Information Provided By
VFW Post 10721 in Minturn, Colorado

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Mt Holy Cross VFW Post 10721 Veterans Ski Day: 30 March 2021

In 1945, 700 boys of the 10th Mountain Division made a daring night climb up the steep side of an enemy-held Italian mountain along 5 different routes.

In 2021, the veterans of VFW Post 10721 made a daring daytime ride up the steep side of a snow-covered Colorado mountain on 4 different ski lifts.

In 1945, the ski troops of the 10th Mountain Division’s 86th regiment captured Riva Ridge with only one casualty. The following days were tougher.

In 2021, the old soldiers of our VFW Posts congregated at the top of Chair 11 with only one misgiving: They couldn’t find JP Power, Trustee or Heather Parker, QM.

Fortunately, things did not get tougher, and we eventually found JP.

And today, we veterans of Eagle and Summit counties, in commemoration of all the courageous American soldiers and veterans everywhere in the world, we thank you and we honor you.

And we invite veterans to join us anytime, anywhere, any mountain in Colorado!

Freedom Park Memorial - 911, Veterans, and EMS Ground-Breaking on new Paver Wall  It was a groundbreaking week! The Eagle County Freedom Park Memorial - 911, Veterans, and EMS in Freedom Park,
Edwards, CO needed a new design to permanently display plaques purchased by locals as a way to help build the memorial
and honor their friends and family. Presently the plaques, on the floor of the plaza, are being worn down by weather and traffic.
A new semi-circular vertical wall will be constructed along the back border of the flag plaza. The plaques will be re-inked and
affixed to the wall, which will be subtly lit at night and protect the plaques. The groundbreaking event this week will be followed by
an official dedication on Memorial Day, 31 May at 3 p.m.

Donations of any amount can be made towards the wall; please send checks to Freedom Park Memorial Committee, c/o Pat Hammon,
P.O.Box 2260, Eagle, CO, 81632. Plaques can also be purchased - please contact Pat Hammon for a brochure with instructions.
We thank all our veterans and first responders for their enormous efforts and continued sacrifice. We can't wait to unveil the new wall later this spring!

Thank you to Al Zepeda, VFW Post 10721 Commander,  Kathy Chandler-Henry, County Commissioner and all those in attendance:
Veterans, First Responders, and locals who participated in the ground-breaking ceremony.
Also, thank you to those who have donated to make this possible, and all those who will visit the new Wall in the future. 

Members of Minturn Mt. Holy Cross VFW Post 10721 meet each Tuesday morning on top of Vail mountain where we ski for about three hours then head to lunch at Vendetta’s—one of the most notorious restaurants in Vail Village.

  In the photos are all former or retired NCOs and officers: Dan Osborn, SGT, US Army; Bill Welch, CPT USMC; Gerry Strickland, friend of the Post; Jim Kleckner, COL USAF: Laura Johnson, COL USAF; Dan Smith, SGT US Army; Garrett Fonda, LTC US Army; JP Power, 1LT USMC; Pete Thompson, CPT US Army; Kenton Krohlow, SGT US Army, Tamara Higgins, LTC USAF, and Wes Horner, 1LT US Army; Heather Parker, SGT US Army.

  Others not pictured include Rick Pirog, SGT US Army and the wonderful Sarah Vaughan, gold star mother.

  Although most of the group is in their 70s, there are a few in their 40s and 50s. But we all work to keep up with COL Kleckner who will be 90 in May 2021.

Eagle Valley High School's recorded VFW Post veterans interviews.
To 911 Golfers and Sponsors:

Notified yesterday by the Eagle Vail Metro District and Eagle Vail Golf Course Director due to COVID-19 concerns that we would not be allowed to host our morning 911 Public Ceremony or our golf scramble start.

The good news is we can now go to 25 teams or 100 players starting at 11:00am with T-times every 10 minutes.
Early registration will result in earliest tee times.

We hope this change does not diminish your support for our 911 Never Forget” Memorial Golf Tournament and the local students where these scholarship monies support.

Click HERE for link to The New Golf Flyer ( pdf ).
Honoring real heroes in virtual ceremony by Randy Wyrick, Vail Daily

Vail Daily

Virtual Memorial Day Ceremony When: 4 p.m. Information: The video program may be viewed on the Eagle County's Facebook page, , on Eagle County Television at and on cable channel 18 where it will repeat during the evening. The Freedom Park Memorial Committee and Minturn Mt Holy Cross VFW Post 10721 will conduct its 16th annual Memorial Day ceremony honoring all military veterans, especially those from Eagle County who paid the ultimate price for America’s freedom.
The program will be recorded Monday morning to be broadcast Monday afternoon at 4 pm . The program will include an address by VFW members Major Claire Noble, US Air Force, and Rabbi Joel Newman, retired US Navy and Post Chaplain.
Eagle Valley High School’s Caroline Dewell and Tanner Essex will sing the national anthem and the names of fallen heroes will be read by Eagle County Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry, David Witt, a senior at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and Eagle County Sheriff James VanBeek. As Boy Scouts from around Eagle County planted flags by the gravestones of local military veterans, they reverently placed a flag, stepped back, read the name on the grave marker aloud and saluted.

