Please Join Us on Third Thursdays for
Our new series, Third Thursday VetChat, gives you a 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. Audience Q&A will follow an initial round of questions by the host.
March 16, 7:30 p.m. | Ken Gurbisz was born and raised in Bayonne, New Jersey. He entered the Army on May 8, 1968 and was sent to Fort Polk, Louisiana for basic training. The Army then sent him to Primary flight school at Fort Wolters, Texas and then Fort Rucker, Alabama to complete his flight training. On April 21, 1969, Ken was appointed as a Warrant Office and the next day received the wings of an Army Aviator.
Ken arrived in Vietnam on May 19, 1969 and was assigned to the 604th Transportation Company, 14th Transportation Battalion, 34th Group in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. His primary job was that of a recovery pilot for downed aircraft. He also served as a maintenance test pilot and aviation armament officer. Upon completing his tour of duty, Ken was assigned to Hunter Army Airfield as their armament officer.
Third Thursday VetChats are Free and Open to the Public
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Hosted by the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation
with support from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.
Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
February 16, 5:30 p.m. | U.S. Marine Corps. Reservist Art Beltrone, a historian of military artifacts with more than sixty years of experience, will visit the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation and Vietnam Era Museum for a conversation with Interim Museum Director and Curator of Collections and Interpretation Mike Thornton.
January 19, 7:30 p.m. | Bill Leipold Served in the 191st Aviation Company (Assault Helicopter) in Vietnam from Nov 68-Nov 69. Flew over 1100 combat hours in all versions of the “Huey” helicopter; including lift ships, gunships, command and control and logistics. Duties included platoon leader and company executive officer; with the ranks of First Lieutenant and Captain. Retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. army after 21 years of service. Assignments included flight instructor, unit commander, operations officer and foreign area officer in Russian and the Soviet Union. In addition to numerous stateside posts, also served two years in Asia and five years in Europe before retirement. Awards included the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Bronze Star.
After military retirement he worked for a computer company in Europe for seven years, followed by a career in banking in New England for 12 years. Finally finished a fourth career as an educator for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Hobbies include golf, skiing and travel. Currently live in Brigantine NJ, just north of Atlantic City.
October 20, 7:30 p.m. | Rick Amsterdam grew up in what he calls a tough neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY with 7 brothers and sisters. As a kid, he always had an interest in the military – riding his bicycle to Floyd Bennett Field Naval Air Reserve Station to watch Navy Jets take off and land, borrowing library books about military leaders and campaigns, and following the military careers of family members closely. Rick himself enlisted in the Army in 1969. After arriving in Vietnam in April 1970, he was quickly sent to a remote mountain called Nui Ba Den to work as a radio relay operator. His job was to support and relay highly classified intelligence to ground units, artillery units, and striking locations for air units – without communication, everyone’s lives were at stake.
Rick returned to the States in 1971, and recalls it was a very hostile environment for Vietnam Veterans. He eventually married and had 4 children, working for the New York City Transit Authority for 31 years as a bus driver. By the 1980s, he began advocating for veterans causes, and he has never stopped.
September 15, 7:30 p.m. | John Ford grew up in North Newark, NJ, until he moved to the South Bronx, New York. He always wanted to join the military. He served three tours in Vietnam with the Special Forces. He was in Danang, Khe Sanh, and Phu Bai. He also worked as a National Police Field Forces Advisor and with a Special Mission Advisory Group. His job was to train the Southern Vietnamese troops so they could defend their country. After the military, he was a JROTC instructor, Social Studies Teacher, and disciplinarian until he retired.
August 18, 7:30 p.m. | Joseph R. Foster enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in February of 1969, during which time he reported to the CG Training Center in Cape May, NJ. He was then assigned to the 12th Coast Guard District out of Honolulu, Hawaii. His first permanent duty station was the High Endurance Coast Guard Cutter Mellon (WHEC 717). His first long range, 45 day patrol was on Ocean Station Victor and took place during the Apollo 11 mission. Upon returning from that patrol, his ship participated at underway training at Pearl Harbor after which he and his ship assumed duties during a Westpac deployment to Vietnam in January 1970. During this deployment, the crew performed search and rescue missions, contraband interdiction efforts, Naval Gunfire Support, UNREPs, MEDCAPs and infiltration trawler surveillance, and more. Upon completion of his tour of Vietnam, Joseph returned to Hawaii as a QM3 (E4) and received orders to fill an Officer’s billet as a data processing shift supervisor at an organization known as AMVERS, then located on Governor’s Island, NY. From there, he completed a 4 year tour of duty and received an honorable discharge.
July 21, 7:30 p.m. | Lt. Rick Geffken was an 1968 ROTC graduate of St. Peter’s College in Jersey City. He served as an Intelligence Officer with the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi, South Viet Nam from February 1969 to June 1970. His wartime assignments included heading the Aerial Photography Interpretation Section; working as Assistant G-2 Air in the 25th Infantry HQ Company; flying fixed-wing aerial observation missions along the Cambodian border; and working as a reporter/photographer for the base newspaper, Tropic Lightning News. He was awarded an Air Medal and a Bronze Star for Meritorious Achievement.
