Category Archives: Military

Local World War II nurse writes about her service

Vida Shapanus watched U.S. planes fly through the night to Normandy, France, for the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944.

She was serving as an American military nurse in the British Isles during World War II. Although there were rumors around the base of a U.S. invasion coming, she didn’t know where the planes had been going at the time.

Vida Shapanus, far right, and friends during their World War II deployment in Wales.
Vida Shapanus, far right, and friends during their World War II deployment in Wales.

Two days after D-Day, Vida started treating soldiers from the invasion who had been stabilized in field hospitals and sent to her base in Wales.

Now, the 93-year-old Poulsbo resident is looking to print a book about her military service experience, including the night of D-Day planes.

Vida is searching for a professional editor, graphic artist and publisher to help finish the book, said her oldest daughter, Joanna Shapanus.

Vida grew up in Fresno, California, where she graduated from nursing school in 1943 before joining the Air Force as a nurse. She has lived in Kitsap County since 1990.

She met her husband Tony Shapanus, who died Oct. 20, 1998, during basic training. They kept in contact through letters as friends during the war and started dating once she returned to the states. They have four children, six grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

She was stationed at a rural base made of portable buildings surrounded by farmland in Wales.

“We had livestock wandering through the hospital grounds,” she said.

Once she ran straight into a cow during a night duty.

“I bumped into something big and solid,” she said. “One end mooed at me.”

No lights were allowed on the base at night and only a small flashlight pointed at your feet could be used to move around, she said.

Vida Shapanus, 93
Vida Shapanus, 93

She spent less than two years in the British Isles before coming back to the states to be discharged in January 1946.

While overseas she saw the wreckage of London from Nazi bombing, and rode a French cruise ship refurbished as a military vessel since it had been left behind when Germany invaded France.

Although she kept in contact with several nursing friends she made during the war, all of them have died.

“There aren’t many of us left anymore,” she said.

Flyover could get Seahawk fans even more cranked up

How can The Clink get any louder than the last time the Saints were here, when the 12th Man broke the Guinness world record for crowd noise? Cap it with a flyover.

The Seahawks contacted the Navy and requested just that. I reckon they asked if Naval Air Station Whidbey Island could send an EA-18G Growler down, oh, about when the 12th Man flag is climbing the pole.

A Growler — the electronic warfare version of the Navy’s Super Hornet fighter jet — emits a maximum of 150 decibels. Amazingly, you could’ve hardly heard it over the seismic crowd on Dec. 2. That’s when 68,387 fans combined to reach 137.6 decibels after the Seahawks stuffed New Orleans on a third-down play late in the first half of a 34-7 Monday Night Football victory.

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island spokesman Mike Welding confirmed the Seahawks’ request, which was denied.

The Department of Defense, because of across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, mothballed community outreach programs in March. The military withdrew from 2,800 outreach events around the country. In October it brought back the Navy Blue Angels, Air Force Thunderbirds and other attractions, but not everything. There’s a 45 percent reduction in the number of events from last year that will result in savings of $104 million in fiscal 2014. Flyovers are among those events.

The Air Force typically performed 1,000 flyovers a year, but under the new outreach plan will hardly fly any. There’s no public flyover program at this time. I would think it’s the same way with the Navy, and that’s why the Seahawks’ request was denied. Decisions are made in the Secretary of Defense outreach office.

The Seahawks didn’t contact the Army or Air Force at Joint Base Lewis McChord, according to spokesmen there. But if they were snooping around for a flyover from the Navy, I can’t imagine they gave up at the first rejection.

Can’t wait to see what they came up with.

A Memorial Day soldier’s story

“A lot of guys were killed and more were wounded. After a couple of months in the mountains of Southern France, attacking villages looking for Germans, they pulled us out and sent us to a camp ninety miles south of Paris for rest and recuperation. We rested up, ate well, drank a lot of wine and looked for French girls.”

For our Memorial Day 2013 piece we included a conversation with a Battle of the Bulge survivor.

Diane Lafond Marler sent us a three-page memoir written by her brother, Raymond C. Lafond, another one who survived what would become the battle that helped exhaust Germany’s ability to fight anymore.

