Activities Page


Our Chapter was formed over 28 years ago and has been active in our community since that time. We have sponsored and been successful in with many programs. Some of the continuing activities and accomplishments include:

Cal Poly ROTC Awards and Commissioning Ceremonies
Grizzly Youth Leadership Conferences
Veteran Tribute Luncheons (WWII, Korean, and Vietnam)
Lost at Sea Memorial Day Ceremonies
Law Enforcement Month honoring select local police
Charles Paddock Zoo Statue and Sign special project
Your American Heritage Monument with Boy Scouts
And support to many other Community/Veteran events


MOWW Goals 2020-21

1.Of the monthly meetings two are planned as joint meetings (see #12, below) with MOAA; the other meetings should include guest speakers, persons of interest and note to the community; civilian and military spokespersons to the degree possible on issues of worth to our members

2. Increase new membership by at least 2% (2 new members)

3. Conduct a minimum of one, one day Youth Leadership Conference with the Grizzly Academy

4. Sponsor ROTC certificates and/or awards; attend commissioning services; invite outstanding ROTC cadets to meetings, and present awards

5. Present local First Responder Award to an outstanding person (law enforcement, safety and/or security worker)

6.  Provide Eagle and Girl Scout Gold Awards upon request, throughout the County

7. Participate in Lost at Sea Ceremony

8. Participate in funeral services as requested

9. Conduct regular Executive Committee meetings, as needed and requested; such meetings will attend to chapter business in lieu of previous regular chapter meetings. These meetings will generally be held on the second Wednesday of the month, except July and August when the chapter is “dark”

10. Participate in Veteran’s Day and other related military activities and memorials services

11. Continue support of sister veteran’s organizations activities as identified

12. Continue to join with MOAA in social events throughout the year; at least one will be the traditional holiday/Christmas meeting






Cal Poly ROTC Award Ceremony on campus June 6, 2019


Both MOWW and MOAA awarded citations and medals to Distinguished Cadets. Commander Lou presented the MOWW Certificates of Recognition as Distinguished Military Graduates to four cadets.


Certificates were given as follows:

MOWW Gold Award, Grant S. Lemen; MOWW Silver Award, Andrea M. Murgula; and MOWW Bronze award; Cadet Austin D. Beck. Cadet Christian Diebenow received the “William Sommermeyer Memorial Award” award.



The commissioning of graduating cadets occurred on 15 June at the Cal Poly Spanos Theater.



Grizzly Youth Leadership Conference 5/11/2019


The Grizzly Youth Academy is hosted by Camp San Luis Obispo (SLO) which is the original home of the California Army National Guard. It served as an Infantry Division Camp for the United States Army during World War II.

The Grizzly Academy is basically a “military boarding school,” providing structure and support 24/7 for youth who previously struggled in school due to academic and social problems. Working as individuals and in groups, cadets develop skills and habits to overcome obstacles that have held them back in the past and learn to succeed.

Please scroll down to the “Grizzly Youth Leadership Conference 5/12/2018” for a more comprehensive description of the Academy.



MAJ Jim Murphy organized the conference and made a presentation on Leadership as well as leading a discussion of several American Patriotic Speeches


LTJG Joe Brocato discussed American Exceptionalism


Capt. David Brandmeyer presented an approach to Establish Targets: Goals and Objectives






WWII Veterans Tribute Luncheon, March 19, 2019


In the Central Coast area, there are an estimated 22 WWII Veterans still living, 15 attended this second annual luncheon held at the San Luis Obispo Country Club as these brave veterans were honored for their service.

“You know when many people see a veteran they say, ‘thank you for your service.’ This is a tangible expression of that expression,” said LTJG Joe Brocato, USN (Fmr) and our WWII Veterans Tribute Luncheon organizer.

This is the second annual event that was inspired by what started as a gathering of a few WWII veterans in 2014 (scroll down). That event ballooned into a dinner for 110 plus their families and friends, Brocato said.


Joe Brocato with the opening
of the event
The attendees


Maj Jim Murphy reading a special
"Ode to Veterans"





Our Companion Leo Dumouchelle, 96, held the rank of Staff Sergeant in the Army during his active duty from 1942 – 1946.
Leo was a parachutist with the storied 82nd Airborne Division.


He was part of the invading force in Normandy on D-Day in June 1944. He also spent time in North Africa at the start of the war and was briefly a POW. For his service, he received three Purple Heart Hearts and a Bronze Star.

“I went the whole way around with Patton. He’s a hell of a guy,” Leo joked to the crowd prompting much laughter.


Despite the many walkers and wheelchairs needed by the veterans, these men were bound and determined to attend. The average age of the WWII veterans in the room was 95 years old.

“We want everyone in the United States to honor these veterans for all of eternity. We want to make sure of that and we especially want to honor them while they are alive,” said Companion MAJ Ernest Miller,MD who supported Joe as a

Major Jim Murphy summed up the tribute event simply, “This is a labor of love.”

Among the honorees there were three that survived the battle of Iwo Jima, several fighter pilots who flew combat missions in the Solomon Islands, Europe and China, and an airman who was a prisoner of war in a German camp.







