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Vol. 2, No. 3 • March 2015
Supporting Veterans, National Security, Youth and Americanism
Circulation: 14,500
Dancing Into the Night
The Valentine’s Day dinner and dance at Post 283 was enjoyed by a large crowd. Dancing to the Mike Henebry Orchestra were (left to right) Kurt Toppel and Alice
Photos: Shelby Pascoe
Wroblicky, Arnie Wishnick and Maria Kidd, and Post 283 member Jerry Weber’s guests.
Congress Hears L.A. VA Problems
he 387-acre West L.A. VA campus
came under fire by Congress last
month for its commercial leases to
non-veteran supported organizations. The
hearing was based on a Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report released
in September, which uncovered land-use
agreement violations.
At the hearing of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on
Oversight & Investigations, Stephen Lord,
the GAO’s forensics audit chief said that
there were a lack of records or no records.
Of those available, many were inaccurate
and others were not monitored or updated.
“Our review of land-use agreement data
for fiscal year 2012, VA does not maintain
reliable data on the total number of landuse agreements and VA did not accurately
estimate the revenues those agreements
generate.” That year, the VA estimated revenues from all land-use agreements was
$810,000, but the report said the amount
generated should have been $1.5 million.
The GAO report detailed that a university athletics department, a laundry-services company and a soccer club occupied
VA space after their agreements had ex-
pired. According to a West Los Angeles VA
official, the VA did not renegotiate an extension for these agreements because of an
ongoing lawsuit. The university athletics
department and soccer club continued to
pay rent, although they generally did not
fully comply with the schedule of payment
terms outlined in the expired agreement.
Lord said, “Officials did not send periodic invoices to sharing partners as required by policy. As a result, two of its
sharing partners did not always submit
timely payments. And in a third case, VA
has not fully collected on the total amount
of past due rent from a sharing partner that
it did not bill as expected. Specifically, in
August 2011, VA stopped billing a hospitality corporation that operated a laundry
facility on the campus. Since that time, the
sharing partner has not made any payments as required under the terms of its
agreement. The partner vacated the space
in December 2013, and owes hundreds of
thousands of dollars to VA.”
The West L.A. officials told Lord that
they were unable to do anything because
of the appeal in the lawsuit Valentini vs.
Shinseki. On August 29, 2013, a federal
judge found that certain sharing agreements in the West Los Angeles medical
center were unauthorized under the land-
use authority. The executed and included
agreements are with Brentwood School,
Sodexho Marriot Laundry Services, UC
Regents, Twentieth Century Fox Television, Veterans Park Conservancy, Westside
Breakers Soccer Club, Westside Services,
Since the 1980s, the City of Los Angeles
has used 12 acres of VA land for recreational
uses, including a dog park and baseball
fields at Barrington Park, without a signed
agreement or payments to the VA. The GAO
report said the “lack of an agreement in
this instance could potentially increase VA’s
risk of liability.”
An agreement with a nonprofit organization to provide space and services for
homeless veterans included a rental provision that, if enforced, would have collected
more than $250,000 in revenue in 2012.
he GAO report also states that no
revenue was collected in 2012 because the rental provision was
waived. “However, from our review of the
VA solicitation for an award, demonstrating
financial viability was one of the criteria
considered in evaluating this partner. Further, VA policy requires the monitoring of
sharing agreements and does not have a
provision that allows for the waiving of
such revenues. According to the contracting
officer at the Long Beach VA office, VA has
given this nonprofit organization an unfair
advantage over other organizations that
provide similar services by lowering its operating costs.”
Members of Congress also heard that
agreement terms with the golf course
manager were not enforced (Heroes Golf
Course). “We observed the installation of
an irrigation system to upgrade a nine-hole
golf course located at the medical center,”
Lord reported. “As part of this agreement,
the partner managing the golf course is required to obtain prior approval from the
VA contracting officer before making any
improvements to VA’s property. The Long
Beach contracting officer told us that, he
was unaware of the improvements to the
course golf course and had not authorized
them, in contrast to what was stipulated
in the agreement.”
Subcommittee members were also upset
about the improper subleasing of VA space.
The report stated “a nonprofit organization—a botanic garden—subleased its
space to two other organizations, including
an exotic bird sanctuary and a food pantry.
The Long Beach VA contracting officer told
us that he was not aware of this sublease
(Continued on Page 7)
Page 2
Palisades Post 283 Newsletter
March 2015
Legion Commander—Scott Wagenseller
was explaining the American Legion to
a couple of new, and younger, Post 283
members at our last monthly meeting,
February 18. I told them members can
complete the American Legion Extension
Institute online to learn about the various
positions, committees and structure of the
Legion. But, I added that the Legion is more
than its structure; its real value is in the
camaraderie and service.
Yes, there are positions to serve at the
post, district, department and national levels; but the real pleasure of the Legion is
members spending time with each other,
not only at post functions, but also at district and department functions and annual conventions.
Legion value comes from getting to
know other members outside the post and
then working with them to meet our orga-
nization’s four pillars: supporting veterans,
national security, youth and Americanism.
It is this camaraderie that makes the 2nd
Vice Commanders position so vital for the
health of this post or any post. This position
is considered the social chairman and it is
his, or her, responsibility to develop social
functions so that all post members have an
opportunity to develop that camaraderie.
This past year, our 2nd Vice, Jere Romano, has done a great job of putting together a vibrant social calendar with
Monday football night events, dances and
other outings.
