Post 10049 In The News

VFW Museum Offers a Look Into Military History

By Devon Cormier  



Wayne Wright, commander VFW Post 10049, relaxes next to a display in the post’s military museum in a storefront at the Simi Valley Town Center.

Anthony Keehne’s passion for military history, nurtured since childhood, was enhanced with the gift of scrapbooks filled with his grandfather’s research on the subject.

After recently walking through the military history exhibit sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10049 at the Simi Valley Town Center, Keehne, 30, said he wants to share his grandfather’s work by loaning it to the museum.

“I think it’s awesome,” he said of the facility showcasing military memorabilia from the early 1900s to today. “It would be cool to show off” his grandfather’s collection, the Simi Valley resident said.

The VFW had a small display at the mall for seven months, but it was moved in October to the larger former American Eagle storefront. Mall management donated the site until March 2012 and the VFW is seeking a business or other sponsor to help keep it open longer.

The current exhibit features close to 150 original posters and lithographs from the collection of Nigel Boucher, a Navy veteran who did two tours in Vietnam, 1967-69. A 39-year Simi resident, he joined the VFW four years ago after retiring from the motion picture industry.

Complementing the poster collection are thousands of pieces of military memorabilia, including correspondence to and from servicemen and women, uniform displays, small weaponry and historical newspapers and magazines, most donated by Post 10049 members and Independent Studio Services which provides war items for movies.

Having a “museum” of military history in a public place is unique, said VFW District 7 Commander Wayne Wright. Wright, who also serves as Post 10049 adjutant, represents 15 posts from Central Los Angeles to Palmdale, including Simi.

“Many of the posts have memorabilia displays, photos and equipment, but to my knowledge this is the only historical display in Southern California for an American Legion or VFW post,” said Wright, who was an Army pilot in Vietnam and then in the Army Reserve until 1991.

Located in Suite 220 toward the mall’s east end, the exhibit hall is open noon to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is free.

On Wednesday, starting at 6 p.m., the public is invited to join in commemorating the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Following a “meet and greet” and entertainment, Boucher will give a talk on the 1941 event that led to the United States entering World War II. He’ll also address the making of the 2001 motion picture “Pearl Harbor,” portions of which were filmed at Naval Base Ventura County at Port Hueneme, and CSU Channel Islands. Boucher was decorating director on the film.

At 7 p.m., Wright, master of ceremonies, will recognize any WWII veterans or Pearl Harbor survivors attending and a candlelight walk will take place around the Town Center Christmas tree.

Boucher, Post 10049 senior vice commander, has been collecting posters since 1965. The earliest is a 1908 Army recruiting poster.

“I’ve done a lot of movies all over the United States and found them (posters) in flea markets, garage sales, antique shops. All the lithographs weren’t too expensive back then,” Boucher said. A 1916 lithograph of a German ruler depicted as a gorilla pillaging the countryside was discovered rolled up in the back of an antique store back East. Boucher estimates it’s now worth $12,000 to $14,000.

Paired with Boucher’s posters, the museum displays reflect a timeline of America’s most recent military past.

Featured are areas on: WWI, WWII and Vietnam; the USO; Latino soldiers; a Medal of Honor tribute; a bulletin board of local service men and women; and a Gold Star “Price of Freedom” memorial to Simi Valley’s deceased war heroes, including Freddie Castro, a WWII casualty; Lance Cpl. Gregory Ervin, 1967 Vietnam; Sgt. Michael DiRaimondo and Cpl. Christopher Gibson, 2004 Iraq; and most recently, Staff Sgt. Joshua Cullins, killed October 2010 in Afghanistan.

Especially poignant is a table set for American POWs and MIAs.

Information on the history of VFW dating back to 1898 and the VFW Ladies Auxiliary is also available.

Except for a replicated motorbike, all the items displayed are authentic, said Post 10049 Commander Jim Curry. He served with the 101st Airborne in Vietnam.

