Action Corps Weekly

 
 September 15, 2017

In This Issue: 

1. VFW Fall Legislative Conference Presses Priorities
2. VFW Testifies at House Pending Legislation Hearing
3. How the Equifax Breach Puts You at Risk
4. Remembering 9/11
5. National POW/MIA Recognition Day
6. Reserve Forces Policy Board
7. Natural Disaster Resources
8. VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship Application Process Open
9. MIA Update 

1. VFW Fall Legislative Conference Presses Priorities: Nearly 100 VFW and Auxiliary members, primarily from the VFW’s National Legislative Committee, were in the nation’s capital this week to talk with lawmakers about VFW priorities. With sequestration continuing to strangle the budget and blocking needed funding for the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the discussion revolved around the impact of this law and the need to repeal it. VFW members also urged their members of Congress to oppose harmful increases to TRICARE cost shares, which seek to balance the budget on the backs of military retirees. Our push for those needed changes continues and all VFW members and supporters are encouraged to contact their members of Congress and urge support for the VFW’s legislative priorities. Read the talking points discussed with Congress and find contact information for your Senators and Representative.

2. VFW Testifies at House Pending Legislation Hearing: The House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held a hearing this week to discuss six VFW-supported bills. VFW National Legislative Service Deputy Director John Towles offered the VFW’s support for H.R.3122, the Veterans Care Financial Protection Act of 2017, which would protect veterans receiving Aid & Attendance benefits from dishonest and predatory business practices; and H.R. 3705, the Veterans Fair Debt Notice Act of 2017, which would require the use of certified mail and plain language in certain debt collection activities. Additionally, Towles gave testimony supporting H.R.1721, which would direct the secretary of Veterans Affairs to designate at least one city in the United States each year as an "American World War II City"; H.R.1900, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum Act, which would designate the Veterans Memorial and Museum currently being constructed in Columbus, Ohio, as the National Veterans Memorial and Museum; and two bills that would correct memorial and head marker inconsistencies for eligible spouses and dependent children of veterans whose remains are unavailable, and for those who wish to be buried in cemeteries owned by Native American and Alaska Native tribal organizations. View the hearing or read the testimony. The hearing video begins at the 21:16 mark.

3. How the Equifax Breach Puts You at Risk: In light of last week’s disclosure by credit reporting agency Equifax, where 143 million Americans had their sensitive personal information exposed, there are rising concerns that service members, veterans and their families will be disproportionately affected. Recent analysis by the Consumer Federation of America states that as a result of multiple Permanent Change of Station moves and deployments, service members, veterans and their family members are already twice as likely to have their personal financial information stolen. This recent breach only makes matters worse. While there is no immediate means for recourse, the VFW recommends verifying if your information was compromised by going to the Equifax Cybersecurity Incident. In the event that it has, you will be given the option to enroll for free in TrustedID, which is Equifax’s credit monitoring service, for a period of one year. For our active duty members, federal law provides you the right to place what is called an “Active Duty” alert on your credit report. This alert ensures that lenders must take additional steps to verify your identity prior to opening any new accounts. In order to sign up for the alert, you must register with each credit reporting agency separately –– Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Finally, it is worth noting that there has been a surge of scam artists posing as Equifax employees and calling people to verify their information. If you receive a call like this, do not reveal any of your information. Instead, take note of the phone number, the time, and the name of the individual and report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

4. Remembering 9/11: VFW Posts across the nation gathered on Monday to remember when our nation was viciously attacked 16 years ago. At the Pentagon, President Trump addressed more than 300 family members of the 184 Americans who died either inside the building or aboard hijacked American Airlines Flight 77. “Today, our entire nation grieves with you and with every family of those 2,977 innocent souls who were murdered by terrorists 16 years ago,” he said, adding that the living, breathing soul of America wept with grief for every life taken on that day. The terrorists who attacked the United States thought they could incite fear and weaken the spirit of the nation, he noted, “But America cannot be intimidated, and those who try will soon join the long list of vanquished enemies who dared to test our mettle.” Read more here.

5. National POW/MIA Recognition Day: The VFW joined in ceremonies at the Pentagon today to honor our nation’s former prisoners of war, and to remember nearly 83,000 other Americans who remain missing and unaccounted-for going back to World War II, as well as their families. The nation sets aside the third Friday in September to recognize and remember former POWs and our MIAs, but for nearly 700 military and civilian men and women assigned to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, every day is another opportunity to recover, identify and return a fallen American home to a loving family that still waits. Learn more about DPAA.

6. Reserve Forces Policy Board: On Wednesday, the VFW participated in the annual meeting of the Reserve Forces Policy Board (RFPB), which was established to assess and make recommendations to the secretary of defense on policies pertaining to the reserve components. This meeting focused on duty status reform, army sustainable readiness, and enlisted personnel concerns, as presented by the senior enlisted advisor from each service. Read more about RFPB.

