TCVVM Dedication Ceremony 3-29-2014 - Austin Trip Report: [posted on: 4-3-2014]

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The Texas Capitol Vietnam Veteran Monument dedication ceremony was held in Austin on Saturday, March 29th, 2014. VVA Chapter 1069 provided a 56 passenger Coachways bus for the trip to Austin. Approximately 54 Chapter members, spouses and supporters rode the bus to attend the dedication ceremony. A full report of the trip follows below.

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The photo to the left shows the monument plaque.

The Chapter would also like to thank the following individuals for providing us with photos that they took at the event. Paul & Denise Francoeur, Carolyn Milder, Chris King and Billy Orsak. Without their photos, this report would not be possible.

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Links to additional information for the TCVVM are listed below.

The link below will take you to the original TCVVM website.
CLICK HERE To View the Original Monument Website (http://buildthemonument.org)

The link below will take you to the new TCVVM website.
CLICK HERE To View the New Monument Website (http://tcvvm.org)

The link below will take you on a virtual tour of TCVVM. Although the tour is designed to be used with a cell phone or tablet while you are physically visiting the monument, it will work on a PC Browser as well. You may want to also copy and save the site address shown below into your cell phone or tablet.
CLICK HERE To View a Mobile Tour of the Monument (http://tour.tcvvm.org)

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It was still dark when Chapter members arrived at the El Campo Civic Center early Saturday morning and started boarding the bus. The bus was already on site when president Leonard Sternadel arrived at 5:30 AM, pulling a trailer containing 4 electric mobility scooters and 6 ice chests full of drinks, that were then loaded into the bus's lower cargo carrier. The bus left El Campo at 6:00 AM sharp with everyone accounted for, headed for the Capitol in Austin.

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The bus made one quick stop in Altair Texas to pick up a dozen or so Chapter members. It was more convenient for some of our Chapter members who live farther from El Campo, to meet the bus in Altair. Providing this secondary bus pickup location seemed to have worked very well.

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The bus ride itself took about 2 1/2 hours, however the time went by fast. The bus had a very comfortable ride and there was plenty of back-and-forth fun conversation to help pass the time. :)

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We arrived at the Capitol in Austin around 8:30 AM, right on schedule! Everyone helped to unload the 4 mobility scooters and off we went to find our seats.

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There was quite a large variety of Vietnam War era Army equipment on display right near the bus loading zone.

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The exhibit included various Vietnam War era vehicles and aircraft.

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The exhibit also included various Vietnam War era weapons and field gear.

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The above photo shows something that some of our Chapter members were very familiar with - the M-60 machine gun. :)

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The above photo shows the view from our assigned seating area, maybe only a 100 yards from the Capitol steps.

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The above photo was taken before the ceremony started - note that the monument is still covered with a blue tarp.

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The above photo shows the 60 "Vietnam Veteran" chairs that were setup for VVA Chapter 1069 members. The chairs were already in place early on event day and provided specifically for our use. The chairs were provided for and donated to our Chapter by the following Wharton County Vietnam Veteran supporters.

* Chris King Click here to visit Wharton County Commissioner Pct 2 Webpage
* King Construction Company
* Steven Goetsch Click here to visit Wharton County Commissioner Pct 3 Webpage
* Sarah Hudgins (Leader/Coordinator for the Veteran's "Wreaths Across America" Program in Wharton County)
* Phil Stephenson Click here to visit Texas State Representative District 85 Webpage

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Note that each Chapter member will receive one of these chairs as a gift from Chris, Steven, Sarah, Phil and King Construction. VVA Chapter 1069 would like to gratefully acknowledge our appreciation and Thanks to these five contributors for supporting the Vietnam Veterans of VVA Chapter 1069, El Campo, Texas! You can be sure these chairs will continue to be used by all the members in future Chapter events, and will serve as a reminder of the great community support that Vietnam Veterans can finally enjoy today.

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What a great day for Texas Vietnam Veterans!

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The above photo shows two of our Chapter members, Ron Miller and Dan Medrano, being interviewed at the ceremony by an Austin FOX7 TV News crew. They both represented our Chapter proudly!

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The above photo is a screen capture from the FOX7 TV News Video and shows Ron being interviewed. In the TV interview Ron says, "Today's event is for Our Brothers". How true Ron!