Senator John McCain Tribute

Atascadero Boy Scout Troop 51 lowered the flags on the American Heritage Monument to half-staff upon the death of Senator John McCain.  The troop raised the flags upon the burial of Senator McCain on 2Sept2018.

The Scouts always cite the Pledge of Allegiance after lowering or raising the flag.





Cal Poly ROTC Award Ceremony on campus 6/7/2018


Cal Poly’s Army Reserve Officers Training Corps’ class of 2017-18 is among the top student groups in the nation. The Program had the 4th highest average cadet order of merit scores among 281 U.S, colleges and universities across the country that have ROTC programs which includes senior military colleges such as Texas A&M, Virginia Military Institute and Valley Forge Military Academy and College. The order of merit score is based on leadership skills, physical fitness tests and cumulative grade point average. No Cal Poly unit has scored this high in the nation before - showing that this graduating class is exceptional.


Commander LTC Lou Stout presented certificates and checks to the following undergraduate cadets (selected by the program personnel) as follows:

Joseph Thurling      
Marcial Nunez        
Harrison Meyer     
Taylor Palmaffy      




$100 (the “William Sommermeyer Memorial” award)




Grizzly Youth Leadership Conference 5/12/2018


The Grizzly Youth Academy is hosted by Camp San Luis Obispo (SLO) which is the original home of the California Army National Guard. It served as an Infantry Division Camp for the United States Army during World War II.

The Grizzly Academy is structured as a “military boarding school,” providing structure and support 24/7 for youth who previously struggled in school due to academic and social problems. Working as individuals and in groups, cadets develop skills and habits to overcome obstacles that have held them back in the past, and learn to succeed.

In addition to academics, Grizzly Academy takes a deeper holistic approach focusing on the whole person. The aim and philosophy is to produce well-rounded, competent graduates who successfully and immediately transition into the workforce, higher education, vocational schools, or enlist in the military.

The cadets are challenged so they learn to apply themselves, persevere, and succeed. The Camp staff builds their leadership skills and physical fitness, provides opportunities for them to serve others, instills self-discipline and motivation, and develops their self-confidence and interpersonal skills.

Through partnerships with parents and mentors, the cadets are further supported to apply the skills they learn at Grizzly to their school life, work life, and social life.


Our annual leadership conference with the Grizzly youth was held on campus May 12, 2018. There were 25 students in attendance.


MAJ Jim Murphy organized the conference and made a presentation on Leadership as well as leading a discussion of several American Patriotic Speeches


LTJG Joe Brocato discussing
American Exceptualism
MAJ Jim introducing Diane Blakeslee-Brocato
for her discussion of American Capitalism
Capt David Brandmeyer presenting an approach to
Establish Targets: Goals and Objectives





                                                                                Photograph by Dennis Eamon Young
L-R seated: Cpl Benedict Bellefeuille, Cpl Joe Hale, LT Thomas Coryell, Cpl Karl Appel. Standing L-R: LTC Louis Stout, MAJ Ernest Miller, MD, LTJG Joseph Brocato,
LT Ronald Janney and Cpl Timothy Haley.


During the time they served:

Cpl Bellefeuille Cpl Hale

LT Coryell

Cpl Appel

Uncommon Valor in San Luis Obispo

“Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue.” That historic statement was made by Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Chief of Naval Operations-Pacific Fleet to honor the bravery and sacrifice of Marines and Sailors who fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. That quote has since been inscribed on the USMC War Memorial outside of Washington, DC and in the hearts and minds of patriotic Americans.


On April 19, four of the Americans who inspired Admiral Nimitz, came together at a luncheon at the home of Joseph and Diane Brocato where they were celebrated by members of the local Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars, their families and friends.


Two were wounded and received Purple Heart Medals, all four received the Combat Action Ribbon. Three Marines: Corporals Benedict E. Bellefeuille (Purple Heart), Joseph H. Hale (both of Atascadero) and Karl Appel (Purple Heart) (San Luis Obispo) landed and fought on the beaches of Iwo Jima; while Lieutenant Thomas M. Coryell (Morro Bay), Gunnery Officer on the battleship USS Washington, provided cover fire for the men on the ground.


In addition to honoring their service, each Veteran signed three Iwo Jima military prints that will be framed with their service pictures in the matting. The prints will be donated to a Military Museum where they will be honored in perpetuity.


These four men are the embodiment of the heroism and sacrifice of the dwindling number of WW II Veterans that are living among us; the guarantors of the liberties and freedoms enshrined in our Bill of Rights



ROTC Awards Ceremony, 2017


The awards ceremony this year was conducted by LTC Louis Stout, USA (Ret).


The MOWW awards are presented to Cal Poly Cadets that demonstrate a continued desire to remain in ROTC, pursue a commission and have excelled in all military and scholastic aspects of the program.


The Sommermeyer Memorial Award is presented to the Cal Poly Cadet of any MS class who displayed a sense of duty and a commitment to the values of the United States Military. This award is presented in honor of Billy Sommermeyer who was honorably discharged from the Army and later succumbed to cancer. 