Lafond must have written this sometime in 2007. He died in April 2008 at 83. He was living in a Silverdale care facility at the time.

His story not only provides some of the hard details of war, it is also filled with some of the humor you would expect in tales of when boys are forced to become men. Some parts of the boyhood never go away.

Raymond Lafond remembers the Battle of the Bulge by Steven Gardner

VFW to expand veterans memorial on PO waterfront

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Fred Needham Post 2669 has plans to expand its veterans memorial on the Port Orchard waterfront.

On July 4, the post dedicated the Veterans Wall at Marina Park, featuring more than 1,100 tiles honoring service members living and dead. The wall did not have enough space to meet demand for the tiles, said John Weatherill, post commander.

The post has approved an additional wall with 500 memorial bricks and is now taking orders.

The new bricks cost $50 each. Applications are available at the post or on its website, Return to VFW 2669, 736 Bay St., Port Orchard, Wash., 98366.

For more information, call (360) 876-2669 or email

Speaking of SKHS Band and Pearl Harbor

It just keeps getting better for South Kitsap High School Marching Band.

Their tans barely faded from a recent trip to Oahu, where they performed in Pearl Harbor Memorial events, the students were surprised this morning to learn, in an announcement over live radio, that the 143-member ensemble was this year’s $10,000 grand-prize winner of The Rock Wood Fired Pizza and Spirit’s “Schools of the Rock Battle of the Bands,” orchestrated by 102.5 FM KZOK radio and Xfinity.

For the band, the trip to Oahu and the Battle of the Bands prize were the ultimate payoff for years of hard work. The band in 2010 qualified to march in the Rose Bowl Parade, and band director Gary Grams didn’t let it go at that. Some of the current band members are Pasadena alums, but there are many new faces. Grams has brought the new musicians along and kept the bar high.

After making a first recording for the 2011 contest, Grams played it back for his students, talked about how they could improve, and they recorded a second rendition. He then paired some photos of the band from 2010 — including a performance in the Rose Bowl Parade — with the music to make a slide show and sent the entry into the radio station.

“We focused more on the music and less on the video this year,” Grams said.

Grams has posted some photos of the band in Oahu on the school district’s website. Check out this one of a band member and Pearl Harbor survivor.

Courtesy: South Kitsap School District

South Kitsap’s was the only band from Washington State to be invited to participate in the Pearl Harbor 70th Anniversary Memorial. According to the district, 118 students, 4 band directors and 20 other adults traveled to Honolulu for a week of performances and the twilight parade. The band played at Pearl Harbor, visited the Arizona Memorial and practiced at Fort DeRussey Park, “which ended up being a performance with over 200 people sitting on the grass listening to the band practice,” Grams said.

“Besides receiving a history lesson, there were numerous opportunities for the students to learn and gain new insights into the Island/Polynesian culture. A highlight of the trip was a day long excursion to the Polynesian Cultural Center on the windward side of the island.”

And speaking of Pearl Harbor survivors, below is a video showing those from around the nation who made it to Oahu for the commemoration. Before the event, Don Green of Allyn told military reporter Ed Friedrich that he planned to go, so we assume he was among the honorees. The band’s performance is about 12 minutes into the (apparently amateur) video.

Speaking of military families

Tina Moore of Manette is immersed in the military. Her father-in-law, Wes Moore of Bremerton (see below), is a retired Naval commander. Her mother, Connie Kohler, is an major in the Air Force based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma and recently returned from Afghanistan. Her stepfather, Glenn Kohler of Virginia, is a retired Air Force officer. Her father, Bernie Golbeck of Port Orchard, served in Vietnam.

“I am surrounded by the military but never realized it sunk into my almost-3-year-old son until I went to drop him off with his grandparents and saw him saluting the flag as his grandpa raised it up that morning,” Moore said in a email sent with the photo below.

Her mother-in-law, Vicki Moore, said, “Isn’t that the cutest? He salutes the flag every time he’s here when grandpa raises it.”