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The above photo is a screen capture from the FOX7 TV News Video and shows Dan being interviewed. In the TV interview Dan says, "All those who did NOT come back are the real Heroes". Well said Dan!

Click on the link below to view the video of Ron and Dan being interviewed by the local Fox news!

CLICK HERE to view the Dan & Ron Fox interview video

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Above photo shows Chapter 1069 president, Leonard Sterandel, with Chris King to his left, and Phil Stephenson to his right.

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Above photo show most VVA Chapter 1069 members seated in their Vietnam Veteran chairs, and waiting for the event to start.

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Above photo shows: Chapter president Leonard Sternadel on the right, and Wharton county commissioner Chris King on the left.

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The above photo shows Wharton County Commissioner Chris King on the left, and Texas State Representative Phil Stephenson (center). Much thanks goes to Phil for being a big supporter of the TCVVM and Texas Vietnam Vererans. Also much thanks goes out to Chris for organizing the "Vietnam Veteran" chair project and for his tremendous effort in getting the chairs setup on the grounds of the Capitol early on Saturday morning.

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The above photo shows John Steelman on the right. John is the Treasurer/Secretary for VVA Chapter 1069.

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The above photo shows Frank Kulcak on the left and his brother Ed Kulcak on the right. And of course the Austin Capitol building in the background. Frank is the vice-president of VVA Chapter 1069 and Ed is on the Chapter Board of Directors. Ed is also the one responsible for coming up with the idea of providing windbreaker jackets for the Chapter. Both are wearing the custom windbreaker jackets, which by the way was needed that morning in Austin as it was quite chilly.

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The above photo shows Paul Francoeur, a member of VVA Chapter 1069. We'd like to thank Paul for taking many pictures at the event, some of which have been used in this report. By the way, Paul was a Green Beret during the Vietnam War.

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The above photo shows our view of the monument from where our Chapter was sitting. Note that in the photo, the monument cover has been removed.

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The above photo shows Texas Governor, Rick Perry, speaking in front of the TCVVM monument.

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The above photo shows speaker, Don Dorsey, Marine Corp Veteran, member of the monument committee, and creator of the "Texas Hero Tags" 3417 project. The 3417 Texas Hero Tags are entombed in the monument. A second set of Tags are part of a traveling exhibit. Click on the link below for more information regarding the Heroes Tags exhibit.

Click here to view the Texas Vietnam Heroes exhibit webpage

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The above photo shows Texas Governor, Rick Perry, speaking in front of the TCVVM monument.

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The photo above and those below show various photos of the monument, taken after the dedication ceremony had ended. Note the large number of people that were gathering around the monument. The monument is an outstanding piece of art and is truly a great monument to those Texas who served in Vietnam and to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Most Chapter members vowed to go back to Austin to view the monument again.

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The above photo shows our Chapter president, Leonard Sternadel, standing in front of the TCVVM. Much thanks goes to Denise Francoeur for taking the picture.

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The above photo shows the plaque at the base of the monument. Much thanks goes to Chris King for taking the picture.

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The above photo and those below show the various group photos that were taken of the Chapter members after the dedication ceremony. In all photos, Chapter members are standing on the steps of the Capitol.

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Time to pack up! The dedication ceremony itself lasted 2 1/2 hours! Chapter members started gathering at the bus pickup point at around 1:15 PM, and by 1:30 we were back on the road, headed to El Campo. And actually leaving Austin about half an hour ahead of schedule. Note the huge storage area in the belly of the bus. All four mobility scooters were stored there, along with 6 ice chests AND most of the Vietnam Veteran folding chairs!

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The above photo shows the only 'hitch' we encountered in the entire day trip A traffic backup due to road construction. Even though the delay set us back about half an hour on our return journey, we still made it back to El Campo right on schedule.

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Back in El Campo - safe and sound and on schedule! The above photo shows all four mobility scooters and the six ice chests loaded back onto Leonard's trailer.

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The above photo shows the last of the Chapter members to leave the Civic Center. In the middle of the group is our bus driver, "Edison". A great guy and ex Marine who is also a Vietnam Veteran. We requested that he be our bus driver, and if we take any trips in the future, we will again request that he be the driver. The Chapter would like to thank Edison for taking us on a wonderful day trip to Austin and bringing us home safely. HOORAH!!