A fish fry held this past weekend to raise funds to help Vietnam Veterans visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, was twice as successful as its organizers had hoped.
The Union County Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Chapter 644 held its Fish Fry Fundraiser at the Monarch Fire Department Saturday morning. VVA Secretary-Treasurer Torance Inman said the fundraiser was held to raise funds to enable the chapter to visit the Vietnam Memorial, also known as “The Wall.” In April, Inman and two other VVA members, Arthur Jordan and Ronnie Swanger, drove to Washington, DC, to visit The Wall. In addition to visiting The Wall, they also visited the World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial, the Holocaust Museum, Arlington National Cemetery where they watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Mount Vernon.
After returning to Union County, Inman described the visit to The Wall as an emotional one for Jordan and Swanger, both of whom were visiting it for the first time. Even though he’d previously visited The Wall on several occasions, Inman said the experience was still an emotional one for him as well. He said at the time that it was hoped that Chapter 644 would be able to take an even larger group of veterans to The Wall next year.
Saturday’s fish fry was designed to help make that trip possible. Inman said the funds raised at the fish fry will go toward replenishing Chapter 644’s treasury so that there will be a second trip by Vietnam veterans from Union County to The Wall. He said that goal is closer to being a reality because Saturday’s fundraiser exceeded expectations.
“Thanks to the hard work of the chapter members and their families, the chapter exceeded its goal of 100 plates sold by 100 percent,” Inman said Monday. “A little over 200 plates were sold. The community really supported the chapter’s efforts and enjoyed some great fish and all the trimmings prepared by Jamison England and Jeremy Gallman. Bernice Inman, Angela Inman and Caroline England with several VVA chapter members joined in to make sure the fish was served hot and ready. Chapter 644 is very grateful to each of them for volunteering and doing a super job.”
Each plate, which included flounder, french fries, cole slaw, hush puppies, and a beverage, cost $10. With sales more than double what was expected, the chapter grossed more than $2,000 Saturday.
Inman thanked those who made the fish fry the great success its was.
“VVA Chapter 644 would like to thank all those who help make this fundraiser a success,” Inman said. “Thank you to each person who sold tickets, bought tickets, and made contributions. A special thanks to the Monarch Fire Department for allowing the chapter to use their parking lot and Holcombe Funeral Home for providing tents to get us out of the sun. Also, a special thanks to chapter members Ronnie Swanger, Jimmy Rose, Julian Cudd, Johnny Yarbrough, Mickey Gist, and Ed Burwell for going above and beyond to make this a great fund raising event.”
While the exact cost of the trip will be determined by how many veterans go, and the date is still to be determined, Inman said plan are for the next trip to be taken in spring. As in the trip he and Jordan and Swanger took, Inman said the veterans will drive up to Washington, DC.
More fundraisers will be held in the future, but Inman said they are still in the preliminary stages and will be announced later.
Inman described the VVA as “one of America’s most respected veteran service organizations and the sole organization devoted exclusively to the issues of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA Chapter 644 has also expanded its efforts to involve service to the community and all veterans in our surrounding area. Through nursing home visits to veterans and their families, flag ceremonies, Memorial Day events, Veterans Day events, civic sign displays and other activities the chapter has been able to get its name out and recruit members and generate community support.”
The chapter’s constitution states that the chapter serves to help foster, encourage and promote the improvement of the condition of the Vietnam veteran, as well as promote physical and cultural improvement, growth and development, self-respect, self-confidence and the usefulness of Vietnam-era veterans and others. Among its most recent efforts to involve its members in the community, the chapter installed and maintains new civic sign at the US 176, SC 49, and SC 18 entrances to the City of Union.
VVA Chapter 644 invites all veterans to be members of the VVA. The membership is open to U.S. armed forced veterans who served on active duty in the Republic of Vietnam between Feb. 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975, or any duty location between Aug. 5, 1964 and May 7, 1975. Associate membership is also available for family members and others veterans.
Currently, VVA 644 has a total of 45 members and associate members.
VVA Chapter 644 meets the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in the American Legion Post 22 Lodge at 120 Scenic Drive, Union SC 29379. For more information call Chapter President Arthur Jordan at 864-441-8702, Vice President John A. Gist at 864-424-9288 or Secretary/Treasurer Torance Inman at 864-427-9039.