June 16, 7:30 p.m. | Joseph Bilby received his BA and MA degrees in history from Seton Hall University. He served as a lieutenant in the 1st Infantry Division’s 1st MP Company in Vietnam. Joe retired as an Investigations Supervisor from the New Jersey Department of Labor and is now a part-time Assistant Curator of the National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey in Sea Girt. An award-winning historian, he is the author, co-author, or editor of 22 books (two of which are on the New Jersey State Historical Commission’s list of “101 Great New Jersey Books”).
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.
Bill is a member of the VFW, Vietnam Veterans of America, the First Cavalry Division Assn., the 7th Cavalry Assn., the 5th Bn. 7 Cav. Assn. and the NJ Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation. He enjoys volunteering at the Memorial and Vietnam Era Museum to ensure that today’s younger generation supplements their classroom learning and hear from veterans who actually experienced the Vietnam Era and War.
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.
Peter served as a Specialist V in Vietnam from July 1969 until July 1970 in I Corp, East of the A Shau Valley at Camp Evans – north of the City of Hue in the most northern part of South Vietnam – as Company Clerk for an Infantry Company. He enjoys volunteering at the NJ Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and sharing his firsthand experiences from his time in Vietnam with visitors of all ages.
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.
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.
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.”
Michael McMahon of West Windsor, NJ was drafted into the U.S. Army in January 1969 after graduating from St. Francis College ‘68 in Brooklyn NY. He received training as an Infantry soldier at Fort Jackson, SC before being sent to Vietnam where he served in the Mekong Delta region with the 9th Infantry Division from June 1969 to June 1970.
Since January 2003 he volunteers as tour guide for school field-trips and other organized tours of the NJ Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and the Vietnam Era Museum & Educational Center. From 2009 to 2012 he served as a Trustee of the NJ Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation, Inc.
Michael is also a National Park Service volunteer at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall), and volunteers with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund 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. In 2012 he was the recipient of the ‘Libby Hatch Volunteer Recognition Award’ presented by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. National Park Service volunteers at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedicate their time to assisting more than four million annual visitors at The Wall. In an effort to thank these volunteers, VVMF presents this annual award in which the recipient is nominated by their peers. Michael currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Wall and continues to volunteer both there and at the NJVVMF.
Joe Leone of Mercerville, New Jersey, is an Air Force veteran who served two tours in Vietnam in various roles as an Administrative Specialist. His last assignment was with the 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron at DaNang AB. He served in Vietnam from April 1969 – July 1972.
He is currently a Respiratory Therapist in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Joe is an active volunteer at both the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund in Washington, D.C.
Joe Rosato is a tour guide at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation located in Holmdel, NJ. He has volunteered at the memorial since 2007 and is a liaison for volunteers on the Board of Directors. Joe enlisted in the U.S Navy from his hometown of Brooklyn, NY on Dec. 7, 1966. His basic training was at The U.S. Submarine Training Center in New London, CT. He ended up his enlistment in the Navy by serving in the Vietnam War at Yankee Station (Gulf Of Tonkin) in 1968 as a Helmsman and Lee Helmsman aboard the aircraft carrier USS America CVA-66.
Joe Rosato is considered a freight logistics expert and has spoken at various trade groups over the years. He is a retired owner and co-founder of his own freight logistics company based in Wall, NJ. He worked in the freight transportation industry for over 43 years before retiring in 2009. He lives in Farmingdale, NJ and has two children. His son and daughter-in law live in nearby Jackson, NJ with their two children and a daughter living in Silverton, Co.
Joe is an active speaker and volunteer with many veterans groups and for four years also volunteered in The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. He also is a lifetime member of Vietnam Veterans of America, and holds memberships in The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He considers volunteering at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial a passion for giving back some history to the youth of New Jersey.
Cappy Everhard served in the Marines and was deployed to Vietnam in 1966. Cappy served as a tank crewman for the Bravo Company, 1st Marine Division. While he spent his 20th birthday overseas, his only wish was to return to the United States, start a family and begin celebrating his children’s birthdays on American soil. For three decades, he didn’t talk about the war. But when the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial opened up to the public, so did Cappy. Cappy has volunteered as a tour guide for the NJVVMF since the Memorial opened.
Charles “Chuck” Dauchert
Charlie (Chuck) Dauchert enlisted in the Army in November 1965 from his hometown of Brooklyn, NY. He went to basic training in Ft. Dix, NJ followed by Microwave Radio and Tower Repair in Ft. Monmouth, NJ. He spent some time in Ft. Rooker, Alabama followed by additional training at Keisler Air Force Base, Mississippi. He arrived in Vietnam in October 1966 and served with three different Army units within Third Corps. After Vietnam he was assigned to the B Battery 44th Artillery in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, and spent his last four months in the Army in the San Rafeal Desert in Utah working with the Pershing 1A missile.
Chuck completed his education under the GI Bill and spent almost 30 years with AT&T followed by nine years working at a local paint store. He and his wife Dorothy reside in Schooley’s Mountain, NJ, and this July will be married fifty years. He has two grown sons.
