Roscoe at VFW National
By Susan Johnson
Veterans of Foreign Wars have a special event coming up this month, with a Roscoe flower. The 113th VFW National Convention will be held in Reno, Nev., from July 21-25.
Roscoe Post No. 2955 won the Buddy Poppy state competition in Springfield. For years, VFW members have been selling artificial cloth poppies as lapel ornaments, and funds raised have gone to the national VFW. The poppies are made by hospitalized veterans; sometimes it is part of their therapy.
One of the highlights will be a display model of the ship USS Cole, which was attacked in a suicide bombing Oct. 12, 2000, while it was harbored and refueling in the Yemen port of Aden. Seventeen American sailors were killed, and 39 were injured. It was the deadliest attack against a U.S. Naval vessel since 1987. The terrorist organization al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.
Voices of veterans
The Rock River Times talked to John Rosato, a retired Navy veteran who served from 1944-1946 in the Asiatic-South Pacific region, and ended his service career on Okinawa. He is affiliated with the Roscoe, Ill., VFW, which has been incorporated since 1980.
Larry Lowry is a member of Post No. 2955. He said: “We won the district competition; then we went to the state VFW convention and won that. Now we are going to the national one. We have 50 states and Guam and other territories that send delegates. There are also VFWs in Europe who may send delegates.”
Service Officer George Young built the model ship with assistance from two other veterans. Describing it, he said: “It’s a radio-controlled 141 scale model of the USS Cole in exact detail. The ship is just shy of 5 feet — about 51 inches. The background and stuff was about 5 ½ feet wide by 4 feet deep and on a half curve.” It includes the hole in the ship made by the bomb.
Every year, VFW posts around the country compete to see which one can build the best display in one of three categories — public promotion, memorial and artistic.” The suicide bombers approached in a small craft, saluted the ship, and then set up the explosion,” explained Young. “What I tried to do is portray the ship in that harbor just moments after the attack. We made a broadcast from the day of the attack that plays in the background. It ends with the playing of ‘Taps.’ On the display are the photos we’ve memorialized … it’s like a monument walk-up. We were kind of concerned that it’s really been heavily overlooked because after Sept. 11, 2001, people kind of forgot what we did. The fact is, it was a U.S. warship, and not much was done. … We also promote it to help veterans and active military. Our goal is to use it to assist them. …
“We want to get veterans to get involved. We are still committed to that purpose. If anyone out there wants to get involved with the VFW, please give us a call. We will also do a display at Veterans Memorial Hall in Rockford and other places in the community.”
Sr. Vice Commander Bill Graves is the poppy chairman. He encourages anyone who would like to help to contact the post at (815) 623-7663. “We are looking for donations to cover the cost of sending the USS Cole display to Reno,” he said. They also need more veterans to get involved, especially more recent ones. “We really want Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to participate and join either the VFW or the American Legion,” he said. “It helps everybody — the guys that are still in the field and the veterans. We keep in touch with veterans’ benefits and the changes that happen. I’m a Vietnam veteran — that was 40 or 50 years ago. A lot of things changed. They need to stay current with their benefits.”
From the July 11-17, 2012, issue
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