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  • Monday, April 14, 2014

    Nat’l Commander Hails WWII Vets

    National Commander Dan Dellinger made a point of giving recognition to World War II veterans while visiting New York State April 9-11.

    Dellinger: VA Needs to be ‘Transparent, Accountable’

    Joe Barilla and Al Paviglianti

    Al Paviglianti (right) with Dept Vice Commander Joe Barilla.

    Grover Birtton and Francis Slate

    Grover Britton (left) and
    Francis Slate.

    During his dinner talks, he would take a moment to ask whether any WWII vets were present and would offer his heartfelt thanks, quoting journalist Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” description.

    Wild applause would follow. In fact, in Saratoga Springs April 10, 3rd and 4th District attendees jumped to their feet to give them a standing ovation. The night before in 5th District’s Pulaski, Dellinger and Department Commander Ken Governor got to meet some World War II veterans. There were three:

    — Al Paviglianti, 90, a 63-year member who belongs to Canastota Post 140. A marine sergeant, Paviglianti helped lead a squad involved in the first flag-raising atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. As soon as the flag was raised, the enemy lobbed a hand grenade at them.

    — G. Grover Britton, 89, a 53-year member of Williamstown Post 1128. An electrician’s mate first class, Britton served in the Pacific with the U.S. Navy. He operated a twin 40 mm anti-aircraft gun aboard the USS Sierra, a destroyer tender, and was hit with shrapnel from a Jap Zero.

    Francis Slate and Ken Governor

    Francis Slate (left) with
    Dept Commander Ken

    — Francis Slate, 93, a 70-year member of Camden Post 66. A four-time post commander, Slate served in the Pacific Theater as an army sergeant with the 81st field artillery Division. (His brother, Robert, was killed in Normandy on D-Day. His daughter, Judi Beischel, is Arizona department commander. Another daughter, Karen Kenealy, is an auxiliary member at Williamstown Post 1128, and her husband, Ted, a SAL member, has been helping his father, Smith Post 24 Past Commander Thomas Kenealy, the driving force behind an Archway for Veterans at Rome’s Memorial Park.)

    Dan Dellinger

    Dan Dellinger

    Commander Dellinger also hailed Korean War vets, and noted that he and his wife had one of the best Thanksgivings when they got to serve meals to American troops along the DMZ separating North and South Koreas. While there, he was amazed that Korean citizens would come up to them to express their gratitude for Americans fighting for their freedom — 60 years ago.

    Dellinger also offered a hearty “welcome home” to Vietnam vets, adding that he would be visiting North Vietnam this summer to meet with officials and work toward an accounting of America’s MIAs.