7. Natural Disaster Resources: Back-to-back Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, along with western wildfires, have caused massive destruction to life and property, as well as disrupted health and medical services to veterans, service members and their families. Both the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have published information and guidance on impacts to services and resources for those in the affected areas.

For TRICARE beneficiaries:

https://tricare.mil/Resources/DisasterInfo/DisasterAlerts/09_05_17_WashingtonWildFires
https://tricare.mil/Resources/DisasterInfo/DisasterAlerts/09_05_17_PuertoRico_FL_Irma
https://tricare.mil/Resources/DisasterInfo/DisasterAlerts/08_24_17_Texas_Harvey

For information on VA hospitals, clinics, centers, pharmacies and regional offices:
http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/hurricane-irma/
http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/hurricane-harvey/

8. VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship Application Process Open: The application process for the 2018 class of legislative fellows is open. The program, which is in its fourth year, is for VFW members who attend school on a campus with an approved SVA chapter. Ten student-veterans are selected for the semester-long program. Focusing on real policy issues faced by veterans, the military and their families, the capstone of the program is participation in the 2018 VFW’s Legislative Conference. Learn more about the program or apply.

9. MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has announced identifications of remains and burial updates of 26 American servicemen who had been missing in action from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Returning home for burial with full military honors are:

  -- Marine Corps Reserve Pvt. Donald S. Spayd, 19, of Los Angeles, whose identification was previously announced, was buried Sept. 13 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. Spayd was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division. On Nov. 20, 1943, Spayd’s unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll against fierce Japanese resistance. Spayd was killed on Nov. 20, 1943. Read about Spayd.

  -- Navy Fireman 1st Class Charles R. Casto, 20, of East Liverpool, Ohio, whose identification was previously announced, was buried Sept. 14 in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. Casto was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Casto was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Read about Casto.

  -- Marine Pfc. Roland E. Schaede, 19, of Maywood, Ill., whose identification was previously announced, was buried Sept. 14 in Elgin, Illinois. Schaede was assigned to Company M, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division. Schaede’s unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll on Nov. 20, 1943, against stiff Japanese resistance. Schaede was killed on the first day of the battle. Read about Schaede.

  -- Marine Corps Cpl. Raymond C. Snapp, 24, of Bonita, Texas, whose identification was previously announced, will be buried Sept. 15 in Keithville, La. Snapp was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division. Snapp’s unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll on Nov. 20, 1943, against stiff Japanese resistance. Snapp was killed on the first day of the battle. Read about Snapp.

  -- Army Cpl. Clarence R. Skates, 19, of Los Angeles, whose identification was previously announced, will be buried Sept. 15 in Riverside, Calif. Skates was assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. Positioned between the towns of Kunu-ri and Sunchon, Skates' regiment was attacked by Chinese forces and suffered many casualties. Skates was reported missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950. At the end of the war, during “Operation Big Switch,” where all remaining prisoners of war were returned, the former prisoners were interviewed. One reported hearing that Skates died while marching to POW Camp 5, but he was unable to provide further information. Based on this information, Skates was declared deceased as of Feb. 5, 1954. Read about Skates.

  -- Marine Corps Reserve Pvt. Alberic M. Blanchette, 19, of Caribou, Maine, whose identification was previously announced, will be buried Sept. 18 in his hometown. Blanchette was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, 2nd Marine Division. Blanchette’s unit landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll on Nov. 20, 1943, against stiff Japanese resistance. Blanchette was killed on the first day of the battle. Read about Blanchette.

  -- Navy Fireman 1st Class Charles R. Ogle was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Ogle was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read about Ogle.

  -- Navy Fireman 1st Class Gerald H. Pirtle was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Pirtle was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read about Pirtle.

  -- Navy Seaman 1st Class John E. Savidge was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Savidge was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read about Savidge.

  -- Navy Fireman 2nd Class John D. Wheeler was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Wheeler was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read about Wheeler.

  -- Navy Seaman 2nd Class Frank Wood was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Wood was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read about Wood.

  -- Navy Reserve Chief Water Tender Paul R. Wright was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked his ship on Dec. 7, 1941. Wright was one of 429 crewmen killed in the attack. Interment services are pending. Read about Wright.

  -- Army Pfc. Billy R. Ball was a member of Headquarters Detachment Philippines Department, when Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands on Dec. 8, 1941. After months of intense fighting, Corregidor fell and American forces surrendered on May 6, 1942. Ball was one of the thousands of U.S. and Filipino service members taken prisoner and eventually moved to Cabanatuan POW camp. More than 2,500 POWs perished in this camp during the remaining years of the war. According to prisoner records, Ball died on Sept. 28, 1942, and was buried along with fellow prisoners in the local Cabanatuan camp cemetery. Interment services are pending. Read about Ball.

  -- Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Manuel Menendez was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. Menendez’s unit was one of those tasked with securing the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll. Encountering fierce resistance by the Japanese, almost 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and another 1,000 were wounded in the battle. Menendez was killed on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read about Menendez.