William Sommermeyer Memorial Award presented to
CDT Spencer Shadley
MOWW Gold Award to CDT Zorna Tat
MOWW Silver awards to CDTMadison
and Bronze award to CDT Wyatt Smith

LTC Louis Stout, USA (Ret,) addressing cadets relative to COL Jack Jones 30 years legacy supporting the Cal Poly ROTC program'




ANZAC DAY Celebration, APRIL 22, 2017


Anzac Day /ˈænzæk/ is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations" and "the contribution and suffering of all those who have served".  Observed on 25 April each year, Anzac Day was originally to honor the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

With the coming of the Second World War, Anzac Day became a day on which to commemorate the lives of Australians and New Zealanders lost in that war as well and in subsequent years. The meaning of the day has been further broadened to include those killed in all the military operations in which the countries have been involved.

Our MOWW companions have been supporting the ceremony for the past several years, and it is much appreciated by the Australians conducting the ceremony (usually on the Saturday preceding the 25th) at the Faces of Freedom Memorial in Atascadero, CA. MOWW companions present today: Lt Ron Janney, CDR Bill Houston, CPT Dick Hathcock, & MAJ Jim Murphy.


Bagpipe entry Opening welcome by Mike Thomas
Flags lowered during moments of silence Commemorative brick being installed by our Mark Greenaway


Homage to all departed veterans by CPT Dick Hathcock Closing prayer by Padre Bill (CDR Bill Houston)


One of the traditions of Anzac Day is the 'gunfire breakfast' (coffee with rum added) which occurs shortly after many dawn ceremonies, and recalls the 'breakfast' taken by many soldiers before facing battle. (Nope, we did not have any!)

Memorial for 1st LT Charles L. Ward, USMC (fmr) and immediate past Commander MOWW
Faces of Freedom Memorial, Atascadero CA March 18, 2017


An excellent venue for the memory of a very special guy who did much for the veterans and for his community

Cpl Tim Haley, CDR (Padre) Bill Houston, USN (ret), and CAPT David Brandmeyer, USMC (fmr) President MOAA was the MC for the program.  Padre Bill giving an invocation.  The memorial event was organized by Cpl Tim Haley, a long time friend and fellow marine of Chuck’s

Whitney Ward with Chuck’s ashes escorted along the Aisle of Flags courtesy of the American Legion Riders

by MAJ Jim Murphy, USMC (ret)

Jerry Boots, member of the Leatherneck Honor Guard,

playing Taps

Leatherneck Honor Guard folding the flag to be presented to the family

MAJ Jim Murphy receiving the folded flag

Whitney receiving the Honor Guard flag from Maj Murphy

Lt(jg) Joe Brocato, USN (fmr) presenting the Bravo Zulu Award to Whitney…for Jobs Well Done Chuck


And the Estrella Warbirds Fly Over



Semper Fi our friend



Armed Forces Day Recognition of Chuck Ward



Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian honored First LT Chuck Ward (San Luis Obispo County) and Staff Sgt Robert Hatch (Santa Barbara County) as Veterans of the Year at the 35th Assembly District's 2016 Sixth Annual Armed Forces Day Celebration on May 21, 2016 at the Maldonado Center in Santa Maria. 

Chuck enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1957.  Chuck is currently Commander of the MOWW, prior President of the MOAA, active in the MCL Detachment 680, has served on the Atascadero City Planning Commission and has been instrumental in making happen a number of community projects.


Chuck’s partial response was: "It's an honor to accept this, because I represent all of you. Thank you so much."


Katcho stated "We honor all those who fought to protect the lives we cherish. Today and every day, we should celebrate the men and women who fight for our freedom. You truly made our country the land of the free and the home of the brave. I want to extend the sincerest of appreciation to our 2016 Veterans of the Year for their services and duty to their country, and each and every single one of you here for making today such a memorable day. On behalf of our nation, thank you for protecting our freedom." 






This was the last of the Trilogy of Tribute Luncheons hosted by the MOWW under the dedicated leadership & organization of Lt(jg) Joe Brocato. This event honoring our Vietnam a Welcome Home Celebration....was very special, as they are very special.


Like last years Tribute to the Korean War Veterans it was again held in the Expo Center of the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. And with the large attendence, the Expo Center fit the bill.



There were 740 attendees consisting of ~240 Vietnam Veterans, 120 WWII and Korean War Veterans, along with 380 family and friends (And as this was only 11 days from the election, many politicans did attend. They are collectively very supportive of our Veteran community). Joe is on the monitors. The Madonna did a very nice job in setting up and serving the luncheon, classy! And it was a tasty lunch with a hearty turkey sandwich, salad, and of pie.