Mike Ross is an Army veteran working with Troop 231. In the Red Cliff cemetery, the scouts found a Spanish-American War veteran.
“It’s important to give our veterans the respect they deserve, especially the ones who died in action,” said Ross, one of Troop 231’s leaders. “Of all the service projects we do each year, this is my favorite.”

Heroes walk among us It’s one thing to commit to rote memory the names, dates and political climates of wars. It’s quite another to meet those who fought, killed and almost died — and who have the scars and Purple Hearts to prove it.
Monday’s Memorial Day services are one of those rare opportunities.

Patricia Hammond was an Army nurse in Vietnam. Pete Thompson can tell you what it’s like to fight through the jungles.

Mack McMakin flew bombers in World War II while he was still a teenager. Tom Trotter flew fighter jets for the Navy and commanded its Top Gun school. Dave Schneider was a teenager fighting in Vietnam.

Kent Lambrecht runs Vail Valley Pharmacy. During his service he learned that the military is a microcosm of the world, filled with both achievers and slackers. Lambrecht learned to surround himself with achievers.
“Surround yourself with good people,” Lambrecht said. “Someone always has your back.”

Gary Thornton graduated the Coast Guard Academy and spent 30 years in the Coast Guard, serving during both war and peace.

John Horan-Kates was born the day World War II ended. He graduated Wayne State University in 1967, as the Vietnam War was being beamed into living rooms around America. He joined the Navy.
“We didn’t know then what we know now. We knew our country was at war, and I wanted to serve,” Horan-Kates said.
Eventually, Horan-Kates landed in the Vail Ski Company’s marketing department where he coined the term, “Vail Valley.”

It was 75 years ago that heroes like Bill “Sarge” Brown, Bob Parker, Pete Seibert, Sandy Treat, Dick Over, Hugh Evans and so many others from the 10th Mountain Division literally climbed to one of history’s most miraculous military victories, the Battle of Riva Ridge, Feb. 18, 1945. Many of them also helped found Vail and dozens of other ski areas around the U.S.

Solid as Pentagon limestone
Air Force Col. Buddy Sims will be in full uniform Monday in Freedom Park, explaining how a 700-pound block of Indiana limestone blasted from the walls of the Pentagon on 9/11 came to live in Edwards.
Not long after 9/11, a couple dozen members of the local VFW Post met in Bob’s restaurant in Avon, asking, “What can we do to help America?” That’s not a rhetorical question for these people.
Sims, a decorated bomber pilot from the Vietnam era, was called back to active duty after 9/11, stationed in Saudi Arabia..
When he returned stateside he was assigned to the Pentagon, where then-Eagle County Commissioners Tom Stone, Michael Gallagher and Arn Menconi came for a visit.
During a tour of the five-sided building, Sims pointed out a pile of 100 limestone blocks behind a barbed wire fence that had been blasted from the Pentagon when Flight 77 crashed into its walls.

They decided that one should live in Eagle County.
Every piece of Indiana limestone used to build the Pentagon is numbered. The piece in Eagle County’s Freedom Park is B0045.
The commissioners rented the Penske truck Buddy and Bonnie Sims drove to haul B0045 from the Pentagon to Eagle County. Buddy and Bonnie arrived at the Pentagon about the time a snowstorm did, which shut down the entire city. So they waited a day.
The next day, they wanted to use a forklift to lift the 700-pound piece of limestone into their Penske truck.
The forklift was just sitting there, but of course, this was Washington, D.C., and no one would give them permission to fire it up.
Buddy Sims still had all kinds of generals, colonels and Congressmen on speed dial, and started working the phone.
Several sergeants and a general showed up. Eager young congressional staffers arrived to help, dressed in business attire — nice dresses, cashmere and fur coats, heels and suits.

Finally, 20 people were able to lift that piece of limestone into the truck.
When Buddy and Bonnie Sims crested Vail Pass on their way home, dozens of first responders met them to escort them home.

Veterans from the Minturn Mt Holy Cross VFW Post 10721 in conjunction with Avon and Vail Police Departments delivered much needed food items to the Salvation Army on Tuesday from Wal-Mart. Leading the VFW was Al Zepeda, Retired US Navy Chief and Post Commander, Col (Ret) Laura Johnson, USAF, and Lt Col (Ret) Tamara Higgins, USAF. Post members raised the over $2,000 for the products. To join this continuing fund raiser checks can be sent to VFW, PO Box 31, Edwards, CO 81632.