Several thousand visitors have gone through the museum, including history students from Moorpark College and Simi Valley High, and recently two Marines home on leave from Afghanistan. The goal, Curry said, is to get more families, young people and veterans to come in.

“We’re always looking for ways to educate and keep the community involved in veterans activities,” he said.

© 2011 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. 

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VFW has a long history helping vets

By Devon Cormier  

In case you missed it, here is an article from the Simi Valley Acorn:

VFW has a long history helping vets

Guest opinion By Wayne Wright VFW Post Service Officer

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, with its auxiliaries, includes 2.3 million members in about 8,400 posts worldwide. The mission of the VFW is to “honor the dead by helping the living” through veterans’ service, community service, national security and a strong national defense.

The VFW traces its roots back to 1899, when veterans of the Spanish-American War of 1898 and the Philippine insurrection (18991902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service.

Many of these veterans had arrived home wounded or sick. Yet there was no medical care or veterans’ pension for them, and they were left to care for themselves.

From comradeship borne from battle, veterans formed the American Veterans of Foreign Service in Columbus, Ohio, and the National Society of the Army of the Philippines in Denver to secure rights and benefits for these veterans.

These two organizations merged in 1914, creating the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. The movement quickly gained momentum, and by 1915 the membership grew to 5,000; by 1936, members numbered almost 200,000.

Membership in the VFW is available to those men and women who have served honorably in the U.S. armed forces in a foreign war or overseas operation recognized by a campaign medal.

Veterans of World War I and II, the Korean conflict, Vietnam, Persian Gulf and Iraq wars, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Afghanistan and other smaller expeditionary campaigns, as well as occupation duty, all qualify.

Local post

Simi Valley VFW Post 10049, at 4242 Los Angeles Ave., currently has more than 200 members- veterans from World War II through the current conflicts in the Middle East.

All branches of service are represented. The current Post Commander, Hank Calderon, is a U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Aleutian Islands and the Pacific theater during WWII.

One of the most important functions of the post is its Service Officer Program.

The Post Service Officer is responsible for assisting local veterans and their families with receiving information and completing required forms to obtain their VA benefits.

Homeless veterans are also assisted by the post. The Service Officer may be contacted by calling (805) 583-9722.

Post 10049 is active in a number of VFW nationally sponsored youth education programs. The Voice of Democracy, an annual nationwide audio essay competition, gives ninth through 12thgrade high school students, ages 15 to19, an opportunity to voice their opinion on their responsibility to their country.

The Patriot’s Pen essay competition is an annual competition for sixth, seventh and eighthgrade students. The student must write a 300- to 400-word essay on an annual patriotic theme.

Both programs provide monetary prizes to the winners to assist them with their education.

Veterans ceremonies

Memorial Day and Veterans Day mark the two largest public ceremonies that the VFW and its brother veterans organizations participate in.

Local Simi Valley elected officials, other elected representatives, law enforcement officers and citizens honor our veterans at the Simi Valley Pioneer Cemetery and the Rancho Tapo Veterans’ Plaza.

How you can help

Financial donations are an important part of our operating budget. The post also is in need of skilled tradesmen, such as plumbers, electricians, etc., to assist the post home with necessary repairs and upkeep.

If you’d like to volunteer, you can contact the Post Commander by phone or simply visit the post on Los Angeles Avenue.

VFW Post 10049 would like to thank our Federal, State and local elected officials, and the citizens of Simi Valley, who have given the Post generous support over the years.

We would also like to thank the Staff of the Rancho Simi Community Park District for their support and assistance to our veterans.

Wayne Wright entered service with the United States Army in Oct. 1967. He served a 19month combat tour as a helicopter pilot in the Republic of Vietnam flying with the 187th and 281st Assault Helicopter Companies. He and and his wife, Darlene, have resided in Simi Valley since 1987. Wright is a retired helicopter pilot with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.



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