The setup:

Getting ready at the Head Tables The special individual folders that will be handed out to each Veteran


A table and individual montage honoring nine servicemen that did not return from Vietnam
all from San Luis Obispo county




The Opening:


The Head Tables: Joe was the Master of Ceremonies

and kept everyone on track

The Santa Maria Valley Honor Guard for the Presentation of Colors




The Entertainment:


Music by the Cal Poly Brass Quintet, under the direction of Professor Christopher Wooddruff

They also played the medley of Service Songs

The In Time Trio were in fantastic voice and sang a number of period and wartime songs

The crowd was standing for "God Bless America".....WOW





Joe posing with a duo of the trio (George Marrett and Col David Gibson in the background)...and a big smile from all (especially Joe)













The Excellent Speakers:



Padre CDR Bill Houston with his ever appropriate invocation Rabbi Lina Bertenthal with a prayer
Lt Ron Janney describing the MIA Table Congresswoman Lois Capps with some very kind words of the Vandenberg Chapter of the MOWW and especially the contributions of Joe Brocato
Col David Gibson, USAF (ret) is the Vice Commander in Chief of MOWW National. He encouraged all veterans to become involved in a Veteran Service Organization.

Brig. Gen Fred Lopez, USMC (ret) (& Region XIV Commander of MOWW) highlighted our

Mission Statement the MOWW Preamble

Lt Col Ed Cobleigh, USAF (ret) was a pilot during Vietnam and spent many an evening bombing the Ho Chi Minh Trail. (George is in the background) Col George Marrett, USAF (ret) was a pilot during Vietnam flying cover for the helicopters sent in to rescue downed pilots in enemy territory


Both Ed and George really added to the Vietnam they were there. Their talks about their experiences were not only interesting, but also entertaining. They both are residents of the North County and are active in the Warbirds Museum. They are also both very accomplished authors (a point that Ed made to the Vets: write about your experiences in the military for your family. You don't have to be a published author, just record your experience. He also referenced the Veteran Interview program ongoing at the SLO Veterans Museum...sit down for the interview and receive a video copy of your discussion.)


Ed Cobleigh's Books George Marrett's Books

War For the Hell of It: A Fighter Pilot's View of Vietnam


The Pilot: Fighter Planes and Paris


Roland Garros: The first fighter pilot


Cheating Death: Combat Rescues in Vietnam and Laos


Contrails Over the Mojave: The Golden Age of Jet Flight Testing at Edwards Air Force Base


Testing Death: Hughes Aircraft Test Pilots and Cold War Weaponry


Howard Hughes: Aviator (This was made into the movie on Hughes)





The Roll Call of the Vets:


Each Veteran received a personal montage of their service (either at this or prior Tributes) with Certificates of Recognition and a limited edition unique Bronze Sculpture designed by local artist Mark Greenaway


Folders have personalized Service Montage (for Vietnam Vets),

Certificates of Recognition from CA State Assembly, Ca Senate, & Board of Supervisors (SLO & Santa Barbara) for all Vets

Bronze Sculpture was presented to all Veterans






Joe called out each name, the Veteran stood up and the Grizzly Academy Youth did the running to take the booklet and Sculpture to him/her. Thank You Grizzly Members.


A fitting way to end the event. Bravo Zulu Joe.













This luncheon, very capably organized again by Lt(jg) Joe Brocato, was held at the Madonna Expo Center in San Luis Obispo. There were 246 veterans and an additional 340 guests in attendance.






We were pleased and honored to have Lieutenant General David J. Buck, USAF as the Keynote Speaker.  General Buck is the Commander of the 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic), Air Force Space Command; and Commander , Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command, Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA.


General Buck lead off with humorous story but was very complimentary to the attending veterans. One of his quotes: "I want to thank you for leaving us such a proud heritage, a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor". He said he was honored and humbled to be in their presence.






Attendees also included representatives of Congresswoman Lois Capps, CA State assembly (Katcho Achadjian), and CA State senate (Bill Monning). The San Luis Obispo County Supervisors attended along with the District Attorney and mayors of Paso Robles & Atascadero.






The head table consisted of Master of Ceremony Lt(jg) Joseph Brocato, Lt Gen David Buck, Gen Fred Lopez, USMC(ret), and Cal. State Senator Bill Monning.









Entertainment was provided by the Cal Poly band playing National songs and the Medly of Hymns of the Services at the beginning of the program and the Cal Poly Trio (less one) singing some really fantatic songs during lunch. (The duo were called up by Gen Buck and he gave them each a Challenge Coin and a hug for their fine performance.)




Each veteran received a package that included:


A pictorial montage of their service (if the WWII vets did not receive one last year)


Certificates of Recognition from US Congress, CA State Assembly, CA State Senate, and County of San Luis Obispo


A book by Blaine Harden "The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot" a story of the Tyrant creator of North Korea and a young Lt getting his freedom




General Buck with his presentation
The packages were hand delivered by 9 energetic Grizzly Academy Cadets. Here Lt(jg) Joe Brocato calls out a name, the veteran raises his/her hand, and the cadet makes the delivery.

A package delivered by a cadet to WWII veteran

Sgt Bonnie Jones-Meyer U.S. Women's Army Corps.

(Bonnie had received her Montage last year.)


The cadets made 240 deliveries and their support is

much appreciated






The Grizzly Cadets were gentlemen and we pleased have their assistance.












