevens, National President of the Korean War Veterans Association. Messages that appear here are posted to keep the membership of the KWVA informed about the latest news concerning the organization and the president's itinerary. These messages are dated and posted from top to bottom, the most recent messages at the top.

         


President's Messages...

 

February 28, 2017

Most of you by now have received, “the little yellow card” with the words on the front, “IMPORTANT MEMBER VERIFICATION NOW DUE.” It asks you to call an 800 number to verify the accuracy of the data currently listed on file. I assure you that these cards are legitimate.

We have partnered with Publishing Concepts Incorporated (PCI) to produce the new members’ directory. This action was approved by our Board of Directors at the Annual Membership meeting in October, 2016. I called the 800#, updated my information, and talked with a polite lady who recorded the information I gave her, after which she tried to take my order for a directory as well as a couple of miscellaneous items with the KWVA logo. I could have purchased all or none, but she was polite and didn’t pursue the sales effort beyond what was reasonable. In sales terms, I would refer to her effort as a “soft sell approach.”

I realize that some chapters have members who are members of the chapter, but not (for a plethora of reasons) members of the National KWVA Association. We strongly discourage this, but realize it exists. Chapter meeting “attenders” who refuse to be members to the National KWVA will not receive cards, as they are not in the National database. This is unfortunate, but a situation brought on by the individual, not the KWVA.

Anyone who is so inclined can rectify this by submitting their KWVA application (found on p. 71) to National KWVA with the nominal annual dues of $25. If you haven’t done so, I strongly urge all Korean War and Defense veterans to become active members of National if they are not currently members. By doing so you will receive The Graybeards and help insure the continuance of the organization into the future.

Those who have allowed their memberships to lapse into “inactive” status due to non-payment of dues will also receive cards. This will be their opportunity to renew their memberships, become active again, pay their dues, and purchase a directory if they choose to.

My next topic, which is important, is the recently approved law (PL114-230) signed by President Obama authorizing the “Wall of Remembrance.” This addition to the existing Korean War Memorial will list the names of all those who were killed, missing in action, or prisoners of war. However, an inherent part of the bill is that it did not provide for any federal funding.

A proviso of the bill was that it would be paid for entirely via private donations. In response to the funding challenge, your National KWVA Board recently authorized a donation of $25,000 toward the cost of the Wall of Remembrance (see pp. 12 & 13, Nov/Dec 2016 issue of The Graybeards). The authorization of the Wall represents the culmination on the part of numerous individuals of literally years of unrelenting effort.

The Chairman, Mr. William E. Weber, of the Korean War Veterans Foundation, Inc. (non-profit), has worked long and diligently to realize this dream. But, the daunting challenge remains of raising approximately $25 million. When the Wall of Remembrance is completed it will be the result of the generosity of Americans, many of whom were born after the signing of the Armistice on July 27, 1953.

Veterans of the Korean War are fading fast. Hopefully, the Wall of Remembrance can be completed while some of us are still around to visit it and honor those comrades who did not return home. Please consider an individual and/or chapter contribution. Go to www.koreanwarveteransmemorial. org to see how you can become a part of this effort that is so close to the hearts of all Americans, especially to those families whose loved one did not return from Korea.

Executive Order No. 9981, issued July 28, 1948 by President Truman, stated: “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” The order also established the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services (Fahy Committee). Why do I call this to your attention? Because, February, has been declared, “Black Military History Month.” (See our related cover photo.)

Although readers won’t see this until late February, I felt the event should be recognized, as it will be an annual occasion. This is a month-long multimedia project honoring the unique contributions and sacrifices of African-Americans in U.S. military history. This project will tell of amazing stories full of pride and emotion. It will be a celebration of service, a unique sacrifice by a group of people who have given their all, selflessly and often without reward, but with hope.

For viewing videos and related features, please access the Military Times on the internet. For more information, contact MSgt Rob Wilkins, USAF, Ret., rwilkins@historynet.com.

It was recently brought to my attention that a sculpture depicting a battle scene from the Korean War was in the basement of one of our former KWVA presidents, still in the shipping crate, from a donor in California. With the able assistance of Bill Burns, KWVA Judge Advocate, I asked that it be shipped to the Truman Presidential Library, Independence, MO. They had gladly accepted the donation of the sculpture, agreeing to pay the cost of shipping.

The Truman Library not only was glad to receive the sculpture, but it hosted a reception and unveiling ceremony on January 26, 2017 at 10 a.m. Two KWVA chapters, Missouri CID 43 (KC Mo #2) and Kansas CID #181 attended, as did several interested invited guests. The invitation is shown below. We’ll take pictures of the event and submit them for a subsequent issue of the Graybeards. I thought you should know.

“I (Jim Meyer) give this sculpture to my father-in-law, Nick Mekis, a WWII and Korean War veteran. The sculpture stands about 17” high and about 36” long and 24”wide. Nick passed away in 2009. I now have it and would like to donate it to a museum.”

As you can see from the invitation below, Jim’s wish is coming true. The Truman Presidential Library is, in my opinion, the ideal place for this handsome sculpture. It is in a place now where it will be seen by thousands each year.

I’d also like to remind you that if you have a humorous story that occurred during your tour of duty in or around Korea, now is your chance to tell the world. Just contact Ray Amelio, 724 316-0575, or email him at ramelio845@aol.com. Ray’s company is planning to publish a book, “The Lighter Side of War,” that will be made up of those humorous stories.

