Christmas Dinner Held For Vietnam Veterans, Chapter 203

  • Saturday, December 9, 2023
  • Earl Freudenberg

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus made a surprise visit Friday night to the annual Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 203, Christmas dinner. The event was held this year at the Ridgedale Baptist Church's Family Life Center.

Vietnam Veterans look forward to the holiday event every year - a turkey and ham dinner with plenty of desserts. Some 250 veterans and their families were in attendance.

Special guests included Hamilton County Commissioner Jeff Eversole and his wife Denise, Retired Major General Bill Raines, Chattanooga Funeral Home Vice President Stephen Pike and radio personality Ted Gocke, who provided the entertainment.

General Raines presented the chapter’s honor guard with special commemorative coins from Medal of Honor recipient CPT. Larry Taylor. CPT Taylor, a member of chapter 203, received the Medal of Honor from President Joe Biden at the White House last September.

Master Sergeant William W. Gardner, a 28-year service member and Vietnam veteran, attended the dinner along with his wife Barbara, granddaughter, three-year-old Jhenei and other family members. Mr. Gardner served in both the Army and Air Force.

General Raines also greeted Edward and Lori Krekeler from Trenton, Ga. Mr. Krekeler served as an armored training officer in Nuremberg, West Germany in the late 60’s. General Raines thanked the officer for helping prepare armored tank personnel for Vietnam.

Chapter 203 President Hobbs said it was very rare, but most of his family was present to enjoy the dinner prepared by Rick Hall of Home Folks Restaurant.

After the meal and entertainment by J103 radio broadcaster Gocke, Santa and Mrs. Claus made a surprise entrance handing out gifts to the children.

VVA Chapter 203 is the second largest in the United States and meets the third Monday of every month at the MAC Building, McCallie and Holtzclaw Avenues. Membership is open to any Vietnam veteran or a vet who served in the Vietnam era.

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