Joining forces included Avon Police Chief Greg Daly, Sgt Churches, and Officer Stamp plus Vail Police Officers Westering and Demerest. The next scheduled shopping trip for the VFW will be next Tuesday 5 May. Items purchased were milk, fruits, vegetables, children's diapers, and water just to name a few which will go to community members in need of assistance during these trying times. Please contact Commander Zepeda at 970-977-0069 to join our effort.

Vail Valley couple back home with tales to tell after long encounter with California quarantine Bonnie and Buddy Sims' Big Adventure comes full circle to Singletree Vail Daily March 24, 2020 by Randy Wyrick (approved for VFW release) After eight days quarantined aboard their cruise ship and another eight days at a San Diego military base, Bonnie and Buddy Sims' charter flight was stuck on the tarmac for one last delay before they flew home. Like the 16 days they had already spent in quarantine, no one told them much about why their plane wasn't in the air. Soon it became apparent.
From their window seat, they saw a guy resplendent in a hazmat suit cantering across the tarmac with a case of antiseptic wipes. He climbed the stairs and handed the case of Clorox wipes to a flight attendant. Think of it: An 80,000-pound plane that generates 14,000 foot-pounds of thrust was grounded for the lack of a box of antiseptic wipes. Bonnie and Buddy smiled at the irony - first because it's funny and second because there's nothing else to do.
When the door closed the captain announced, "We're headed for Denver!" A huge cheer went up. When they landed in Denver a couple hours later, the captain said, "Welcome home!" Another huge cheer went up. "We enjoyed our extended vacation. Thank you to the U.S. taxpayers," Buddy said.

Snug in Singletree

They're back in their Singletree home, where they'll stay until Thursday when they're 14-day quarantine is up. "Thanks for all the support. We're glad to be home," Bonnie said. Hundreds of friends called, texted and emailed, most asking if there was anything they could do. "It says a lot about our community when people are going through all this here and still reach out to help," Buddy said. New friends, new faces Bonnie and Buddy were among 39 Coloradans and thousands of passengers aboard the Grand Princess, that cruise ship moored off the San Francisco coast that was hit by COVID-19. They were quarantined for eight days aboard the ship and another eight at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. "Can you imagine being stuck in a small bedroom for eight days with one person?" Bonnie asked. They left their rooms one time for 15 minutes during those eight days aboard the Grand Princess to walk around the ship. A security guard kept an eye on them. "I guess they thought we were going to jump off the ship and swim to shore. A couple Coast Guard vessels patrolled around the ship, apparently to keep us from jumping off the ship and to keep the reporters from climbing on," Buddy said laughing. They met lots of new friends. Dr. Kim Look, for example, lives down in Colorado Springs. As of Monday, he was still at Miramar. Life at Miramar continues to entertain, Look said in an email. One of the cleaning crew set off a fire alarm. Usually, that would generate a huge response, but only one firefighter was sent inside. He just reset the alarm, Look said. And then there's the beehive that busy bees are building near the main entrance of their building. "We are leaving it alone," Look said. Another Colorado couple, Brad and Becky Grant celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary in quarantine. They ended up with a couple bottles of wine, but don't drink. They called Bonnie and Buddy, who were happy to take them. "On our way home we ate Doritos and drank their wine, toasting our homecoming," Buddy said. Their daily conference calls could be amusing. The CDC dispensed information and fielded complaints. Some complained they didn't have bottled water. They had tap water but apparently wanted that single-use plastic bottle. They'd complain when they were served soft drinks for breakfast, or that their morning croissants were cold and they didn't get any jelly. The first couple of days the quarantined passengers stood in a cafeteria line to get their food, spreading both gossip and germs. Price gouging was not as rampant as you might think. Their baggage loaders wore hazmat suits and gloves. "Many of them volunteered to help us," Buddy said. Students at neighboring Thurgood Marshall Middle School sent the quarantined people hundreds of greeting cards and St. Patrick's Day cards. "That just made my day," Bonnie said. High praise for Princess Cruises They left Feb. 21 for a 15-day cruise to Hawaii, one day on each island, then to Mexico. The CDC took over the cruise ship on its way to Mexico and headed north to San Francisco. "The cruise line and crew were good to everyone," Buddy said. In fact, during a conference call the feds told 300 Grand Princess passengers that while the government forced them into Miramar, the feds were not responsible for getting them home. A collective gasp ensued. A Princess Cruise Lines executive interrupted and volunteered to pay for their travel home. They even made the reservations to get their passengers home and offered everyone a free cruise, Buddy said. "That's a really good company," Buddy said. 1 2 3

Members of the Eagle Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and Minturn Mt Holy Cross VFW Post 10721 assisted local EMS

and Masonic Lodge members to honor Eagle Town Fire Chief, “Jon Jon” Asper at his “Celebration of Life” Ceremony

on Feb 15th at the Eagle River Center. CAP and VFW members provided an flag honor guard. Col. (Ret.) Laura Johnson,

USAF presented the American Flag to family members and Capt. (Ret.) Gary Thornton , USCG played military TAPs.