As we look to fill this position in the
coming year, I am eager to see a post member step up and say they are willing to work
on reaching out, not only to our local veterans, but also our younger veterans from
colleges and the greater Southern Califor-
nia community.
This is the position that will develop the
functions to attract our next generation of
members, who will then realize the success
and value of camaraderie and service they
get from being members of Post 283 and
the American Legion.
1st Vice Commander—Fred Votto
s the eastern half of the United
States is firmly gripped by the subzero cold of winter, we can only
hope that the first day of spring will bring
relief for all our fellow legionnaires. It will
definitely be a welcome change if the milder
weather can melt the frozen streets.
The month of March is a time of beginnings as symbolized by spring. We will have
new beginnings at the post as we start the
election process for the coming year. We
will also look back on the history of the
American Legion as we celebrate its 96th
birthday March 15 to 17, and we anticipate
our centenary year in 2019.
March also marks the official anniversary
of “The Star Spangled Banner” named as
the National Anthem. The song was originally penned as a poem “In the Defence
of Fort M’Henry” by Francis Scott Key in
September 1814 after U.S. Soldiers at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry raised a huge
American flag to celebrate a crucial victory
over British forces during the War of 1812.
Ironically, the words were put to the
music of a popular English song of the day
titled “To Anacreon in Heaven” that had
been composed in 1775.
A British song became the music for a
poem inspired by a battle fought against
the British. The fact is that it wasn’t until
Robert Ripley published one of his “Believe
It or Not” columns in 1929 that the American public realized that the United States
did not in fact have a national anthem.
As a result, great pressure was brought
and on March 3, 1931, “The Star Spangled
As a public service announcement: reBanner” was declared the official national
anthem by President Herbert Hoover. The member to spring forward on March 8,
the return to daylight savings time.
rest, as they say, is history.
2nd Vice Commander—Jere Romano
he Santa Monica College Student
Veterans Association (SVA) is now
into the spring semester and will be
planning several activities for the remainder of their academic year 2014-2015.
The SVA would like to extend a heartfelt
invitation to Post 238 members to attend
the free “Spring 2015 Veteran Students
Welcome Back BBQ,” which will be held
from 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m., on Thursday,
March 27, at Auxiliary Services, at 1738
Pearl Street.
Come on out and mingle with some of
the more than 400 veterans currently benefiting from the new GI Bill through the Santa
Monica College Veterans Resource Center.
Parking is limited so please RSVP with me,
so I can make parking arrangements.
After our Monday night football party
success, we would like to continue the camaraderie with college hoops viewing
Past Post activities have included several
successful dinner and dances. Don’t miss
our last two: St. Patrick’s Dance will be on
March 21 with the Pix Six Band, and on
May 16, the Mike Henebry Band will return for Armed Forces Day. The cost will
be $30 per person and $50 per couple.
Please RSVP as soon as possible with Ruth
Hackney at (310) 454-0527.
The American Cancer Society’s 24-hour
cancer walk, Relay for Life of Santa Monica
and Venice, will take place at the Santa Monica College football field on Saturday, May
2, starting at 10 a.m. They are looking for
teams and cancer survivors to be honored
at the morning ceremony. Double Tree will
be providing a survivor breakfast buffet.
parties. Join us starting at 5:30 p.m. at the There will be a host of activities and enterPost on Thursday, March 26 and April 6 tainment during the 24 hours. Visit: relay(or like some schedules say: time might be For more information,
subject to change).
please contact [email protected]
Scott Erickson
n her acceptance speech at the recent
Oscar ceremonies, Best Supporting
actress winner Patricia Arquette took
the opportunity to issue a plea for equal
pay for women.
I would like to take this opportunity to
echo a cry for equal pay for the women and
men serving in the Armed Forces of the
United States. My plea is somewhat more
factual than the one issued by Ms. Arquette.
The pentagon budget unveiled in February details a 1.3 percent pay raise for
military personnel, which first must be
approved by Congress.
Still suffering from the impact of sequestration, military families will be further
harmed by a proposed pay increase that
lags well behind that anticipated in the private sector.
Should the proposed budget be adopted
it will also contain cuts to the military
commissaries operating hours and raise
PX prices to cover the cost of overseas
Service families depend heavily upon
these privileges to equalize the disparity
between civilian and military pay, especially in foreign countries.
Further the proposed budget would consolidate the Tri-care health system resulting
in cost increases for families using services
outside of the system and raise fees for use
of emergency room facilities at military
bases and installations.
Now more than ever we must spare no
measure to support those who sacrifice to
protect us. One way to begin would be to
bring service member’s salaries more in line
with that of Ms. Arquette.
March 2015
Palisades Post 283 Newsletter
Page 3
Palisades Pilot Reflects on Interesting Missions
Staff Reporter
etired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Thomas Betts calls himself a draft dodger
from Pacific Palisades who just
loved to fly. He kept being offered work by
the U.S. Air Force following his stints in
Vietnam and other parts of the world.
“I was just a surfer from Pacific Palisades,” he said as guest speaker on February
19 during the monthly Sons of the American Legion dinner and meeting at Post 283.
He moved to Asilomar with his parents
Edward Gardner (World War II pilot) and
Donna Breckenridge Betts and his siblings
Donald “Breck” and Janet, shortly before
Halloween in 1955. Two years later they
moved to Enchanted Way and in 1960, the
family moved to Las Lomas, where Ed and
Donna lived until they passed away. Although Betts now lives in Highland, the
family still owns the Palisades home.