KWVA election time is here again. In this issue you will see and read about the candidates who have stepped up and said, “Yes, I’ll serve KWVA.” I congratulate all the candidates for their willingness to make this organization rise to bigger and better things. Congratulations!

Everyone receiving this magazine has an obligation to cast their vote. The ball is in your court. Please take a few minutes to acquaint yourself with the candidates (pgs. 12-17), discuss them with your comrades, and cast your ballots. I refer you to the “Why Vote” article in this issue.

As they say in current lingo, JUST DO IT!

Tom Stevens, President
Korean War Veterans Association, Inc. (KWVA/US)


 

December 27, 2016

The October KWVA Board meeting was held in Las Vegas, NV on October 11th, followed by our Members meeting the next day. Both were productive. Several decisions were made that will move our organization forward and better position us for the future.

A major consideration pertaining to our constantly declining membership is to decide on a means to utilize electronic platforms in attempting to reach younger generations of potential members. One proposal was presented that involved a revamp of the KWVA.org web page, reaching out to those who frequently use social media as a means of communicating and the use of external databases to reach potential members. It all sounded great, but the price tag was more than we had expected, considering that results could not be guaranteed.

Membership Chairman David Clark will request a “slimmed down” version of that proposal which would be within possibility, considering our financial resources. He is also going to reach out to other vendors of similar services that we can consider. You can read about this subject in more detail in the minutes of the Board meeting in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue.

Another presentation to the Board and the Membership was made by Ray Amelio, concerning a coffee table book his company, “The Story Line,” will be publishing, with input from veterans of the Korean War. It will be entitled “The Lighter Side of War.”

He hopes to compile stories of a humorous nature that were experienced by veterans of the war. He is asking KWVA members to get in touch with him with their stories. He can be reached at 724-316-0575 or ramelio845@aol.com. Please communicate with Ray directly with your remembrances of your service during or after the Korean War. The successful publication of the book holds the possibility of financial benefit to the KWVA via corporate sponsorships.

I don’t want to bore you with a lot of Board meeting detail, but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that within the next six months to a year there will be available to KWVA members a Directory of your Korean War Veteran comrades. It has been three years since the last Directory was published. The Board voted to move forward with a new and updated edition.

As has been past practice, you will receive a telephone contact from the PCI Company regarding your interest in purchasing this Directory. The cost is projected to be $99, plus tax. At the same time a variety of miscellaneous products with the KWVA logo will be made available.

I am not encouraging or discouraging your purchase of a Directory or any other product PCI may be selling. I just want to make you aware that such a thing is happening and that you will be contacted to make a purchase. Do not feel any obligation to agree to purchase. The last Directory gave our income a positive boost, and we hope this one will have a similar positive effect.

Veterans Day 2016 is now in our rear vision mirror. There were many great commemoration events across this great nation. While wearing an item of apparel indicating that you are a veteran, how many times has someone come up to you and said, “Thank you for your service”? It is absolutely heartwarming whenever that happens.

I arrived at a car wash the other day while wearing a KWVA cap. The proprietor stepped from behind the window counter, thanked me for my service, and said the wash today was free. He said he isn’t a veteran, but he has five sons who are currently serving our country. He nearly brought tears to my eyes. Yes, the legacy of a free nation and the legacy of what we did to keep South Korea free lives on, thanks to all veterans who have served and who are serving.

This year, for the first time, Barbara and I were privileged to attend Veterans Day events in Washington, DC. Friday, November 11th, started with a congregation at Fort Myer at which a group of folks, including us, were honored to receive an invitation for breakfast at the White House. After clearing unbelievably detailed security screening, we reached the buffet location in the White House. We filled our plates with delectable breakfast items and found our assigned table in the East Room. It was difficult to eat and take in the surroundings simultaneously. But we managed. I estimate that about 200 folks representing a plethora of VSOs were our dining partners.

After a photo op with President Obama, we departed the White House and traveled to the Tomb of the Unknowns, where President Obama presented a wreath and delivered an inspiring speech before a packed house in the filled-to-capacity Amphitheater. We then attended a reception sponsored by the Polish Legion of American Veterans, U.S.A., in the Women in Military Service Memorial venue located near the entrance to Arlington Cemetery.

At 4 p.m. there was an impressive ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Several wreaths were placed, including one by the Korean War veterans. I was honored to accompany Fern Sumpter Winbush, Acting Director of the DPAA, in placing the KWVA wreath at our Memorial.

Our hard working and highly competent Executive Director, Jim Fisher, did an unbelievable job in organizing the ceremony, at which he capably fulfilled the role of moderator. The entire ceremony appropriately honored those who have served and are serving.

This column would not be complete without paying honor to a good friend of all Korean War veterans, Major General Kyoung Soo Shin, ROK Defense Military Attaché. As MG Shin often says, “we are his heroes.” MG Shin is being rotated back to Korea now that his three-year tour in the USA is completed.

All who attended his farewell dinner on November 10th expressed their sorrow with his impending departure. He was presented several beautiful and meaningful departure gifts. The one he said that he held in highest regard was the presentation of a Lifetime Honorary Membership in the KWVA. He was light heartedly reminded that as a member now, he will be expected to proactively recruit new members.

MG Shin and his lovely wife Miyoung Yu will be truly missed.

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, New Year…

Tom Stevens, President
Korean War Veterans Association, Inc. (KWVA/US)


 
 



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