With over 240 people and 105 WWII veterans in attendance, this was a very special recognition luncheon. The event was held at the San Luis Obispo Country Club and each veteran was sponsored by MOWW and MOAA members. Each veteran was individually recognized and presented with a memorable package (scroll down to see the contents of the Recognition Package)..


Guests at the San Luis Obispo Country Club Color Guard presented at the beginning of the program
General Steven Garland with keynote speech, Lt. Joe Brocato looking on Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill, and Lt. Joe at the lecturn
Lt. Joe reading the bio of one of the veterans Grizzly Academy students acted as runners to deliver the recognition package to the veteran identified by Lt. Joe

Recognition package delivered to

Sgt Bonnie Jones-Meyer U.S. Women's Army Corps

Bonnie's son Cory looking on

SLO County Supervisor Debbie Arnold giving a "thank you" to LTC Louis Stout, CDR Bill Houston, and Lt Joe Brocato


       Each WWII veteran was given a recognition package consisting of:


Montage with early photo, Service, dates of service, medals received, theatre, & prepared by Lt. Brocato State of California individual Certificate of Recognition County of San Luis Obispo individual Certificate of Recognition Hard copy of O'Reilly's Killing Patton



to see the A CELEBRATION OF OUR WWII VETERANS half/page tribute to those attending this event published in the November 8, 2014 issue of The Tribune.  (Generously Sponsored by Lt Michael J. Mullahey, USNR (Former) )



Men in the photo: Standing L to R Victor Radwick, Torpedoman 2nd Class & Leo Dumouchelle, Staff Sgt.  Seated: Oliver Hopkins, Seaman & Richard Morris, Sgt 1st Class


Front Page article in The Tribune:


Gathering of SLO County WWII veterans: Stories of war after decades of silence


Vets who are part of an upcoming tribute in SLO are finding it easier to share memories, so many years later


BY PATRICK S. PEMBERTON  October 26, 2014

World War II veteran Richard Morris witnessed people shot down on the battlefield. And when he and his fellow soldiers liberated the infamous Dachau concentration camp, he saw a pile of bodies awaiting cremation. But the memory that bothers him the most, he said, was a train wreck, orchestrated by the Nazis, that killed many of his peers as they slept in boxcars.  “I was exposed to death in an overwhelming way,” said Morris, 89, of San Luis Obispo, who was ordered to pick up body parts and belongings in the aftermath. “I don’t think I ever talked about that to my parents, to my wife, to my kids. I just never talked about that. But within a week, I was deeply depressed. This is what we can do with human beings. That was the beginning of my depression that has lasted my entire life.”

For decades, World War II veterans have been known to stifle their feelings about the war while keeping their memories to themselves. But now, four local World War II veterans told The Tribune, many are beginning to open up, nearly 70 years after the war ended.
“My wife never did know anything about this,” said Navy veteran Oliver Hopkins, a 91-year-old San Luis Obispo man, who was at the D-Day invasion of Normandy. “She knew that I had been there, but she never heard any details at all. Now I’m getting to where I talk about it.”

The men are among the 106 local World War II vets who will attend a sold-out luncheon in their honor at the San Luis Obispo Country Club on Thursday. The luncheon was spearheaded by Joseph Brocato, a San Luis Obispo resident, 1960s-era Navy veteran and commander of the Vandenberg chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars.

“I have a deep feeling in my heart about veterans,” said Brocato, 76, who assembled collages of each vet, which will be displayed during the luncheon. “This has been one of the most satisfying things I’ve done in my life.”

At the luncheon, the vets — whose ages range from 88 to 98 — will be recognized by state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and county Supervisor Adam Hill. But they will also get a chance to talk more about their experiences.

Memories of war

During a meeting at Brocato’s home, the four veterans interviewed by The Tribune quickly began talking to each other about their war experiences.

When Hopkins heard that veteran Victor Radwick had spent his war time on a submarine, he asked, “Did you happen to get headaches?”
When Radwick learned that Hopkins had been at Normandy, he said, “Well, that wasn’t pleasant, was it?”

Of course, the vets feel more at ease talking to each other, and through the decades, they said, many didn’t speak of the war to civilians.
“You don’t want anybody to know what you did,” said Leo Dumouchelle, an Army vet from San Luis Obispo, who’d been at Normandy on D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. “They wouldn’t believe you anyway. And you just kept quiet about it your entire life. Finally, they want to know — but they don’t want to know. Nobody will like you anymore.”  War required quick action that those who weren’t there wouldn’t understand, he said. “If you wait for somebody to pull a gun out and shoot you, you’re dead — it’s all over for you,” said the 92-year-old San Luis Obispo man. “So if I look you in the eye, and it’s questionable, you’re gone. If I look over there and you make a quick move, you’re out of there.”

Vets like Morris saw death in many forms, such as when he was greeted by the concentration camp survivors. At first, the survivors hugged him and thanked him. Then they took him to the ovens, where the Nazis burned the bodies after committing mass murders.
“I looked over, and there was a huge pile of dead bodies,” he said. “And I thought, ‘My god, these people must have the plague and they’re cremating them to kill the germs. ”

Tragedy didn’t always come in expected ways, Hopkins said.  “You expect to see somebody get blowed up or shot at,” he said. “But these guys — real good friends — that get killed accidentally because of their own negligence. … That’s the kind of stuff that hurts.”