Betts attended Marquez, Paul Revere and
graduated from Palisades High School in
1965. He was a member of Boy Scout Troop
90 (with Rich Wilken) and still remains active with Scouts. He was one of the people
on PaliHi’s 50th reunion committee in 2013.
He went to Santa Monica College and
graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from San Fernando Valley College
in 1969.
“I married my Girl Scout best friend,
Janis in 1971, we have two kids and two
grandchildren,” Betts said.
In 1970 he joined the U.S. Air Force and
remained in service until 1993.
“After graduating from Fort Rucker, I
was a logistics squad commander,” Betts
said. “My first assignment, Drop Tent, was
supposed to be in Korea but it was changed
Tom Betts flew the HH-53 “Jolly Green Giant.”
Lt. Col. Thomas Betts spoke at Post 283.
to a long-range combat search and rescue
mission in Okinawa, Japan.”
Two years later, he was sent to Vietnam
for four months. A helicopter pilot, Bett
flew into the A Shau Valley, which is located
west of the coastal city of Hue, along the
border of Laos. It was one of the key entry
points into South Vietnam for men and
material brought along the Ho Chi Minh
Trail by the North Vietnamese Army and
was the scene of heavy fighting.
“In the beginning, I slept in quarters covered by a corrugated roof on the runway,
with a latrine ditch outside,” Betts said.
“One night when I was asleep, an engine
check was being performed on a C-130
nearby and, by accident, a security plane
unloaded its M-16 on the aircraft.”
Betts said luckily no one was hurt and he
eventually moved to air-conditioned quar-
ters, where he lived the ‘high life.’ “I could
buy a martini for 25 cents and a rib-eye
steak for $1,” Betts said.
Flying a T-37 Tweet by Cessna, most of
his combat search and rescue missions were
over water. Sometimes the missions would
be hundreds of miles out on the water and
he would have to rendezvous with the Navy.
Betts could have been promoted to
squadron commander, overseeing 900
people, but all he wanted to do was fly.
He has flown countless planes, but primarily he piloted the HH-53 “Jolly Green
Giant” helicopter, which was used in search
and rescue missions and had in-flight refueling probe, external fuel tanks, rescue
hoist and three-gun armament. “We had to
use a hydraulic wrench to pull people up
from the jungle,” Betts said.
The pilot flew the Northrop T-38 Talon,
a two-seat, twin-engine supersonic jet
trainer, which can reach speeds up to Mach
1. It was the world’s first supersonic trainer
and still remains in service.
Photo: Photographer
He also worked as a military aircraft
mishap investigator and a military magistrate. While serving the USAF he traveled
the world with his wife and children, including spending a lot of time in Germany.
Rather than go into airlines, which is the
route many pilots opt for after the service,
he earned a master’s degree at the Air Force
Institute of Technology and became an
aerospace engineer.
One of Betts’ more interesting missions
was to fly from Christchurch, New Zealand
to McMurdo Sound, Antarctica using the ice
runway, which is constructed annually. By
early December, the ice begins to break up.
It’s the principal runway for the U.S.
Antarctic Program during the summer
season and handles wheeled aircraft. One
summer, the Royal New Zealand Air Force
did a trail run with a modified Boeing 747.
From 1997 to 2002 he served as a logistics project engineer with United Paradyne
at Edwards Air Force Base.
Since then Betts has served as a consultant for All Star Tech Services and Parsons,
as well as aerospace engineer for Northrop
Grumman. He remained a military logistics consultant through 2011 at a range of
defense and aerospace companies, including Lockheed Martin and JANTEC.
Law and Order
Night March 23
One of Betts' more interesting missions was piloting planes to Antarctica and landing on the ice runway.
Photo: Photographer
Last year 14 firefighters, paramedics, F.B.I.
and police were honored at the American
Legion District Law and Order Night held
at Post 283. Among those honored were
LAPD officers Cesar Chavez and Mario
Vega, who pursued the notorious Christopher Dorner during an area-wide manhunt. After receiving the award, both men
thanked family and friends. Chavez said, “I
feel blessed to be here.” Vega added, “Thank
God for taking care of me that evening.”
This year, the awards dinner will be
March 23, at Post 283 on La Cruz Dr. Tickets are $10, and reservations are a must.
Call: (310) 454-0527.
Page 4
Palisades Post 283 Newsletter
March 2015
Ryan Wallace Advances
in Oratorical Contest
fter winning at the Post level, Pacific
Palisades resident Ryan Wallace advanced to the district level of the
American Legion Oratorical competition
at Hollywood Post 43 on February 23.
In addition to winning $1,000, the Loyola
sophomore will advance to the Area level on
March 1, which will also be held at Post 43.
If he advances, Wallace moves on to Department (state) finals on March 8. All high
school students are eligible to participate in
the program; the national winner receives
All participants must write, memorize
and deliver an 8-to-10-minute speech on
the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, he/she
must also prepare a three-to-five minute
speech on Amendments 5, 6, 8 and 19 and
be able to speak on each one. The contestants are unaware of which Amendment will
be chosen until five minutes before their
(Amendment 5 guarantees protection
against double jeopardy, the right against
self-incrimination; the right to remain silent
and the right to due process. Amendment
6 says the accused shall enjoy the right to a
speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury
of the state where the crime was committed.
Amendment 8 ensures excessive bail and excessive fines not be required and that unusual
punishments cannot be inflicted. Amendment 19 gave women the right to vote.)