  -- Marine Corps Pvt. George F. Patrick was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. Patrick’s unit was one of those tasked with securing the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll. Encountering fierce resistance by the Japanese, almost 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and another 1,000 were wounded in the battle. Patrick was killed on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read about Patrick.

  -- Marine Corps Pfc. Harold V. Thomas was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. Thomas’s unit was one of those tasked with securing the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll. Encountering fierce resistance by the Japanese, almost 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and another 1,000 were wounded in the battle. Thomas was killed on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943 Interment services are pending. Read about Thomas.

  -- Marine Corps Sgt. William D. Ball was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force. Ball’s unit was one of those tasked with securing the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll. Encountering fierce resistance by the Japanese, almost 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and another 1,000 were wounded in the battle. Ball was wounded on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943, and was identified for evacuation to the USS J. Franklin Bell for treatment. Ball never made it to the ship and his status was adjusted from wounded in action to missing in action as of Nov. 21, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read about Ball.

  -- Marine Corps Reserve Assistant Cook Frank L. Masoni was a member of Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. Masoni’s unit was one of those tasked with securing the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll. Encountering fierce resistance by the Japanese, almost 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and another 1,000 were wounded in the battle. Cook was killed on the second day of the battle, Nov. 21, 1943. Interment services are pending. Read about Masoni.

  -- Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Donald E. Underwood was a member of the 38th Bombardment Squadron, (Heavy), 30th Bombardment Group. On Jan. 21, 1944, Underwood’s B-24J Liberator was unable to gain altitude and crashed into the water shortly after taking off from Hawkins Field, Helen Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands. All 10 members onboard, including Underwood, were killed. Interment services are pending. Read about Underwood.

  -- Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Roy F. Davis was a member of the 13th Bombardment Squadron, 3rd Bombardment Group. On March 12, 1944, Davis and another crew member were aboard an A-20G Havoc bombing enemy targets on New Guinea. They failed to return to base after the attack. Interment services are pending. Read about Davis.

  -- Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Clarence L. Dragoo was a member 716th Bomber Squadron, 449th Bombardment Group. On Feb. 28, 1945, Dragoo and ten other B-24J Liberator aircrew took off from Grottaglie Army Air Base, Italy, as part of a mission to target the Isarc-Albes railroad bridge in northern Italy, which was part of Brennan Route, used by Germans to move personnel and equipment into and out of Italy. After the bombing run, the other aircraft moved toward the rally point and witnessed one aircraft skim the mountain tops with at least two damaged engines. The plane was last seen near Lake Wiezen in Austria and no parachutes were reported exiting the aircraft. Based on this information, Dragoo was reported missing in action. Read about Dragoo.

  -- Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Thomas M. McGraw was a member 716th Bomber Squadron, 449th Bombardment Group. On Feb. 28, 1945, McGraw and ten other B-24J Liberator aircrew took off from Grottaglie Army Air Base, Italy, as part of a mission to target the Isarc-Albes railroad bridge in northern Italy, which was part of Brennan Route, used by Germans to move personnel and equipment into and out of Italy. After the bombing run, the other aircraft moved toward the rally point and witnessed one aircraft skim the mountain tops with at least two damaged engines. The plane was last seen near Lake Wiezen in Austria and no parachutes were reported exiting the aircraft. Based on this information, McGraw was reported missing in action. Read about McGraw.

  -- Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Robert L. Mains was a member of the 714th Bombardment Squadron, 448th Bombardment Group, 2nd Bombardment Division. On April 4, 1945, Mains, along with more than 400 other bombers, took off to attack airbases at Parchim, Perleberg and Wesendorf, Germany, as part of an Allied attempt to cripple what was left of the German air force. Mains' aircraft, which held ten airmen, was attacked by enemy fighter planes in the vicinity of Hamburg. Interment services are pending. Read about Mains.

  -- Army Pfc. James J. Leonard was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. In the early hours of July 20, 1950, Leonard’s regiment arrived east of Yongdong, South Korea, and began preparing to assume the defense of the city. North Korean forces began attacking their positions on July 23 and took control of Yongdong by July 25. Leonard was reported as killed in action on July 25, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read about Leonard.

  -- Army Sgt. 1st Class Elmore B. Goodwin was a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. In late November 1950, Goodwin’s unit engaged in combat operations against Chinese forces in the vicinity of Anju, North Korea. Goodwin was reported missing in action on Nov. 27, 1950. When no information regarding Goodwin was reported by returning American POWs, the U.S. Army declared him deceased as of Dec. 31, 1953. Interment services are pending. Read about Goodwin.

  -- Navy Capt. James R. Bauder was a member of Fighter Squadron Twenty One, USS Coral. On Sept. 21, 1966, Bauder flew his F-4B on a night reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. During the mission, his wingman reported losing contact with Bauder and his plane did not return to the ship. An extensive search was conducted with negative results. Based on this information, Bauder was declared missing in action. Interment services are pending. Read about Bauder.

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