Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie will be joining more than 10,000 members of the VFW and its auxiliary at the 120th VFW National Convention as it convenes through July 24 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. “It’s been 11 years since our last national convention was held in Orlando, so it is great to be back!” exclaimed VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. “And we are honored to have two cabinet secretaries join us this week, as well as recognize some very deserving individuals with the VFW’s highest national awards,” he said. “We hope to hear Secretary Pompeo address issues, challenges and successes as it pertains to America’s overseas alliances, returning missing and unaccounted-for service members home to their families, and ongoing efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and material,” he said. “From Secretary Wilkie, we look forward to hearing about ongoing initiatives to return VA benefits to Blue Water Navy Veterans, as well as the proper implementation of the MISSION Act, and program enhancements to women’s health, mental health, homelessness, and access to VA care.” Among the numerous award recipients to be recognized will be VFW Accredited Service Representative of the Year Mike Eshenbaugh; $30,000 VFW Voice of Democracy scholarship winner Christine Troll; VFW Citizenship Award to Ken Fisher; VFW Armed Forces Award to retired Navy Adm. Michelle Howard; three VFW National Teacher Awards; the VFW Fred C. Hall Outstanding Post Special Project Award to VFW Post 10555, Panama City Beach, Fla.; the VFW Americanism Award to Ann Mills-Griffiths; VFW Commander-in-Chief’s Gold Medals of Merit to retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Kelly McKeague and retired Army Brig. Gen. Jack Hammond. The VFW will also elect William “Doc” Schmitz as VFW Commander-in-Chief for the year 2019-2020. The VFW National Convention is not open to the public, but its business sessions will be live streamed through July 24 at vfw.org/convention beginning at 8 a.m.
House Holds hearing on Pending Legislation
Last week the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a hearing to discuss 18 pieces of pending legislation to improve veteran programs and strengthen protections. Many of the draft bills introduced are supported by the VFW, such as expansion for homeless programs, small business enhancements, closing financial loopholes for predatory colleges, and an adjustment for enrollment into the Montgomery GI Bill. The VFW thanks Chairman Mark Levin (D-Calif.) and Ranking Member Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) for their continued bipartisan efforts to expand benefits and protections for service members, veterans, and their families.
Marine Corps Reserve Pvt. William E. Rambo was a member of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 8th 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 Pvt. Connie Cagle was a member of Company K, 126th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division, when his unit was engaged with enemy forces along the Soputa-Sanananda Track, near Buna, in the Australian Territory of Papua (present-day Papua New Guinea.) Cagle was killed in action on Nov. 22, 1942. Interment services are pending.
Army Sgt. Robert W. McCarville was a member of Company L, 128th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division. He was killed in action on Dec. 5, 1942, during an assault against enemy positions near Cape Endaiadere, Duropa Plantation. Interment services are pending.
Navy Fire Controlman 3rd Class Adolph J. Loebach was stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft on Dec. 7, 1941. Interment services are pending.
Navy Mess Attendant 1st Class Johnnie C. Laurie was stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft on Dec. 7, 1941. Interment services are pending.
Till next week, praying for all service members.
– Charles Castelluccio