Judges, timekeepers and tabulators are
an integral part of the contest. The judge
qualifications are considered carefully as
the decision must be reached without bias.
Impartiality is key to success of the program. During the contest, each judge is
seated in different locations of the room,
and renders his or her final decision without consulting the other judges.
Wallace’s speech was titled “We the People,” and lasted nine minutes and 18 seconds. He also spoke on Amendment 8,
outlasting tough competition from Andrew
Selvo, a junior at Venice High School, and
Samuel Novicki, a sophomore at Cathedral
High School.
“The most important thing is keeping
your composure,” Wallace said after the
contest. “It’s really good for you, especially
[for] speaking publicly.”
Oratorical Chairman David Gibson congratulated Wallace, Selvo and Novicki, noting
the competition was extremely tight this year.
“It’s the first time we’ve hosted at Post
43,” Gibson said. “I thought the contest-
(Left to right) Oratorical Chairman David Gibson, with contest winners Ryan Wallace
Photo: Alex Herrera
(first), Andrew Selvo (second) and Samuel Novicki (third).
ants were outstanding.”
Gibson has been at the helm of the district oratorical contest for many years, and
the assigned topics are decided at the national American Legion level.
“The first amendment comes up often,”
he said. “What I like to see is when students
relate their speeches to things going on
today. The constitution is still so relevant.”
Edrieanne Votto, whose husband Fred is
Post 283 1st Vice Commander, said, “I was
very impressed with these kids. It’s not an
easy task to memorize an eight- to 10minute speech. All these kids speaking are
taking on a rather heavy academic load. It’s
not an assignment. I thought that showed
a degree of persistence and determination,
and I thought they all performed well.”
Votto, who taught English at Venice High
School for many years, will be a judge at the
next competition.
Wallace, the son of Mary and Greg,
heard about the contest from Tom Vavra,
a volunteer speech and debate coach at
Loyola, who also a Post 283 member.
This was Wallace’s first Legion Oratorical contest. “I’d be interested in politics
and some aspects of philosophy and debating,” he said. “But, I still have time to
decide what I’d want to do.”
Palisades Auxiliary Unit 283
President: Vi Walquist • 1st Vice President: Jean Renner-Manser • 2nd Vice President: Joanna Curtis • Jr. Past President: Nancy Niles • Secretary: Kit Festa
Treasurer: Ruth Hackney • Chaplain: Milly Mucia • Parliamentarian: Alice Karl • Sgt.-at-Arms: Maria Kidd • Marshall: Bentleigh Borgeson
Executive Committee: Susie Johansen & Sue Pascoe
Auxiliary President’s Report
t is difficult to believe we are approaching our end of year 2014-2015. The
months include July 1st to June 30th.
By the end of March each program chairman will be completing her End of Year
report as to what was accomplished to be
submitted to the District President. For instance Membership Chairman, Jean Renner-Manser, reported 130 paid members
for February. Good news! We now have
151 members. Adding five more paid
members would make our goal and a successful ending to Jean’s report.
Another program is National Security.
The object of this program is to maintain
and promote a strong national defense by
strengthening and supporting military
service members and their families. As previously mentioned in the Palisades Post 283
Newsletter we have adopted 311th ESC
Family Readiness Group located on Wilshire and Federal. We felt fortunate to be
able to support them with a holiday celebration. We are looking forward to helping
in other endeavors but it will take some
time since there is a change in command.
We have donated $500 to the 640 Aviation
Support Battalion as well as $120 for the
Military Children’s Dance on April 11TH.
Expected number of guests is 185. The Post
is donating $240 so we should have three
tables covered.
Emergency preparedness is also part of
National Security. Post 283 sponsored a
work shop at the post for members of the
post and auxiliary on Saturday, February 21
for four hours. There were twenty attendees
ably instructed by Bill Skinner, a member
of the Optimists, and a rep from the Red
Auxiliary President Vi Walquist
Cross. Our Post is registered as an EmerPhoto: Shelby Pascoe
gency Care Center with the Red Cross. We
have met the requirements due to the fact
Statistics show that in the United States
that there is a First Aid Kit in the office, par- heart attacks are the leading cause of death.
ticipated in a current CPR training course
There are 597,000 heart attacks a year
and obtained instruction on the use of the and cancer is a close second with 575,000.
AED—automatic external defibrillator.
Half of the heart attacks occur to those
under sixty-five. Women account for almost half of them. It is a good feeling to
know how to administer CPR and AED.
The 3 “C”s to follow are: CHECK the scene
for safety, victim for consciousness, breathing, signs of life, severe bleeding. CALL
911, CARE care for conditions you find.
The last program to be covered is Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation. We contributed four prizes consisting of Polo shirts
and socks for the veterans Valentine Day
dance at the WLA VA. Our St. Patrick’s Day
lunch is on Monday, March 16th at ll:30
a.m. Over 100 veterans are expected to attend from WLA VA, Sepulveda and Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Centers and Cal Vet
Home. Of course the menu will consist of
corned beef and cabbage with the trimmings. Included is an apple dessert with
caramel sauce and berries. It will be catered.
Please call Nancy Niles, program chairman,
if you would like to help. This is a fun-filled
event with delicious food, recognition of
our veterans, entertainment and joy.
March 2015
Palisades Post 283 Newsletter
Page 5
Furstenfeldbruck Remembers Higgins’ Heroic Act
Staff Reporter
s a recently accepted member to the
Sons of the American Legion at
Palisades Post 283, I want to introduce the story of my late grandfather,
Richard W. Higgins.
