Who We Are
Founded in 1978, Vietnam Veterans of America is the only national Vietnam veterans organization congressionally chartered and exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA is organized as a not-for-profit corporation and is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue Service Code
VVA’S FOUNDING PRINCIPLE
“Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”
VVA’s goals are to promote and support the full range of issues important to Vietnam veterans, to create a new identity for this generation of veterans, and to change public perception of Vietnam veterans.
- Over 65,000 individual members
- 48 state councils
- 650 local chapters
- Aggressively advocate on issues important to veterans
Seek full access to quality health care for veterans
- Identify the full range of disabling injuries and illnesses incurred during military service
- Hold government agencies accountable for following laws mandating veterans health care
- Create a positive public perception of Vietnam veterans
- Seek the fullest possible accounting of America’s POW/MIAsvva
- Support the next generation of America’s war veteranServe our communities
Vietnam Veterans Of America
8719 Colesville Rd., Suite 100
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
Toll Free: 1-800-882-1316
Major Louis Fulda Guillermin, USAF
Over 25 years ago in 1988, Vietnam Veterans of America, Louis F Guillermin Chapter 436 was chartered in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The chapter wanted a namesake of someone who was missing in action in the Vietnam War. To our knowledge, Major Louis Fulda Guillermin, USAF was the first MIA in our county.
This is his story
Louis joined the Air Force as an Aviation Cadet. He received his pilots training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Louis received further training in radar and celestial navigation instruction at Connelly Air Force Base in Texas. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and awarded his silver wings in April 1964.
He was sent to Vietnam for a tour of duty. He flew counter insurgency missions as a navigator in an A-26A Invader aircraft, converted from a World War II B-26 – a fast twin-engine bomber. The B-26 was redesigned after World War ll for counterinsurgency warfare, its armament updated, and rechristened the A-26A. The aircraft could remain on station for a long time, searching out and attacking an enemy concealed by jungle in the night or bad weather in Southeast Asia
On April 30, 1968, Maj. Louis Fulda Guillermin disappeared over Laos while navigating an A-26A aircraft. This was a night mission to disrupt supply deliveries on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Maj. Guillermin and his pilot, Lt. Col. Robert Pietsch, went down in Savannakhet Province, Laos-about ten miles east of the city of Ban Muong Sen. This was his second tour in South East Asia and It was his first flight since returning from R&R in Hawaii. He was 25 years old. For the pilot of the plane, 31-year-old Robert Pietsch of Pittsburgh, it was to be his last flight before moving to a desk job.
When no bodies could be recovered they were declared Missing in Action in 1973. Louis rose through the ranks to major while on MIA status.
It was roughly 20 years ago when his plane was found, but even then, no one was positive that he had been killed. Within a few kilometers of where his plane went down, there were 20 other crashes as well. No evidence was found other than some bone fragments, which were too charred to retrieve any DNA. In addition, there was still unexploded ordnance, which had to be taken care of before any search for other remains could begin.
Once they could begin excavation, larger bones were found along with Guillermin’s dog tags. Nothing was ever found of the pilot, Robert Pietsch. The remains were taken to a lab in Hawaii where a test was performed using mitochondrial DNA from the bones and samples from the major’s with his remains recovered, Major Guillermin was declared accounted for on 28 May 2013.
Louis’ remains were flown, in a full casket, from Honolulu to Philadelphia International Airport on Friday 4 Oct 2013. At the airport there was a dignified transfer conducted by the U.S. Air Force to the funeral director, Edward L. Collins Funeral Home, 86 Pine Street, Oxford.
In addition to his family and the United States Air Force Honor Guard from Dover Air Force Base, Major Guillermin was met by Members of VVA436, the Warriors Watch Riders (WWR), A Hero’s Welcome, The American Legion Riders, Units of the Pennsylvania State Police, Chester County Sheriffs Office, The Philadelphia Police Department and hundreds of onlookers. With Police, WWR, American Legion and VVA 436 escorts, the hearse was escorted to the Collins Funeral Home in Oxford. ABC Channel 6 made television Coverage.
On Saturday, 5 Oct 2013, services began at the Collins Funeral Home with visitation from 9:00AM until 10:00 AM followed by a short ceremony.
The funeral procession proceeded to the Glenwood Memorial Cemetery in Broomall, PA. Hundreds of flags around the funeral home in Oxford. Leading the procession was approximately 100 motorcycle units from WWR. As the funeral preceded through West Chester, his hometown, and past West Chester University, his alma mater, dozens op people lined the streets. As the hearse proceeded down Rout1, flag-draped fire trucks, with lights flashing were on nearly every overpass. Citizens and veterans waived flags and saluted.
At the Glenwood Memorial Cemetery, members of the United States Air Force Dover Air Base Honor Guard provided full military honors. This included 21 gun salute, taps and presentation of the flag to the widow and family members by United States Air Force Brigadier General Tony Carrelli.
Participating in the procession and the burial services was Vietnam Veterans of America, Louis F. Guillermin Memorial Chapter436, Chester County, PA, A Hero’s Welcome, Warriors Watch Riders, The American Legion, The Veterans of Foreign Wars, State and Federal Military officials, Chester County Sheriff, State Police, many other local police and fire units, and all Veterans and others interested in showing love for the supreme sacrifice of Louis while serving our country in South East Asia.
Maj. Guillermin was buried next to his parents.
A little history most people will never know.
Interesting Veterans Statistics off the Vietnam Memorial Wall
There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including those added in 2010.
The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized. It is hard to believe it is 57 years since the first casualty.
The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass. Listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.
There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.
39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger.
8,283 were just 19 years old.
The largest age group, 33,103 were 18 years old.
12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.
5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.
One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.
997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam ..
1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam ..
31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.
Thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons.
54 soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia . I wonder why so many from one school.
8 Women are on the Wall, Nursing the wounded.
244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 153 of them are on the Wall.
Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons.
West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.
The Marines of Morenci – They led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest . And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci’s mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home.
The Buddies of Midvale – LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale, Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went to Vietnam . In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.
The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 – 2,415 casualties were incurred.
- For most Americans who read this they will only see the numbers that the Vietnam War created.
- To those of us who survived the war, and to the families of those who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain that these numbers created. We are, until we too pass away, haunted with these numbers, because they were our friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters.
- There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.