Over 500 locals and state EMS and Masonic members attended the ceremony for the only blind Fire Chief in America

for over 17 years in Eagle Town. “Jon Jon”, a former U.S. Marine, was a huge supporter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars

and our Edwards Freedom Park Memorial, 911 Scholarship Golf Tournament, and will be missed by all in the Vail Valley!

On Feb 11th at the Eagle County Charter Academy in Edwards, Kyra Amass, was awarded the Patriot’s Pen 2nd Place Award Certificate and check for her 2019 VFW Essay “What Makes America Great”.

Pictured in the photo is Buddy Sims, VFW Adjutant, Kyra Amass, 6th grader, and her dad, Ron Amass.

Kyra was the Minturn Mt Holy Cross VFW Post 10721 and VFW District 8 2nd place winner and was awarded a $100 prize from District and $100 prize from the local Post.

Each year more than 111,000 students in grades 6-8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest for a chance to win their share of more than $900,000 in state and national awards.

The essay contest encourages young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society, by drafting a 300 to 400 word essay,

expressing their views based on a patriotic theme.

On Jan 25, 2020 the VFW Department of Colorado Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen Award Banquet was held at VFW Post 3917 in Colorado Springs.
Pictured in the photo is Buddy Sims, Adjutant, Minturn Mt Holy Cross VFW Post 10721, Timothy Haynes, 8th grade student at the Vail Christian Academy in Edwards and VFW District 8 Commander, Kirk Rosa.

Timothy was the VFW Post 10721, VFW District 8, and VFW Dept. of Colorado Patriot’s Pen 1st Place Winner.

At the banquet Timothy was awarded a $500 college scholarship from VFW Department of Colorado, $200 scholarship from VFW District 8, and $200 scholarship from VFW Post 10721.

Congratulations to Timothy Haynes for his excellent Patriot’s Pen Essay “What Makes America Great” that passed the evaluations of our VFW organizations rising to the top.

Each year more than 111,000 students in grades 6-8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest for a chance to win their share of more than $900,000 in state and national awards.

The essay contest encourages young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society, by drafting a 300- to 400-word essay, expressing their views based on a patriotic theme.

Each first-place state winner receives a minimum of $500 at the national level, and the national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

Best of luck as Timothy moves on to the VFW National Patriot’s Pen essay contest at our Headquarters in Kansas City, MO.

Happy New Year to one and all from the Minturn Mt Holy Cross VFW Post 10721 members and families led by Post Commander Al Zepeda, USN.
The Christmas party was hosted by the Edwards Colorado Mt College and all were entertained by the Fabulous Femmes, Kathy Morrow, Beth Swearingen and Sally Peterson,
a local Vail vocal group. Comrade Fred Distelhorst, USAF is hugged by two of the ladies and Comrades Bill Welch, USMC and Commander Al Zepeda, USN welcomes the over 90 party goers.
Comrade Buddy, USAF & Bonnie Sims show off their Singapore outfits made by “Jimmy the Tailor” from China Town.
An excellent catered dinner was prepared by Chef Richard Bailey, Taste 5 Catering from the Vail Valley.
All costs were shared by members and families attending the party. A huge thank you to party co-chairmen, Harve Latson, USA & Bill Welch, USMC who made this party possible.
For any future VFW Colorado event Taste 5 Catering and the Fabulous Femmes are highly suggested. All photos by Paul Rodarte, USMC, Satellites 2 Images Photography located in Gypsum, CO.

Twenty-six Minturn Mt Holy Cross VFW Post 10721 Marines plus family members met for the 244th official 1921 Commandant’s Birthday Message and traditional cake cutting ceremony.
The annual cake cutting, reading of the USMC General Order, and our Post “mandatory” formation started at the Zino’s Restaurant and Bar in Edwards at 5 pm on Sun, 10 Nov.
Lt Col Buddy Sims, Adjutant, cut the cake and restaurant owner, Qiuseppe Bosco, served the group.
Bosco served in the Italian Marines before moving to America and starting his restaurant. Lt JP Power and Capt Bill Welch both brought their Marine swords to add more ceremonial flavor.
The Marine Corps Birthday is one of the biggest social events of the year for leathernecks all over the world.
On 10 November 1775, the Second Continental Congress resolved to raise two battalions of Marines. Congress commissioned thirty-one year old Samuel Nicholas, a well-known Philadelphian,
as captain of the fledgling force of Continental Marines. From Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Nicholas raised two battalions of Marines as directed and began the long illustrious history
of the United States Marine Corps. Every year the founding of the Marine Corps has been celebrated with a Birthday ceremony.
General David Berger, USMC Commandant’s 2019 birthday message is located at