He was a brave veteran who saved the
lives of people in a small German town by
making a fast, life-changing decision when
his plane malfunctioned.
Higgins was born in 1922 in Framingham, Massachusetts. He gave up school in
Vermont to become a pilot in the United
States Army Air Forces. In early 1944 he
married his wife Elisabeth, and shortly afterwards he received his wings.
He briefly lived a civilian life after World
War II, and then joined the United States Air
Force again as a fighter pilot in the 522nd
Fighter-Escort Squadron in the Korean War.
In 1956, Higgins moved his wife Elisabeth and children Tuck, Blair (my mother)
and baby Peter, to Fürstenfeldbruck, where
he was based.
This town in Southern Germany was the
site of an air base in 1936. The Luftwaffe
used the Fliegerhost before and during
World War II. After the war, the USAF 70th
Fighter Wing occupied the facilities. In
1955, the British, French and American occupation of Germany ended and permission was given to the West German government to reestablish its armed forces.
In 1953, the 7330th Flying Training Wing
was activated in Fürstenfeldbruck. The
Wing’s mission was to provide upgrading
and instructor training for students of the
Mutual Assistance Pact (MAP)—recipient
countries in T-33 trainers; to operate and
maintain Fürstenfeldbruck Air Force Base;
provide administrative and logistical support for tenant units; prepare for the recep-
Richard W. Higgins
tion and provide necessary tactical support
for tactical units using Fürstenfeldbruck as
a staging base; and to operate and maintain
the Sieganburg gunnery range.
My grandfather was an experienced
member at the base with a total flight log
of 2,476 hours. About a third of the hours
were on the Republic F-84F “Thunderstreak” aircraft, which started to be flown
at the base in 1956.
He was asked to take over a maintenance
flight on April 5, 1957, as a stand-in for another pilot on duty. It was a typical spring
day with dry and sunny weather. The test
flight was for rudder breakout forces, and
Higgins had flown the aircraft before and
wanted to test it again. No other problems
were mentioned.
At 10:49 a.m. Capt. Higgins started his
roll down runway 10, and right after takeoff
his plane began experiencing engine problems. Eyewitnesses said they heard abnormal rumbling noises, and that the aircraft
stopped climbing. A right turn was made
to execute a “closed pattern” to return for
Blair Higgins Sanderson, her mother Elisabeth Higgins Tatem, and former nanny
Maggie Contro in 2000 at building 227 named for USAF Capt. Richard W. Higgins at
Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base.
The school at Fürstenfeldbruck, attended by Higgins’ children, is now a flight safety school.
an emergency landing.
At about 800 feet over Fürstenfeldbruck,
flame was seen coming from the tailpipe
of the F-84F. Engine thrust decreased. The
aircraft was losing altitude and, although
the tower requested ejection, it was not an
option for Higgins: there were too many
houses below.
He continued descending westbound
looking for an unpopulated area away from
the town. At roughly 80 feet above ground
level, he imitated ejection procedures, however, it was too late for full deployment of
his parachute. He died upon impact, two
minutes and 18 seconds after takeoff.
The cause was turbine failure at the
fourth stage of the high-pressure compressor, and the aircraft had 103 hours on the
airframe at the time of the accident. The
crash was the first accident with the German F-84F.
By delaying his ejection until clear of the
town, Capt. Higgins saved the lives of many
people. To this day the crash site is still unpopulated, and a favorite recreation area
for residents. Ten days after the accident
“Richard-Higgins-Straße” (street) was
named after Capt. Higgins. He was posthumously promoted to major by the USAF.
As a result of his heroic action, the people of the town have also dedicated an elementary school and building 227 on the Air
Base in his name.
Blair Higgins Sanderson and Elisabeth
(now age 79) were invited back to Germany, and on April 5, 2000, attended a ceremony 43 years after Richard’s death.
Blair recalls being met at the airport in
Munich by U.S. and German air force representatives, along with their former nanny
Maggie Contro. (The American government has since given the air base back to
the German government.)
On the ride to the base through Fürstenfeldbruck, every store and house had an
American flag hanging from it. It was then
Blair realized how much her father’s sacrifice meant to residents. “When we drove
on the base, people lined up and clapped,”
said Blair, who left Germany almost 60
years ago.
“It was a magical time in my life. Our
wonderful nanny Maggie took me everywhere on her bicycle,” Blair said. “I remember all the little shops that had wonderful
treats to buy. And the holidays, there was
always something special about them. The
decorations were simply beautiful.
“I remember how my father waited on
my mother, bringing her coffee before he
went to work and all the presents he gave
her from his travels,” she said. “I do remember that he wanted me to be independent and self-reliant.”
On the base, Blair noticed that the same
school she had attended as a child was now
the flight safety school.
Post 283 Awards
American Legion Post 283 will
award Army ROTC Scholarships to
University of Southern California students on March 6. Presenting from
Post 283 is service officer Don Avdul.
Winning the Gold Medal Military
award of $200 is Alex Matyosian and
the Gold Medal scholastic award of
$200 goes to Lawrence Tsang. Recipient of the Silver Medal Military award
of $150 is Richard Nailling and the
$150 scholastic award goes to Manuel
Rios. The Bronze Medal Military
award of $100 goes to Erika Hill and
the $100 scholastic award to Zachariah Ramirez.
Page 6
Palisades Post 283 Newsletter
March 2015
Navy Reserve Celebrates 100 Years
n March 3, 1915, the Navy Reserve
was founded to serve as a trained
force available to meet the needs
of the active duty Navy.
