VVA 862 "Honor Wagon"
John Wakeley’s idea of “Honor Wagon’ becomes reality
AVVA 862 member John Wakeley works up at Greater Pgh Airport in Airport Operations. John is always
watching things that go on around him. Mind you now, John had (2) two tours with the U S Army, so he
had no other way to look at this other then being a Veteran himself. One day he noticed one of our local
KIA’s being removed from an airplane which got his attention. Curiosity got the best of him. He wanted to see
how they did it. Since September 11th 2001, the hearses are not allowed on the ramp anymore to pick up the
caskets. Now John is glued to watching the baggage handlers and the removal of this casket. He watch them
take it and place it on the baggage cart, as he worded it, “like a Set of Golf Clubs” He goes on to explain that
the baggage carts are not the cleanest. After John watched all this, with Blood beginning to boil, he felt that
something needed to be done. He went back and talked it over with another co-worker Mark Chamoditz. Mark
talked to people at the Airport Authority office and convinced them to donate a baggage cart for refurbishing.
John sat down with Paper & Pencil and started drawing up some ideas.
On August 21st, John walked into our VVA 862 BOD meeting and explained everything that goes on
at the airport any time the remains of one of our fallen heroes comes home and how they were handled. He
explained his idea and showed sample pictures of what he’d like to see on it. He explained that he’d already
got a cart donated and wanted to know if any of our guys wanted to take this project on. Rich Kamzelski &
Rich Tindell decided to do this project themselves. After more discussion, our BOD voted to approve $1,000
to get this cart started. They went and picked the cart up and took it to Kamm’s garage where they began to
start on it. Larry Googins and Jerry Fisher happened to be up at Hall Industries talking to them about the Veterans
Bridge and the cart came up in the conversation. The fellow at Hall Industries told them, you know we
take care of all them carts at the airport. We’d be willing to help you with your project. Well. The rest is history.
As you can see by the picture, with the businesses that did the work, it came out absolutely perfect.
“Special Thanks” goes out to the following businesses. Signs by Sam, Pfaff Custom Welding LLC, the
Airport Authority, Beachem’s Sandblasting Service and Hall Industries from the Franklin Twp / Ellwood
City area. We also found out that Harold Hall (founder of the business) is also a veteran.
Rich Kamzelski stated that, what was hard to believe was that most of the businesses who worked on
the wagon donated everything. Hall Industries completed the refurbishing Free of charge.
John Wakeley has come up with several ideas through the years but nothing as strong as this. With the
VVA Logo on it and Our VVA Motto
“Never again Will One Generation of Veterans Abandon Another”
this “Honor Wagon” will last a long time after we are gone.
You will see all 5 Branches of the
Services and Pennsylvania National
Guard has also been added.
Hopefully some other cities will see
this and do the same thing.
to all who worked on this.
It is “Greatly appreciated”.
(click on the titles of the articles)
Some of our Older activities from previous years are listed below.
VVA 862 received a monetary donation from a local ice cream shop owner over the Memorial Day holiday in May 2001.
The Beaver County Riverfest on August 21, 2001 featured a "Duck Race" from VVA 862.
The residents of the Darlington area have dedicated a new memorial to servicemen and women.
The Moving Wall & The "Wall That Heals" - 2014
The "Moving Wall" was brought in 2002 & 2008, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, on display in Beaver, PA in September 2002. Once again in September 2008 VVA Chapter 862 brought the "Moving Wall" back to Beaver County. We set it up in the exact same place in the Irvine Park in Beaver behind our Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Because of the demand, We were only allowed to have it on display for 4 days. Those were 4 very special days here in Beaver County. Once again, Several Vietnam Veterans and their families walked past the Moving Wall all hours of the day. You may not think we had visitors in the middle of the night, but we had many. Sunday night we were treated to a severe thunderstorm with the high winds. Several Trees had blown down. Power outages took place all over Beaver County including the town of Beaver. The "Moving Wall" never went with out lights on it. VVA members Donald Miller and Pastor Bill Henry pulled their vehicles up on the grass (put their headlights on) and kept their motors running all night long to keep lights on the "Moving Wall". "Yes" as you can see, We do have "Special Veterans" here in Beaver County, Pa.
The "Wall That Heals" was brought in September 24th thru 28th in 2014. We also had an assortment of Military Vehicles parked across the street. Again we had the Ten of Honor & Tent of Memory. 24 hour Security and Wall Guides to help with the finding of Names on the Wall for those coming thru. We also had members come and assist us from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC.
This was probably one of the best displays we have ever had.
Thank You to all helped with the different committees. This was a complete success!