The pain lingers

Not all of the death Hopkins witnessed was accidental.  “I did a lot of spotting for them to shoot at, and — ” he paused and wiped his eyes. “Well, the more you talk about it, the more you cry. The memories, you know, and watching these guys die and all that stuff. … ”
When asked why he didn’t talk to his wife about his experiences, he said, “Why in the hell make her life miserable?”  He began talking more about his experiences a year ago, he said, after participating in Honor Flight, a program that flies World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., where they spend time at the World War II Memorial and visit with fellow vets.  “Once you get started on that trip, you realize you really did pay for it,” he said.

During the war, Radwick’s submarine missions were kept secret, something that carried over into service after the war. For years, he would meet with other submarine vets, and they would share experiences. But those reunions have now ended.  “There’s just not enough guys around anymore,” said Radwick, of Nipomo. So, gradually, he began talking to others. “I guess I started talking about it because the submarine service was known as the Silent Service,” said Radwick, who added that his sub sank 13 ships, saved nearly two dozen aviators and once survived an attack of 98 depth charges. “And I figure we kept quiet so long, it was about time somebody knew what the hell we did out there.”

When his son accompanied him on the Honor Flight, he said, he began to understand what Radwick had experienced.  “He, for the first time, is really getting to know what it’s all about, and he’s appreciating it,” said Radwick, 94. “And he’s asking me questions now that he never did before … and I think this is true all around the country.” While going through war isn’t healthy, talking about it is, he said.
“The young people can’t comprehend — they have no idea what it could be like,” he said. “We aren’t bragging or anything like that. You’re letting them know: There’s a reason why you’re here and why everything is the way it is. So it’s good to talk about it.”

Still some secrets

Even with more openness, though, there are some places Morris won’t go. “The only time anybody asked me questions in recent years … they say, ‘Did you kill somebody?’ It’s the one question I don’t want to talk about,” said Morris, who said he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by the Veterans Administration. “But in a way I’m glad our squad actually killed three SS officers. They were coming across a field, and I’m certain they were the officers that ran the Dachau concentration camp.”

To those who weren’t there, the stories are difficult to comprehend. And the vets, whose lives were dramatically different afterward, sometimes feel the same way. “Some of the things you seen then, it’s hard to believe you even seen them now,” Hopkins said. While the worst memories still haunt them, there are also mixed feelings because some of the war experiences were good. “I wanted to see the world, and by god I did,” Hopkins said.

Despite the tension and stress of five war patrols in a confined submarine, Radwick also had fond memories of far-away places, friends he made and fun times he had during leave. “It’s the strange thing about war,” he said. “You run into terrible situations, yet some of it was wonderful.”







Ltjg Joe Brocato paying honor to
Captain Chris Money



Flag presented to Judy Money,
courtesy Central Coast Leatherneck Honor Guard

We were saddened by the passing of our distinguished Companions:


Lt Commander William A. Sommermeyer, USN on 29 April, 2014 Captain Christopher G. Money, USA on 30 April,

and Captain Donald R. Maclaine, USAAC on 7 May.


Lt Commander Sommermeyer and Captain Money were interred with full Military Honors at The Bakersfield National Cemetery and Los Osos Valley Cemetery, Los Osos, CA respectively. Colonel Jack Jones and I officiated at both Memorial Services on behalf of our Chapter and the Order. Plans for the Memorial Services for Captain Maclaine are underway.

We salute our departed Companions for their service to our Country and extend our heartfelt condolences to their families. “… We pay homage to the memories of our departed Companions. May the memory of their service and friendship be enshrined in our hearts forever… Their hands indeed are motionless, their lips are hushed, their bodies returned to dust, but the warmth of their love for their Country can never die.”


       Lt(jg) Joseph E. Brocato, USN (Former), Commander



ROTC Recognition: May 29, 2014


The MOWW and the MOAA in a ceremony at the University of Cal Poly presented respective awards to select cadets for having demonstrated exceptional potential for military leadership as a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps.


Left to Right: COL Jack Jones, Local Officer, CDR Bill Houston, CPT Dick Hathcock, LTJG Joe Brocato,
LTC Lou Stout, COL John Mirolla representing both the MOWW and the MOAA

Ltjg Joe Brocato presenting the certificates to cadets Toby Goldsteinholm ($500), Julia Berry ($300) and Spencer Davis ($200).


(The monetary awards were previously awarded at the Luncheon meeting April 16, 2014)





FACES OF FREEDOM, Memorial Day 2014:


The main address was given by Lt. Chuck Ward.  Chuck's talk was very inspiring and was received with a standing ovation from the crowd.  Chuck's talk is an easy read, click here for a PDF version.


Chuck presenting his memorable remarks The event in Atascadero was well attended


Chuck also gave a presentation on the 4th of July, 2014 at the Faces of Freedom....

click here for Chuck's excellent talk in pdf format.