Reservists must meet the same qualifications as those on active duty, and provide
vital skills necessary to maintain national
security and support the United States interests worldwide.
Every day, reservists serve side-by-side
with their active duty counterparts on station, on shore, in the air, at sea and on the
drill deck. The Navy Reserve provides essential naval warfighting capabilities and
expertise, strategically aligned with mission
requirements. The Navy Reserve is valued
for readiness and innovation.
Vice Admiral Robin R. Braun is the current Chief of Navy Reserve.
“Today’s Navy Reserve Sailors have served
as a force multiplier and have been relied
upon to support a wide spectrum of mission areas across the globe,” Braun wrote.
“In 2013, we provided more than 1.2 million man-days of operational support to the
Navy, Marine Corps and Joint Force, including 4,146 Reserve Sailors mobilized to support Overseas Contingency Operations.”
Braun notes the reserves three tenets:
warfighting first, operate forward and be
“A ready Reserve Force delivers welltrained Sailors where and when required.
Knowing we provide increased capacity
and capability at a reduced cost, we will
identify mission areas and requirements
that are periodic and predictable and can
be effectively executed by the Reserve
Our reservists’ commitment to the Navy,
to shipmates and to community is truly inspirational, and their continued dedicated
service in support of the Navy, Marine
Corps and Joint Force lends credence to our
motto: “Ready Now. Anytime, Anywhere.”
American Legion Post 283 Commander
Scott Wagenseller is a member of the Navy
Celebrations to mark the centennial are
nationwide throughout 2015.
Sons of the American Legion
Commander: Jim Yocum • 1st Vice-Commander: Charles Curtis • 2nd Vice-Commander: Larry McNamee • Finance Officer: Howard Klein
Adjutant: Greg Frost • Sgt.-at-Arms: Frank Wiley
Executive Committee Members • Kelly Hornbaker, Tom Doran, Hank Elder, Tom Yaeger (Past Commander)
Squadron 283 Commander’s Notes
or February’s Living History Night
talk, we had the honor to be addressed by Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Tom Betts, U.S. Air Force.
Betts, a 1965 graduate of Palisades High
School, spoke at length about his career
piloting rescue helicopters and long-range
transport aircraft, as well as his later experience in logistics. His talk was well-illustrated
with personal photographs and will be written up in more detail in another article.
If you’d like to see some of our past
speakers, just go to the Squadron website: to see some of these talks as we have
recorded all of them over the past several
years. We will be rotating these recorded segments over the next few months as we edit
the last few months’ worth of recordings.
SAL Commander Jim Yocum
Switching gears to the Squadron’s upcoming volunteer efforts, I’d like to pass on
a regular service opportunity that members
of the Sons are participating in over the next
few months and one that we have written
about in this newsletter, Operation Gratitude.
Operation Gratitude solicits contributions of goods and funds to send care packages to troops, veterans and new recruits
worldwide. On a regular basis, the local
distribution center uses volunteer labor to
package these items for shipment.
The next few months’ schedule for the
Weekend Volunteer Assembly Days is below
and anyone in the community, including kids
who might need to receive community service hours, are welcomed to join the effort.
Upcoming volunteer opportunities are:
Saturday, March 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.;
Saturday, April 25 from 1 to 4 p.m.; and
Saturday, May 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The schedule is subject because of military operations at the armory, so please
review Operation Gratitude’s website
( Volunteers 12 years old
and older are welcomed, but those between
12 and 16 need to be accompanied by
adults. The site for assembling packages is:
California Army National Guard, 17330
Victory Boulevard, Van Nuys, CA 91406.
We hope to see many of you there as possible to help support veterans and active
duty service members.
You are invited to our next regular meeting for the Squadron on Thursday, March
19, when we will again feature another
speaker on our Living History night.
Call: (310) 454-0527.
SAL Commander Jim Yocum, Squadron 283 Public Relations Officer Grant Ivey and
Squadron 283 Adjutant Greg Frost.
Supporting Our Troops
Sons of the American Legion Squadron
283 (SAL) several years ago adopted a
local military unit, VAW-116 (or the “Sun
Kings”), an airborne command-and-control squadron usually based at Naval Base
Ventura County at Point Mugu, to provide support.
For the last few months, the 180 men
and women of the Sun Kings have been deployed to skies over Iraq and Syria, flying
daily missions off their carrier, often in
harm’s way.
The Sun Kings fly the E2-C Hawkeye, a
propeller-driven flying radar plane—a
smaller carrier-launched version of AWACS.
Since this deployment, the SAL’s usual local
sponsorship of sailor and aviator activities
has been put on hold.
Not wanting distance or deployment to
interfere with SAL sponsorship, the Sons
have raised funds, including a donation
from USAA Insurance Company to purchase much-desired personal goods and
snacks, and ship them to the carrier.
As you can see from the photo, Sons were
able to assemble a dozen boxes of goods that
were sent to foreign destinations last month.
If you would like to learn more about
the program or how you could donate
goods or best support the troops, please
e-mail Post 283 SAL Commander Jim
Yocum ([email protected]).
March 2015
Palisades Post 283 Newsletter
Seeking Vets for
Pilot Book
Discussion Group
(Continued from Page 1)
prior to our audit.”
The GAO report also found incorrect
billing: for some of the incorrectly billed
agreements, sharing partners paid the
correct rent amount as specified in the
agreement even, though the bill stated an
incorrect amount.