Minturn Mt Holy Cross VFW Post 10721 - 911 “Never Forget” Memorial Golf Tournament, Eagle-Vail Golf Course:
Registration and a continental breakfast began at 7:00 am and the event started on time at 8:00 am with 120 golfers and our 20 VFW support staff.
Without all the VFW volunteers pitching in at 6:30 am our event would not have been possible.
Sr. Vice Cmdr. Pete Thompson introduced Tony Gulizia, local entertainer, for the National Anthem after VSO Pat Hammon and Comrade Dave Schneider
with help from the CO Highway Patrol raised our American Flag.
Post Commander Al Zepeda spoke on the meaning of 911 and Helmut Fricker, another local entertainer, not only played us a memorial tune on his hand organ
but then started the tournament by playing a mountain tune on his Alpine horn.
To end the event after lunch, a silent auction was held and alone raised $9,000 with donated items from over 40 local businesses.
The results of this Post effort brought the community together for an 911 “Never Forget” Memorial Remembrance.
It also allowed our VFW scholarship programs to continue at six local high schools for $2,000 to each student in May 2020 and a $500 follow-on scholarship for 3 years in college.
Many thanks go out to our local Sponsors, Donors, and VFW volunteer workers who all helped us earn scholarship monies.

Links to additional Vail Daily news coverage:

See our interviews with the Vail Daily at: prior to the event. after the event.

VFW District 8 Commander, Kirk Rosa visited the Freedom Park Memorial – EMS, 911, and Veterans in Sep 2019 in Edwards, CO on his way to a VFW District Post inspection. Commander Rosa is pictured in front of the only piece of original Limestone located in Colorado from the 911 American Airlines Flight 77 attack on the Pentagon.

Members of the Minturn VFW Post 10721 visited the SoldierStone Memorial on Aug 6 set atop the Continental Divide on Sargent's Mesa. The memorial was dedicated in 1995 to the soldiers and allies involved in the Vietnam War. Thirty-six quote granite stones are placed in the ground in three concentric circles around the memorial like so many soldiers of the outguard defending a base. One of the quote stones from a letter dated 1898 by Mark Twain says " It is a worthy thing to fight for one's freedom; it is another sight finer to fight for another man's" For many years this very "secret" Vietnam Memorial has been located on Rio Grande National Forest Lands and has been protected and cared for by the Saguache Ranger Station.

Members of the local Minturn VFW Post 10721 greet William Shuttleworth at Bob’s Place in Avon for breakfast on Jul 26 supporting his solo walk across America discussing military veterans issues. His five-step plan to help veterans includes: Elect a veteran; eliminate veteran homelessness; provide free medical care for veterans; guarantee medical and mental health treatment; and increase starting pay for enlistees to a livable wage. To assist William on his way to Vandenberg AFB, CA, his last 900 miles, please go his web page: GoFundMe page To track his progress go to his web page at: https"//

Photo Left to Right: William Shuttleworth, USAF; Dan Osborn, USA; Ross Leonhart – Assist Editor Vail Daily; Bob Cope, USA; Buddy Sims, USAF; & Pete Thompson, USA.

Minturn Mt Holy Cross VFW Post 10721 members honored in memory of Sgt Tim Cochrane, USMC, by presenting a $2,000 college scholarship to Ella Dose at the Red Canyon High School Commencement Ceremony on 7 June. Sgt Cochrane served two tours during the Vietnam War as a helicopter crew chief, earned the Purple Heart for combat wounds, and helped organize the Vail Mt Rescue Group. VFW Post will award $22,800 to 9 local high school students and 8 students in college this year for continuing education. These awards were made possible by funds raised at the 911 “Never Forget” Memorial Golf Tournament at the E-V Golf Course. Contact Buddy Sims at or 970-445-7573 to make a silent auction or cash donation, or to get involved.

Photo left to Right: Mrs. Betsy Cochrane, wife; Troy Dudley, RCHS Principal; Miss Mary Cochrane, daughter; Lt Col (Ret) Buddy Sims, USAF, and Sgt David Schneider, US Army

Photo credit given to: Mort Mulliken Photography, Edwards, CO © Contact number to confirm release, if needed by publisher, 970-376-1230

Click HERE for link to The Golf Flyer ( pdf ).
Minturn Mt Holy Cross VFW Post 10721 golf team and their American Flag Honor Guard participated in May in the Military Heroes Golf Tournament at the Country Club of the Rockies in Edwards, CO.

