Third Thursday VetChats

Please Join Us on Third Thursdays for


Our new series, Third Thursday VetChat, gives you front row seat to an intimate exchange with our Vietnam Veteran Volunteers led by NJVVMF Trustee Melissa Ziobro, Specialist Professor of  Public History at Monmouth University.

Gilbert “Whip” Wilson was born and raised in Camden, graduating from Camden High School in 1965. He served in the United States Air Force from 1965 to 1969, in a tour of duty including San Antonio, TX, Little Rock, AR, Thailand, and Vietnam. He received the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal.

Wilson joined the Camden Police Department after his discharge from the Air Force. While a police officer, he attended Camden County College and Glassboro State College (now Rowan University), graduating with a bachelor’s degree in law and criminal justice. He served in the Police Department for more than 26 years, retiring as a lieutenant. He was the Commander of the Vice Unit and Supervisor of the First Community Policing Unit.

Wilson has served as the Camden County Sheriff since 2015 and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation.

John “JJ” Minor has been a tour guide at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation since 2005. JJ was drafted into the United States Army in October of 1966 from his hometown of Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. He received his basic training and advanced infantry training in Fort Stewart, Georgia. JJ served in the 1/7 CAV in Vietnam and was in the Infantry (GRUNT).

JJ worked at Ford Motor Company for 35 years after the War. He is now retired and lives in Manchester, New Jersey with his wife Mary. JJ has four adult children: Michelle, Christina, Kimberly and John. He also is a grandfather of four and a half (one on the way) grandchildren.

JJ belongs to the1st Cav and the 1/7 th Cav Association. JJ says that he “enjoys volunteering at the Memorial and the Education Center because it teaches the kids about first hand experiences in the war, and we must never forget about those 1562 names on the wall that served their country with such HONOR.”

Event Details

Third Thursday VetChats are Free and Open to the Public

NJVVMF’s public programs are made possible thanks to the support of people like you. Please donate today to allow us to continue offering innovative and engaging programming.

Hosted by the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation
with support from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

Questions? Contact Jillian Decker at

Past VetChats

Bill “Doc” McClung acts as a tour guide at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation. He has volunteered at the Memorial since 2009. Bill was drafted into the US Army from his hometown of Kearny, NJ after graduating from college and teaching for a year in the NJ public school system. He entered the service in June 1968.

Michael J. Coale was drafted into the United States Army in 1966 from his hometown of Glen Rock, New Jersey. He received his Basic Training and Anti-Tank training at Ft. Carson in Colorado.

Michael served in Vietnam from 1967 through 1968 in Reconnaissance Platoons. He served with the 4th Battalion 9th Regiment and the 2nd Battalion 12th Regiment, both in the 25th Division. Michael achieved the rank of E4.

Michael retired as a Captain from the Newark Fire Department after a thirty year career in 2004. Michael is a member of the 25th Division Association. Has been a volunteer since 1996 / 1997 and also volunteers at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial – “The Wall” – in Washington DC. The Wall Volunteers are committed to sharing the legacy of all Vietnam veterans, spreading the healing power of the Memorial and educating future generations.

Michael made a return trip to Vietnam in 2004.

Peter Meloro volunteers as a tour guide at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation. Peter joined the US Army in 1967 and served in the Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles), the same battalion depicted in the HBO Mini Series, Band of Brothers televised in 2001.

Billy Terrell was born in Newark, NJ, in 1944, to a solid middle class working family. His father owned a successful construction business, which at its peak employed 22 people. Billy taught himself to play guitar and started playing gigs around Asbury Park. By the middle of May 1965, The Duprees had recorded Billy’s first song on Columbia Records, They Said It Couldn’t Be Done. It looked like Billy was finally on his way, but Uncle Sam had other plans. That same month, Billy received his draft notice and notified his employer that he would soon have to leave for the Army.

Billy reported to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Newark. From there he was bussed with his fellow draftees to Fort Dix, NJ, for 8 weeks of Basic Training. After completing 8 weeks of Basic Training and 8 more weeks of Advanced Infantry Training (AIT) at Fort Dix, Billy and a friend he made at Basic Training, Bob Reed, reported to Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, VA. Billy arrived in Cam Ranh Bay, Republic of South Vietnam, on May 28, 1966. At the end of July 1966, Billy and the rest of the 226th Supply and Service Company embarked a Navy vessel and sailed up the coast to Tuy Hoa, which would be their supply base camp for the remainder of Billy’s tour in Vietnam. He returned home on May 29, 1967.

In 2008, Billy found a trove of photographs of the Mang Lang orphanage he’d taken during the war, and returned to Vietnam to visit the orphanage and confront some of his demons. Billy’s visit to the orphanage in 2013 was life-changing, once again providing him with a sense of peace and sanctuary. He met with Sister Michelle, now in her 80s, and 4 women who remembered Billy from his visits when they were children during the war.