Member CDR Don Morris USN Presentation in December, 2012:


At a recent meeting of the California Central Coast chapter of the International Footprint Association, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson, left, and Pismo Beach police Chief Jeff Norton, right, congratulate speaker Don Morris.


Don spoke about the competitive nature of basketball's older men. (From 50 to 82). His semi-pro basketball teams competed in AAU Championships and against inmates at California Men's Colony and patients at Atascadero State Hospital.


In the Senior Olympics basketball competitions, Don has won world, international, national and state championships. (He has a killer free throw!)




Results from July 2012-June 2013 Chapter Goals:


a. Increase membership by 5%.The Chapter has 6 new members and that puts the Chapter at 5% increase.

b. Complete “ YOUR AMERICAN HERITAGE MONUMENT PROJECT” BY July 04, 2013.The Chapter completed the project with a dedication ceremony on 02 July, 2013

c. Encourage the membership to participate in the Veteran’s Oral History Project.We are still having Companions volunteer for the interview and are still actively soliciting volunteers.

d. Support and participate in the Cal Poly ROTC Program. The Gold Awards were scheduled for the month of April. We gave three awards, the Gold Senior Award for $500. A Gold Junior Award for $300 and a Gold Sophomore Award for $200. The Chapter has participated in one Commissioning this fall and is scheduled for five in June

e. Attend events in celebration of Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. The Chapter was represented in two Memorial Day ceremonies, the ceremony at the San Luis Obispo Cemetery and the Lost at Sea Ceremony in Cayucos, CA. We will also have a nominee for the Veteran of the Year, hosted by State Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian.

f. Select a Member or Citizen for Member of the Year. The process will be announced at the June 19, 2013 Vandenberg Chapter Meeting

g. Select attendees and support Patriotic Education and Youth Leadership events. May 11, 2013 was the Chapter’s day at the Grizzly Academy and we are seeking nominees from the local High Schools to attend the MOWW Youth Leadership Conference in Thousand Oaks, CA.

h. Bring the Chapter to the Community’s attention though good public relations work.  CMDR Don Morris has been able to have several Vandenberg Chapter pictures published in the local newspaper.  We have had excellent pictorial coverage in the MOWW Officers Review magazine.  Several of our members have been on the local talk radio show and we have received favorable press coverage for the” Your American Heritage Monument” project and the same for the” Lost at Sea” memorial project

i. Conduct monthly Staff meeting for the good of the Chapter.  We have only missed one Ex Com. meeting this year and that was because of a conflict due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.  The EX Com. meets the second Wednesday of every month at the Elks Lodge in SLO.

J. Encourage military uniform wear at monthly meetings.  Your Commander, your Chaplin and the most senior member of the Chapter, CWO3 Gene Friis are always in uniform.

k. Provide positive program for Chapter fund raising.  The book sales and the 50/50 ticket sales have had a positive impact on our finances.  Your American Heritage Monument project, under the leadership of 1LT Chuck Ward, has raised approximately $70,000 to complete the task, and to fund the maintenance of the Memorial, well into the future.  This Memorial will be owned and maintained by the Vandenberg Chapter.

l. Provide representation at the National Convention. The Chapter will be represented in Dallas for the National Convention.



Results from July 2011-June 2012 Chapter Goals:

a. Select a member or Citizen of the year. The first annual members of the year will be given 20 June, 2012 to CMDR William & Mary Houston. Their steadfast support for the Vandenberg Chapter, the county of San Luis Obispo, the Veteran community, and the leadership they given has been noted and admired by our Chapter.

b. Increase membership by 10 %. The Chapter has added three regular members and nine newly Commissioned U.S. Army Officers and thus meeting our goal of a 10 % increase.

c. Join and participate in celebrating Veteran’s Day. The Chapter Commander participated in two events on Veteran’s Day, one in the City of Pismo Beach, CA in the AM and one in San Luis Obispo, CA.

d. Participate in appropriate activities on Memorial Day. The Chapter participated in the Memorial Day ceremony at the San Luis Obispo Cemetery. COL Jack Jones, CMDR William Houston and Chapter Commander CAPT Richard Hathcock had significant roles in the ceremony. In the PM CMDR Houston and CAPT Hathcock participated in the “LOST AT SEA MEMORIAL” in Cayucos, CA.

e. Attend funerals of Companions as the need arises. The Chapter lost two Companions, 2LT Kenneth L Crater USAC, and Mrs. Joy Jones, a well-known Perpetual Member and the spouse of COL Jack Jones past CINC. The Chapter Commander attended Ken Crater’s memorial and a large number of the Vandenberg Companions attended the Memorial for Joy Jones. The Vandenberg Chapter is having a special memorial for Joy Jones at our June meeting.

f. Select Companions to participate in Patriotic Education events. The Chapter held its annual YLC event at the Central Coast Veterans Memorial Museum with students from San Luis Obispo High School and our day long YLC event at the Grizzly Academy, held at Camp San Luis Obispo, CA.

g. Bring the Chapter to the Community’s attention through good public relations work. The Chapter has outstanding news coverage for many of our events, including The General Hoyt S. Vandenberg memorabilia event at the Central Coast Veterans Memorial Museum, dignitary, newspaper and TV coverage. Plus coverage for two Veterans Day events and two Memorial Day events. Our other media coverage has come from our project “YOUR AMERICAN HERITAGE MONUMENT “ with two favorable articles in our local newspaper.

h. Conduct regular Staff meeting, all Companions invited. The Chapter has had a Staff meeting every month, seven days before the regular monthly meeting including the month of June.