Photo left to Right: Sgt David Schneider, US Army; Capt Bill Welch, USMC; Lt Jerry Dooher, US Navy; Capt Steve Sanders, US Army; Sgt Moses Gonzales, US Army; Lt JP Power, USMC; & Lt Col (Ret) Buddy Sims, USAF

Minturn Mt Holy Cross VFW Post 10721 members and supporters honoring deceased VFW members presented $2,000 each college scholarships to Claire Krueger, Melisa Krueger, and Mason Mitchell at the annual BMHS Awards Night. VFW members honored for their service with a scholarship were Sgt Amadeo Gonzales, WWII, US Army; Lt John Shaw Vaughan, Iraq, US Army; and Sgt Herb Rubinstein, WWII, US Army. VFW Post will award $22,800 to 9 local students and 8 students in college this year for continuing education. These awards were made possible by funds raised at the 911 “Never Forget” Memorial Golf Tournament at the E-V Golf Course. Contact Buddy Sims at or 970-445-7573 to join our team, make a silent auction or cash donation, or to get involved.

Photo left to Right: Lt John Krueger, USN; Relatives - Lisa Vasquez, Deputy EC Sheriff; Sarah Vaughan; & Thelma Rubinstein; Lt Col (Ret) Bern Krueger, USMC; Winners - Claire Krueger, Melisa Krueger, & Mason Mitchell

Minturn VFW Post 10721 members and local supporters gathered at the Freedom Park Memorial – EMS, 911, and Veterans in Edwards on Memorial Day. A crowd of more than 100 marked the 16th annual Freedom Park Memorial Day ceremony. Members huddled together on this cold and breezy day to listen to a bagpipe presentation of “The End of the Battle” & “Amazing Grace” by Sgt (Ret). Sean Taylor, 10th Mt. Div., Iraq, USA of the Glenfinnan Highlanders from Grand Junction. The crowd also enjoyed the singing of the National Anthem by Bella Rubis, CU sophomore, and “America the Beautiful” by Caroline Dewell, a Junior, and Tanner Essex, a Sophomore, both from Eagle Valley High School. Capt. (Ret) Gary Thornton, USCG completed our ceremony with TAPs. Boy Scout Troops 231 and 222 assisted in raising the Memorial’s American flag to full staff. Those in attendance honored the fallen veterans from all the American wars and special recognition was given to local fallen Eagle County veterans! Well done by our Community! Photo: Left to right: Sgt Ernest Atenico, USMC; Capt. (Ret) Gary Thornton, USCG; Lt Col (Ret) Buddy Sims, USAF; Sgt Dan Smith, USA; Sgt. (Ret) Sean Taylor; Bella Rubis, CU; Lt. Pat Hammon, USA; Cmdr (Ret)(Rabbi) Joel Newman, USN; & Eagle County Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry

Minturn VFW Post 10721 members pictured gathered at the top of Tennessee Pass before the 10th Mountain Division Memorial and honored the names of 999 men who died and millions of others who fought in WWII. A crowd of more than 250 marked the 60th annual 10th Mountain Division Foundation Memorial Day ceremony. Members huddled together on the cold, breezy day and placed a memorial wreath at the site in a military manner.

Honoring the Vail Veterans Program by Capt. (Ret) Pete Thompson, U.S. Army

It started 15 years ago, when one of our Vail neighbors met a combat injured Army captain in a hospital far, far away. I wish I could have heard that conversation, but they made a pact that changed the world (something like: “You organize, I’ll get the troops”). That pact created the Vail Veterans Program (VVP). This year that program is being honored for hosting over 3000 seriously wounded American veterans and their families to the magic of Vail, to the magic of skiing and horseback riding, to the magic of high mountains and long life vistas. To commemorate this 15th anniversary, the Vail Symposium hosted an evening presentation entitled “The Journey Home: Celebrating the Resilience of the Human Spirit”.

Three of the Vail Veterans Program’s Purple Heart recipients participated in a live interview: ---Colonel Greg Gadson is a West Point graduate with 2 Super Bowl rings who lost both legs in an IED explosion. ---Captain Dawn Halfaker, also a West Point graduate, was a Military Police commander when her vehicle was hit by RPG rockets. ---Lt. Jason Redman is a 20-year Navy SEAL whose team was chasing an Al Qaeda target when the machine guns started firing.

