Westmoreland Vietnam group supports all vets
These are the qualities the men who belong to the Vietnam Veterans of Westmoreland County have found and celebrate.
Many of them keep coming back for the feelings of ease they have with each other that they can't find anywhere else.
“It started as a self-help group in the early ‘80s,” said president Bill Albright of South Huntingdon, who served in Vietnam from 1971 to 1972.
“We weren't well received. We couldn't join the VFW. This group was formed to talk and get over whatever problems we had,” Albright said.
He said now the group focuses on doing what they can for all veterans.
They help other organizations and are involved with parades and other events.
The group has been holding an annual Tet Party to celebrate the lunar New Year for the past 15 years.
In 2000, the group dedicated a memorial at Twin Lakes Park listing the names of all those from Westmoreland County who died in Vietnam. It was rededicated in 2010.
Albright's wife, Janice, along with Sharon Kelley, compiled the list of the fallen soldiers and their biographies and placed it on the group's website.
For the original dedication, they provided Memorial Books complete with photos.
The list totals 97.
“This is for the veterans who never made it home,” said Janice Albright, a former librarian. “At least they're getting recognized on a website and memorial.”
Albright said she was able to get in touch with many family members to provide lengthy biographies. But in some cases a soldier's loved ones could not be located.
“I have two children who served in the military,” she said. “It's hard to look at how young some of them were.”
Danny Sager of South Huntington, a group member since 1984, grew up with one of the men on the memorial list.
“Everybody knows somebody who's on that list,” Sager said.
Sager, vice president of the group, said there are more than 100 members, although the meetings now draw between 10 to 20 attendees.
“We always tell everyone family comes first; it depends on who can make it. We're all in there as a team,” said Sager, a former Navy SEAL who was discharged in 1969.
Bill Shupe of Smithton, treasurer of the group, has been coming for more than 25 years. He said he enjoys being with other veterans.
“I have a strong sense of patriotism,” he said. “I take that for granted. The Fourth of July is a big deal around here. We have a party and invite everyone from the group.”
Shupe served in the infantry division of the Army in Vietnam from 1968-1969.
“We're all getting older,” said Shupe. “A lot of guys have died.
“I don't know how much longer we'll be able to continue,” he said.
Albright said the group welcomes social members.
Michele Stewardson is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mental health facility won’t take Franklin Regional stabbing suspect as patient
- Fundraising under way for Indiana County newborn struck by stray bullet
- Greensburg artist follows unusual path to creative career
- Somerset County man arrested after loaded gun found at Baltimore airport
- Police: Jeannette woman tried to steal family’s safe
- Attorney seeks dismissal of charge in Salem wreck that killed mother, unborn child
- Hempfield public works director’s job in limbo
- Thousands attend Mt. Pleasant Glass and Ethnic Festival
- No relief in sight for Westmoreland transit passengers
- Hribal will be transferred to Allegheny County psychiatric facility
- Motorcyclist hospitalized after Derry Twp. crash