The West L.A. VA also incorrectly coded
billing so that money from land-use agreements which are required to be deposited
in the medical care appropriations, went to
fund maintenance salaries.
The report said “VA officials acknowledged that agreements are not centrally
managed or stored and that CAI [what is
CAI?] does not include all terms of the
agreements that are needed for monitoring activity, but federal standards state all
transactions need to be clearly documented,
and the documentation should be readily
available for examination and the documentation should be properly managed
and maintained.”
Skye McDougall, acting director of the
Veterans Integrated Service Network,
promised another audit of the property in
April, and that rents would be part of the
Former West L.A. Facility Asset Manager
Ralph Tillman stepped down in September
and Donna Beiter, longtime Greater Los
Angeles director, retired in December.
Palisades Post 283
The American Legion
15247 La Cruz Drive
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272-3610
(310) 454-0527 • Fax: (310) 230-3980
Local website:
Department website:
Email: [email protected]
Post meets the 3rd Wednesday each month
Commander: Scott Wagenseller
1st Vice Commander: Frederick Votto
2nd Vice Commander: Jere Romano
Finance Officer: Bob Ryan
Historian: Jared Morgan
Adjutant: Scott Erickson
Judge Advocate: Jay McCann
Chaplain: Bill Branch
Service Officer: John Johansen
Sgt.-at-Arms: Shaphan Koresland
Asst. Sgt.-at-Arms: Jerry Martinez
Executive Committee Members
Jay McCann -2
Everett Maguire -1
Kurt Hiete -1
Lee Barksdale -2
Dr. Michel Martini-3
Lou Cozolino -3
Editor: Sue Pascoe
Graphics Director: Manfred Hofer
Page 7
Former Village Book shop owner Kathleen O’Laughlin, who now works as a reference librarian at the L.A. County Law
Library, was approached by Cal Humanities
about a pilot-book discussion program for
The National Endowment for the Humanities has given a grant to Maine Humanities to pilot the program in 11 states,
including California.
O’Laughlin is seeking five to 10 vets who
would be willing to meet once a month for
Photo: Robert F. Sargent, United States Coast Guard
four to five months and discuss assigned
readings about war. The readings are short
stories or articles, rather than books.
“It’s not a huge reading commitment,”
O’Laughlin said. “We could meet once a
month, either in the evening or on Sunday.
Did you ever visit Omaha Beach
When you stand on the bluffs of Omaha The meetings don’t have to be more than
Just sand and water like any other
an hour or an hour and a half. Cal HumanWaves come in and waves go out
Looking out over the sea
ities will provide copies of all the reading
A dreary sky and a hint of rain
In this blood stained tract of desolate land materials and a stipend for refreshments.”
You’ll see the value of liberty
The goal would be to start the program
Foam sloshes up and sweeps the sand
this month and go through July, or possibly
An occasional branch drifts up on the shore A watery grave for thousands of men
start in April and go through August. At
An eagle swoops down to scan the water Who their families never will see
the end of the program is there is a survey
But the flowers visitors throw when the
Adjusts its course and flies away
for participants to fill out. The National
tide comes in
Endowment for the Humanitiies will use
Carries the petals when the tide goes out the feedback to revise or improve the proThe bluffs are scruffy and wet
The land is sullen and bare
Proudly each floats on the crest of a wave gram before launching it nationwide.
Nothing ever changes here
“I would love to re-engage with the PalSaying “he’s buried here and I’ll be his cross
Days fade into years
community,” O’Laughlin said. “I
I’ll stay here in the ocean as long as I can
would be an interesting and valuUntil you will say ‘goodbye’
But once this forlorn forgotten beach
able project.”
Of value to no one in France
E-mail [email protected] or
Then I’ll sink beneath the deep Atlantic
Set the scene for a heavy price
call (213) 785-2539.
And watch him forever faithfully.”
Paid by those who gave their lives
A priceless gift that came at a cost
Of lives surrendered in a foreign land
They swarmed into water toward the shore
Thousands of men in arms
—J. Waddington
Surging forward in the wayward waves
(The poet laureate of Santa Monica
Struggling to reach that useless land
Canyon, Larry Waddington is a retired Los
Angeles Superior Court Judge and former asThe water turned red flooded in blood
sistant attorney general for the state of CalAnd bodies sank under shattering guns
ifornia. Waddington has published a book,
Young men killed in their prime
Disorder in the Court, written in layman
Lay littered on sand and on shore
terms, that reviews the decisions of the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals. It is available
Night fell upon this deathly sight
through Amazon.)
The ocean swept the dead away
Those brave young men who bled and died
On a place they called Omaha Beach
‘Omaha Beach’
St. Patrick’s Day
Dinner & Dance
The sea now shrouds the men
Who never reached the shore
A watery grave buries them all unknown
Without a cross to mark their sacrifice
5:30 p.m. Social Hour (Green Beer)
6:30 p.m. Dinner
7:30-11 p.m. Dance to Pick Six Orchestra
$30 per person/$50 per couple
No traveler comes to Omaha Beach
Dead men forgotten in the sands of time
But the waves pound out their fame
Break over the sand and roar every day
Name: ________________________________
Saying “these are the men who set you free
You live because they died
You can live now when they could not
Their legacy is your liberty”
No. of Guests: _________________________
Amount: $ ____________________________
Make checks payable to:
American Legion Post 287
15247 La Cruz Drive, Pacific Palisades
(Event is open to American Legion
Family, guests and new members.)