These Purple Heart warriors answered questions posed by one of our local veterans, Captain Pete Thompson. Pete asked a couple of easy questions concerning their entry into the military, but then asked the difficult and probing questions about their combat injuries : “Tell us about the moment you were wounded and what you remember; tell us about your life being saved and the medical healing; tell us about the psychological scars and your recovery.” Lt. Redman described walking into a night ambush and being hit at close range by rounds from an al-Qaeda machine gun: “three bullets slammed into my chest, and two bullets hit my left elbow. Another bullet hit the left side of my head and exited through my nose, dislocating my left eye.” Captain Halfaker literally had her right arm blown off when an RPG rocket hit her vehicle, yet she described driving, in the damaged and bloody Humvee, back to base and medical treatment. Colonel Gadson whose lower body was mutilated by an IED explosion that threw him 10 meters out of his command car remembered his men, to include his commander, with mournful expressions, rallying to retrieve and stabilize him.

All three expressed sincere appreciation that the American military provided them with the best equipment and the most rapid responses. Lt. Redman said that the armor vest that shielded his chest was absolutely life-saving. Captain Halfaker remembered that although her Humvee had been hit twice by RPG rockets and gunfire, it drove them away from the ambush.

And Colonel Gadson remembered the sound of the Medivac helicopter which took him to the field hospital where he received 129 blood transfusions. All three said that because of the military’s focus on the “Golden Hour”, the hour following a traumatic injury, they survived.

Then, Captain Thompson asked them what the Vail Veterans Program meant to them. This is the question that takes their breath away. This is the question that they answer with their rejuvenated spirit. Unanimously, they said that this small, privately funded program, that brought them to the gorgeous mountains and the living activities of skiing and snowboarding was transformative. “It saved my life”. They each emphasized the many different aspects of the VVP: family, friends, activity, involvement, humor, learning, learning that the only disability in life is a bad attitude.

Col. Gadson described sharing a life experience with his family on the back of a horse less than 5 months after his legs were amputated. In describing that moment away from the hospital, but securely with his family, he had a tear in his voice.

To close, Captain Thompson reiterated why the Symposium was honoring this noble program: “Please understand that combat injuries are something that we should all know about, because it is happening to our children, to our American soldiers, somewhere in the world, …..every day. And the Vail Veterans Program is a transformative experience to rebuild confidence, rebuild friendships, and rebuild lives, ..every day.

Capt. (Ret) Pete Thompson lives in Vail, is a part-time financial management instructor for the Edwards Colorado Mountain College and a Vail Resorts ski instructor. He is the Sr. Vice-Commander of the Minturn VFW Post 10721.

Lt Col (Ret) Buddy Sims, USAF and VFW Post 10721 Quartermaster, visited Hanoi, Vietnam during February 2019. This visit closed out my “bucket list” after 50 years of serving as a 0-2A Forward Air Controller (FAC) in 1968 and a B-52D bomber pilot in 1972. Visited the Huu Tiep Lake (B-52 Lake) in the old quarter of Hanoi where B-52D aircraft, call sign Rose 1 still resides in the lake after being shot down on 18 Dec 1972 during Linebacker II. A big seller was a Trump Kim Summit T-shirt. Following Hanoi, traveled to Nha Trang, Da Nang, and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). In the middle of Saigon is a Hilton Hotel under construction and the beaches of DaNang (China Beach TV series) and Nha Trang are filled with high rise condos and tourists from all over the world. While in Saigon followed up with a rickshaw bicycle ride to test my mental health. The rickshaw drivers continue to overcharge the tourists. The Rex Hotel is still there serving drinks at the rooftop bar (remember those daily news briefings and today only $286 USD per night for a room) but completely upgraded. Most of the ARVN soldiers who served with the American forces are gone and the country is a very young Communist “Capitalist Society”. Vietnam Veterans won all the battles but our U.S. Congress lost the war. Today the Vietnamese people are prospering more than ever and very friendly to Americans. So what we accomplished in Vietnam was not in vain. My only regret is that my bomber could not have been used much earlier In the war and would have surely prevented the loss of so much American blood and treasure.

The Minturn VFW Post 10721 “Bowlin’ Thunder Warriors” bowling team showed up in matching team shirts to help the Edwards Rotary Club raise $20,000 for local high school scholarships students at the 4th Annual Sandy Treat Bowl-a-Thon (Sandy is a 10th Mt. Div. WWII Post member). Although the team “Hill and the Dills” were awarded the best dressed, it is obvious from this VFW photo it was a tie! From left to right: Lt. JP Power, USMC, Vietnam; Maj. Claire Noble, USAF, Gulf War, & Capt. Pete Thompson, US Army, Vietnam

Claire Krueger, senior at Battle Mt. High School, was named the Post 2018-2019 Voice of Democracy (VOD) Scholarship first place winner. Claire’s audio-essay speech on the theme “Why My Vote Matters” earned her a $450 check towards college. Claire was sponsored by the Minturn VFW Post 10721. Nearly 40,000 high school students from across the country entered to win a share of the $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded. The VFW established the VOD in 1947 to provide students grades 9-12 the opportunity to express themselves in regards to democratic ideas and principles. VFW members presenting included Bern Krueger, USMC; Buddy Sims, USAF, John Krueger, USN; and Daryl Woodworth, USN. School counselors can contact Debbie Robbins, Veterans School Coordinator, at 970-926-4470 for entry applications in early October 2019 for next contest.

