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VFW Post 10721 in Minturn, Colorado




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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




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.

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

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.

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!

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



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.

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

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.







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.



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.

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 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 tlsims@cox.net 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 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 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 tlsims@cox.net 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 ).
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"//vetsdontforgetvets.com

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.


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.