He has been a tour guide at the Memorial for about four years and enjoys every minute of being with all his fellow Vietnam Veterans. He enjoys speaking with young people to try to keep the voice of our experiences in Vietnam alive and to understand what we went through both during the war and when we came home.
Jim McGinnis was drafted into the United States Army in October of 1965, and service with the 196th Light Infantry Brigade until July 1967 after a year. His tour of duty was from July 1966 to 1967. Jim’s MOS 11-Bravo served with Delta Company 3/21, as a Senior Scout Observer in a Recon Platoon.
Jim retired from being a Sales Rep in the Drug Wholesale Distributor Business after 40 plus years. He lives with his wife, Beverly of 40 plus years, has one married son, Jim Jr. who lives in Allendale, NJ. Jim is a Life Member in the following organizations: 196th Light Infantry Brigade Association, VFW Post 5702 in Franklin Lakes, NJ, DAV Post 32 in Bergenfield, and VVA Post 0800 in Little Ferry, NJ.
Carl Burns has been a volunteer and tour guide for 16 years. He graduated Rutgers University in 1964 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army. He served in Vietnam in 1966-67 as a helicopter pilot with the 25th Infantry Division. He met his wife RuthAnn at Rutgers. She traveled to Vietnam as an accredited correspondent. While she was there they celebrated their first wedding anniversary. Carl authored CENTAURS IN VIETNAM, published in 2008. Carl is a frequent speaker at civic organizations, high schools and colleges.
He is the President of the Rutgers Living History Society, which supports the Rutgers Oral History archives. Carl and RuthAnn were honored this year by the Rutgers University Alumni Association with the prestigious “Rutgers Alumni Excellence in Leadership Award”. He paints rocks as a hobby.
Ann Kesley was born in Indiana and grew up in Southern California. She holds a BA in Anthropology and English from the University of California, Riverside, and a Master’s Degree in Library Science from UCLA.
She was a Department of the Army Civilian librarian with Army Special Services Libraries in Vietnam in 1969-1970. She managed recreational libraries for the soldiers in Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay, Dong Ba Thin, and Nha Trang.
After returning from Vietnam, Ann worked in public, academic, and corporate libraries in New York and New Jersey until her retirement in 2009 from her position as Associate Director of the Learning Resource Center at County College of Morris.
She has served on the boards of the NJVVMF and the UCLA New York Alumni Network. At the NJVVMF, she serves on our Educational Committee and as a Trustee Emeritus. She is currently the chair of the Scholarship Committee for the Women’s Overseas Service League, and on the board of Infinite Variety Productions (IVP), a non-profit 501(c) (3) theater company located in New York City. Infinite Variety Production’s documentary history play, In Their Footsteps, is based on her oral history and four other women, both military and civilians, who served in Vietnam. It has been performed in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, Australia, Italy, and Scotland.
She has made several return trips to Vietnam.
Jim Biringer enlisted in the Marine Corp in Sept.1965. Attended boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. Military specialty – MOS 2533 radio/ telegraph operator. Training included communication school, airborne school and Vietnamese Language. Stationed in Camp Lejeune with 2nd ANGLICO until reassigned to 5th 155 Gun Battery 8”Platoon at 29 Palms, California. Outfit shipped to Okinawa in April 1967 on the USS Ogden, and subsequently to Vietnam in July, 1967. Left Vietnam Oct.1968 Served in communications and as a radio operator for Fire Direction Center (FDC) supporting fire missions. Unit assigned to 1/13 Marines 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade. Unit supported and participated in 10 or more operations during that period. Unit was awarded Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Citation and Meritorious Citation for its service in Vietnam. Tour of duty completed in Oct. 1968 returning to 2nd ANGLICO until discharged in Sept 1969.S/SGT.
Married to wife (Barbara) for 48 plus years. One son (31). Resides in Dumont, NJ. Upon discharge from service attended Rutgers – Newark evening school graduating with a degree in economics. Graduate degree from Stonier Graduate School of Banking. Employed in the banking industry for 42 years. Retired from Bank of America in December 2011 -after 20 plus years as SVP- Senior Client Manager in Business Banking.
Life Member of Marine Corp League – Detachment #434 in New Milford ,NJ Acting paymaster and membership Chairman, Life member in Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #800 at Treasurer in Little Ferry, NJ and Life member- Disabled American Veterans – Northern Valley #32. Life VFW Post 809. Lecturer on the Vietnam War.
May 19, 7:30 p.m. | Mike Ruane received an ROTC commission at Seton Hall and served 30 years in the U.S. Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve. He retired in 1993 as a Colonel. An Infantry officer, he had over thirteen years of command time at the company, battalion, and brigade level, including commanding two Light Infantry companies in Vietnam in the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. Among his over twenty awards and decorations are the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Mike currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of InfoAge, a National Historic Landmark and New Jersey’s WWII Living Memorial located in the former U.S. Army Evans Area in Wall Township. You can see Mike’s full biography HERE.