Minturn VFW Post 10721 completed 20 Veterans Day School patriotic assemblies out of the 22 schools located in Eagle County.
Each school was provided with a VFW flag honor guard, speaker, individual Post member military histories, and member in the classroom answering the student questions and providing “show & tell” military items. It was a challenging week for our membership but we successfully averaged 10 VFW members at each school. The below Vail Daily article shows the VFW impact of just three of our combat member’s (Kent Lambrecht, USAF, Gulf War; John Horan Kates, USN, Vietnam; & Gary Thornton, USCG, Vietnam) influence in our community outreach service project!

“Vail Valley veterans tour local schools teaching lessons they learned in military service” – Vail Daily Newspaper

USMC 243rd Birthday Party at Zinos' Restaurant, Edwards, CO

VFW Post 10721 Marines met at Zinos Restaurant for the 243rd Official 1921 Commandant’s Nov 10th Birthday Message and traditional cake cutting order. Attached a photo of a few of us cutting the cake. JP Power, VFW Post Trustee even sharpened his sword this year! Next year add to your calendar and we will be at the Edwards Tavern, Edwards, CO on Sunday, 10 Nov 2019.

The Pentagon recently installed a “USMC answering machine” that is a must for all U.S. Marines to listen to the recording.

Thanks to Comrade Scott Prall for forwarding from an insider friend at the Pentagon, sort of!

Members of Minturn VFW Post 10721 Flag Honor Guard opened the Vail Christian High School football homecoming game on 5 Oct at the Gypsum Football Stadium. Left to Right Pat Hammon, Berne Krueger, Buddy Sims, Pete Thompson, and front center Sheryl Engleby, PTA Supporter.

Buddy Sims, QM 10721 receives membership award from Dept Judge Advocate,
Tony Wolusky, at 29 Sep 2018 Dist 8 Meeting.

Avery Doan, senior at Eagle Valley High School, was named the Post 2018-2019 Voice of Democracy (VOD) Scholarship 2nd place winner. Avery’s audio-essay speech on the theme “Why My Vote Matters” earned her a $200 check towards college. Avery was sponsored by the Minturn VFW Post 10721. Nearly 40,000 high school students from across the country entered to win a share of the $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded. The VFW established the VOD in 1947 to provide students grades 9-12 the opportunity to express themselves in regards to democratic ideas and principles. VFW member, Dana Whelan with teacher, Hannah Shapiro, and EVHS Principal, Greg Doan presented the award. School counselors can contact Debbie Robbins, Veterans School Coordinator, at 970-926-4470 for entry applications in early October 2019 for our next contest.

VFW Post 10721 in Minturn, Colorado for over 20 years raised money for six local high school and follow-on college scholarships at a Rummage sale that was suddenly stopped when the local school Board condemned the building.

To answer the call, Post members in May 2018 voted to host the 911 “Never Forget” Inaugural Memorial Golf Tournament at the local EagleVail Golf Course. The tournament was organized by Moses Gonzales and Buddy Sims to host 120 golfers (30 teams), to have a 911 Memorial Ceremony at 8:00 am, and followed by a scramble golf start at 8:30 am.

To our benefit members and supporters knocked on doors and asked for donations resulting in local corporations donating the lunch menu made up of salads, beans, fries, steaks, and Coors beer (Coors beer of course came from Golden, CO). The golf tournament sold out four weeks before 911.

Execution of the 911 event, like a full military OPS plan, was conducted with perfect Colorado weather and included EMS vehicles in the background with flashing lights, Post and EMS Color Guard in action, local musician Tony Gulizia singing the National Anthem, Post Commander CPO (Ret.) Al Zepeda, USN speaking on 911, and local Oktoberfest Band Star Helmut Fricker blasting out the start of golf with his Alpine Horn and hand-held organ music. 300 American Flags were placed on fairway four to remember those lost on 911.

To end the event, a silent auction was held and alone raised over $10,000 with donated items from 35 local businesses. The results of this Post effort brought the community together for an emotional 911 “Never Forget” Memorial Remembrance and also will allow our scholarship grants to go from $2,500 to $5,000 per student for college. Many thanks go out to our local Sponsors, Donors, and volunteer workers who all helped us earn scholarship monies.
Based on our first golf success in the Vail Valley, arrangements have been made to host the “soon to be annual” 911 Golf Tournament in 2019.

Links to additional news coverage:

Vail Daily Newspaper

Eagle County TV Coverage