Page 8
Palisades Post 283 Newsletter
March 2015
MARCH 2015
Oratorical Contest
1 p.m. (Hollywood Post)
Executive Board Meeting
5:30 p.m.
Election Day
Post closed for voting
Daylight Savings Time begins
at 2 a.m.
Oratorical Contest
1 p.m. (Hollywood Post)
Doo-Wop Wed Widing Hood
2 p.m. (Theatre Palisades)
PAPA Parade meeting
6:30 p.m. (Post 283)
Exercise Class
10-10:45 a.m.
Dept. Meeting Santa Maria
St. Patrick’s Vets Lunch
11:30 a.m. (Post 283)
Doo-Wop Wed Widing Hood
2 p.m. (Theatre Palisades)
Law & Order Night
6:30 p.m. Dinner
Palm Sunday
St. Patrick’s Day
Exercise Class
10-10:45 a.m.
Mysterious Book Club
6:30 p.m. (Palisades Library)
Exercise Class
10-10:45 a.m.
Purim begins (sunset)
Exercise Class
10-10:45 a.m.
Auxiliary Bingo (Bldg 500)
Nickel & Dimed
7 p.m. (Mercer Hall, PaliHi)
Exercise Class
10-10:45 a.m.
Legion Bingo (Bldg 500)
Orchid Society
7 p.m. (Woman’s Club)
Dept. Meeting Santa Maria
Community Council Meeting
7 p.m. (Paul Revere)
Free Exercise Class
12:30 a.m. (Woman’s Club)
Post 283 & Auxiliary Dinner
And Meeting, 6-9 p.m.
Free Computer Class
10 a.m. (Legion Hall)
Free Exercise Class
12:30 a.m. (Woman’s Club)
Nickel & Dimed
7 p.m. (Mercer Hall, PaliHi)
Nickel & Dimed
7 p.m. (Mercer Hall, PaliHi)
Doo-Wop Wed Widing Hood
7:30 p.m. (Theatre Palisades)
Dept. Meeting Santa Maria
Wise Aging 2 p.m. (Library)
Nickel & Dimed
7 p.m. (Mercer Hall, PaliHi)
Doo-Wop Wed Widing Hood
7:30 p.m. (Theatre Palisades)
First Day of Spring
Exercise Class
10-10:45 a.m.
SAL Dinner and Meeting
6-9 p.m. (Legion Hall)
Speaker Gina Nahai
6:30 p.m. (Palisades Library)
Legion News Deadline
Exercise Class
10-10:45 a.m.
Free Exercise Class
12:30 a.m. (Woman’s Club)
Bus Trip to Pasadena
9:15 a.m. (Los Liones St. 23)
Free Exercise Class
12:30 a.m. (Woman’s Club)
Doo-Wop Wed Widing Hood
7:30 p.m. (Theatre Palisades)
Dept. Mtg Santa Maria
Doo-Wop Wed Widing Hood
5 p.m. (Theatre Palisades)
Nickel & Dimed
7 p.m. (Mercer Hall, PaliHi)
Native Garden Workshop
10 a.m. (West L.A. VA)
St. Patrick’s Day Dinner
and Dance
6:30-11 p.m.
Community Council Meeting
7 p.m. (Palisades Library)
Exercise Class
10-10:45 a.m.
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Lewis
By Don Gagliardo
©2015 Tribune Content Agency, LLC
1 Thin streaks
6 Influenced by, recipe-wise
9 Ones who deal with dealers
14 First name in furniture
15 Editor’s job
17 Seeking lodging
19 Unidentified Jane
20 Tugboat sound
21 Commodities dealer
22 Summit meeting goal
24 18-Down, with “down”
26 Rearing place
27 Pulling away
31 This and that
32 Deep gulf
33 Global financial org.
36 Mexican supermodel Elsa
39 Hardly transitory
41 Gig session
42 Venetian island
44 1998 Sarah McLachlan hit
45 More at dinner
48 Suffix with school
51 CIA predecessor
52 London home of Constables
and Sargents
53 Block deliverers of yesteryear
55 Powerful lobby for seniors
57 Cape Canaveral’s st.
60 Stadium supporters, and a
hint to their cry hidden in
17-, 27- and 45-Across
63 Self-control
64 Felt poorly
65 “Golden Boy” playwright
66 “Hello, ewe!”
67 Mausoleums
1 Metalworking union
2 “Was __ hard on her?”
3 Crime scene clue
4 K2 is on its border: Abbr.
5 State secrets?
6 Cornstarch brand
7 Right hook setup
8 Noisy scene
9 “Mayberry R.F.D.” setting
10 Nearby
11 __ la Plata
12 Attends
13 Dik Browne pooch
16 Evaluation for creative
18 Make a memo of
23 Yours, to Yvette
25 “Now I remember!”
27 Watch chains
28 Peter Fonda’s beekeeper
29 Medicine cabinet items
30 Suffix with malt
33 Low-budget pic, usually
34 Chief
35 Coach’s challenge indicator
37 StubHub offerings, briefly
38 Latvia neighbor
40 Spellbound
43 Baked, layered entrée
45 Clown Kelly
46 French I infinitive
47 Purring snuggler
48 Extremely tiny
49 Needed liniment
50 Creator of many pieces?
54 Writes the wrong zip code,
56 Pooch in whodunits
58 Award-winning comic
book writer Jeph
59 Additions
61 Pointed end
62 South-of-the-border uncle
[email protected]