Desert Storm vet named VFW national commander

*  VFW Elects First Desert Storm Vet as National Commander: Air Force veteran Brian Duffy of Louisville, Ky., was elected Wednesday as the Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States at its 117th National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. He also becomes the first veteran of Operation Desert Storm to lead the nation’s oldest and largest major war veterans’ organization. Duffy served in the Air Force as a jet engine mechanic on F-4 Phantom fighter aircraft, and later as a flight engineer aboard C-141 Starlifter transport aircraft in support of several campaigns, including Grenada, Panama, and Operations Desert Shield and Storm in Southwest Asia. In his acceptance speech, the retired UPS pilot called on everyone in the VFW to brag more about the accomplishments and public service that everyone inside the VFW knows is going on, but very few on the outside do. Among his primary objectives for the ensuing year is heightening the focus of mental health awareness and changing the veteran’s narrative — the veteran’s brand — which right now has 40 percent of Americans believing half of all veterans are experiencing mental health challenges, and an astounding 92 percent of employers believing veterans need access to mental health care programs. Also elected were Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief Keith E. Harman, of Delphos, Ohio, and Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief Vincent “B.J.” Lawrence, of Alamogordo, N.M. Also the election of the VFW’s first woman as Quartermaster General, Debra Anderson, who is also a Desert Storm veteran, held previous positions as assistant quartermaster general and director of Human Resources and Investment Coordinator prior to her election to quartermaster general. Bob Wallace is the VFW’s new adjutant general, as well as the executive director of the VFW Washington Office.

*  Presidential Candidates Address VFW Convention: Both presidential candidates made time to address the 117th VFW National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke Monday and Donald Trump spoke Tuesday, to a packed house of VFW and Auxiliary delegates. The VFW does not endorse any candidates for any office, but their appearance does continue a longstanding VFW tradition to provide an opportunity for those seeking the nation’s highest office to address the nation’s largest and oldest major war veterans’ organization. Several individuals and organizations were also recognized at the annual convention with national VFW awards, including:

— VFW Armed Forces Award to U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne);

— VFW Americanism Award to artist Scott LoBaido;

— VFW Hall of Fame Award to comedian, actor and retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Rob Riggle, a VFW Life Member of Post 15005 in California;

— VFW National Teacher Awards to Jessica Mosley, Park Intermediate School, Weiser, Idaho; Donna Kregelka,Chippewa Middle School, Okemos, Mich.; and William Ellery, Carmel High School, Carmel, Ind.;

— VFW Voice of Democracy $30,000 scholarship winner Grayson Campbell;

— And introduced was the 2016 VFW Buddy Poppy Child, 12-year-old Jaeden Davis from the VFW National Home for Children.

*  President Signs COLA Act of 2016: President Obama signed into law the Veterans’ Compensation COLA Act of 2016 on July 22. The act, H.R. 5588, proposed by Congressman Ralph Abraham (R-LA), provides veterans with an increased rate of disability benefits. The new law will go into effect Dec. 1, 2016. The Department of Veterans Affairs will also be required to increase additional compensation for dependents, clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children.

*  MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Office announced the identification of remains of one Marine, one sailor and three soldiers who had been missing in action since World War II and Korea. Returning home for burial with full military honors are. * Marine Pfc. Charles E. Oetjen, 18, of Blue Island, Ill., was  buried July 30 in Alsip, Ill. In November 1943, Oetjen was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Oetjen died sometime on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. * Army Cpl. Charles A. White, 20, was  buried  in his hometown of New Lexington, Ohio. On Dec. 3, 1950, White was a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, when his company’s position was overrun by the Chinese Communist Forces near Huksu-ri, North Korea. It would be later learned he was captured but died in captivity on May 12, 1951. * Navy Fireman 2nd Class James B. Boring, 21, of Vales Mill, Ohio, will be buried Aug. 6 in Albany, Ohio. On Dec. 7, 1941, Boring was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor when the ship sustained multiple torpedo hits and quickly capsized, resulting in 429 casualties, including Boring.  * Army Master Sgt. Ira V. Miss Jr., 23, of Buckeystown, Md., who was declared missing in South Korea on Feb. 5, 1950. He was assigned to Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. His burial date and location have yet to be announced. * Army Cpl. Curtis J. Wells, 19, of Huron. Mich., who was declared missing in North Korea on Nov. 27, 1950. He was assigned to Company C, 65th Engineer Combat Battalion, 25th Infantry Division. His burial date and location have yet to be announced.

Till next week, praying for all service members.


— Charles Castelluccio