I. Encourage military uniform wear at the monthly meetings. The Chapter Commander has worn his uniform to every meeting and other Companions have followed.

j. Provide positive programs for Chapter fund raising. 50/50 drawings and book sales have given the Chapter positive cash flow. The Chapter has begun fund raising for our project “YOUR AMERICAN HERTIAGE MONUMENT “to pay for the $ 60,000 educational project.

k. Provide representation at the National MOWW Convention. COL Jack Jones and CAPT Richard Hathcock will attend the Convention.
The Chapter has had successful year, with many interesting Speakers and we have made The Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award in the Month of May. In the month of June we have attended ROTC Commissioning and Award ceremonies and a dinning in event in May. The Chapter had to Boy Scout Eagle Awarded certificate in June. Our future plans are to implement the Veterans History Project and to motivate the Chapter to fully participate in this project.

The Chapter still has much to do and we have plans to improve our Organization


Airborne, Rangers lead the way.

Chapter Commander

Richard B. Hathcock





Flag special days:


The flag may be displayed every day. On the days listed below it is particularly appropriate to display the flag.

New Year's Day - January 1
Martin Luther King Day - Third Monday in January
Inauguration Day - January 20
Lincoln's Birthday - February 12
Washington's Birthday - Third Monday in February
Easter Sunday (date is variable)
Mother's Day - Second Sunday in May
Peace Officers Memorial Day (half-staff) - May 15
Armed Forces Day - Third Saturday in May
Memorial Day (half-staff until noon) - Last Monday in May
Flag Day - June 14
Father's Day - Third Sunday in June
Independence Day - July 4
  National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day - July 27
Labor Day -- First Monday in September
Patriot Day (half-staff) September 11
Constitution Day - September 17
Gold Star Mothers Day - Last Sunday in September
Firefighters Memorial Day (half-staff) - Sunday before or on October 9th
Columbus Day - Second Monday in October
Navy Day - October 27
Election Day - First Tuesday in November
Veterans Day - November 11
Thanksgiving Day - Fourth Thursday in November
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (half-staff) - December 7
Christmas Day - December 25




        Memorial Day honors those who died in the service of our nation and also those who have passed since serving. 

        Veterans Day honors the living who served

        Armed Forces Day honors those currently serving.



The Chapter is proud to support these 2 very special venues in the North County:

  The Veterans Memorial Museum

Located in the Veterans Memorial Hall
801 Grand Ave, San Luis Obispo, California









The Faces of Freedom Veteran's Memorial
  in Atascadero, California (~15 miles north of San Luis Obispo)


This is a Beautiful Memorial   The Evening Lighting is Very Impressive



MOWW National Convention in San Diego, July, 2012:




CAPT Dick Hathcock USA, CAPT Russell Vowinkel USN, COL Jack Jones USA. Occasion, the Recruiting Excellence Award for the Vandenberg Chapter, 3rd Place Bronze, $750 check with a 7% increase in membership.


Jack Jones received an honorable mention Membership Recruiting Award.




Foreground, LTC Patricia Krause USA, Columbus GA. Chapter, Mary Houston, CMDR Bill Houston USN, COL Jack Jones USA and COL Christopher Smrt USA, Louisville Chapter.   Mary Houston, CMDR Bill Houston USN, CAPT Dick Hathcock USA.






Groundbreaking for the American Heritage Monument, July 2, 2012: (see the monument page)




Shovels Ready   Jack, Dick at full size mockup of one side of the base of the monument, with the actual size of the Declaration of Independence...with Chuck looking on






Veteran's Recognition Luncheon (May 18, 2012):


California State Senator Blakeslee's last luncheon was to honor the 34 “ Fallen Soldiers” of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts from our area as our "Veterans of the Year".  A personalized memorial resolution honoring each fallen soldier from these two conflicts was presented to their respective families (in attendance).  In continuing with his tradition, the Senator also honored our local veterans that have been recognized by each of the local participating veteran organizations. Nominees were presented with a Senate Resolution by the Senator.


Commander Bill Houston giving the Invocation   Commander Houston receiving his Recognition Award


Lt. Chuck Ward receiving his Recognition Award   Chuck with the very nice Award




This may be old "news" but is too memorable to delete.....webmaster


At the George H.W. Bush Library on the campus of Texas
A&M, President Bush is inducted an an MOWW member and Honorary Commander in Chief (CINC). 


From Left to right: Col James Elmer, Past CINC, LTC Alfred Shehab, Past CINC, COL Jack B. Jones, Past CINC and member of the Vandenberg Chapter,  CAPT Rollie Stevens, Past CINC, President George H.W. Bush,  LT GEN  Sam Wetzel, Past CINC of MOWW.