When Tina dropped Rezyn (it’s an old family name) off on Friday, sure enough he saluted dutifully. Tina snapped away and put the photo on Facebook, where it got many likes and positive comments.

Thanks for sharing, Tina.

Remember, you have until Jan. 15 to nominate a child for Military Child of the Year in a nationwide contest. Rezyn is too young, alas. The contest is open to nominees 8 to 18 years old.

Do you know a candidate for “Military Child of the Year?”

I got this press release today on nominations for 2012 “Military Child of the Year,” a competition sponsored by Operation Homefront.

“Deserving young patriots,” between the ages of 8 and 18 years, can win $5,000. One child from each branch of the service will be chosen. Winners will be flown with a parent or guardian to Washington, D.C., for a recognition ceremony on April 5.

According to the press release, “Ideal candidates for the Military Child of the Year Award demonstrate resilience and strength of character, and thrive in the face of the challenges of military life. They demonstrate leadership within their families and within their communities.”

Nominations are being accepted online until January 15, 2012 at

With our high military presence, Kitsap County would seem fertile ground of candidates for Military Child of the Year. I’d be interested to hear from families about how your children handle the challenges of military life, especially the deployment of a parent. Some days, I expect, just coping with day to day life can take a “heroic” effort on the part of youngsters. I’d also be interested to hear readers’ definitions of “leadership within their families and within their communities.”

Here’s the press release:

SAN ANTONIO – Operation Homefront today announced the opening of the 2012 Military Child of the Year Award nomination period. The award will be given to an outstanding military child from each Service – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The winners, who each will receive $5,000, will be flown with a parent or guardian to Washington, D.C., for special recognition ceremony on April 5, 2012. Nominations are being accepted online until January 15, 2012 at

Ideal candidates for the Military Child of the Year Award demonstrate resilience and strength of character, and thrive in the face of the challenges of military life. They demonstrate leadership within their families and within their communities.

“The sons and daughters of America’s service members learn what patriotism is at a very young age,” said Jim Knotts, chief executive officer, Operation Homefront. “Children in military families understand sacrifice and live with the concept of service. This is what the Military Child of the Year Award honors.”

Nominees must:
Must have valid military ID or currently be enrolled in DEERS
Must be between the ages of 8-18
Must be able to travel to Washington, D.C., for the ceremony on April 5, 2012
Finalists must have a background check to confirm the information provided in the nomination and must provide references.
Recipients of the 2011 awards are profiled in the book “Our Youngest Heroes,” available through

Kitsap Harbor Festival promises fun on both sides of Sinclair Inlet

Proving that we really can all get along, the Port of Bremerton, city of Port Orchard and city of Bremerton will team up over Memorial Day weekend for Kitsap Harbor Festival.

The port is hosting the festival to showcase its marinas on either side of Sinclair Inlet. City governments, chambers of commerce and community groups all have their oars in the water to offer up a boatload of fun.

At the heart of the festivities will be boats: big, small, vintage, military and famous. Scheduled events include a visit from tall ships, boat shows and races, food and entertainment.

Port Orchard is using the festival to roll all its wacky maritime festivities into one weekend, including turning the town over to pirates, a murder mystery contest, a Dingy Derby Race, a seagull wing cooking contest and … the ever lovin’ reason we are Port Orchard, while other, more sane towns are not … the Seagull calling contest on Sunday.

Bremerton’s waterfront will be alive with action, including a Bridge-2-Bridge Run, arts and antique show, Kitsap Car Cruz with live entertainment, scuba demos, tours of an historic Coast Guard vessel and more.

Linking the two fair cities over the weekend will be the Bremerton to Port Orchard foot ferry, operating every 30 minutes from 8:30 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Saturday through Monday. The fare is $2 each way. The port and both cities contract for the service, which is no longer provided on Sundays by Kitsap Transit.

Events are on the Bremerton Boardwalk (B) or Port Orchard waterfront (P), unless otherwise specified. For a complete listing of events, visit the Port of Bremerton’s Kitsap Harbor Festival page.

Saturday, May 28
7 to 10 a.m.: Bremerton Lions Club Pancake Breakfast (B)

8 a.m.: Registration, 4.4-mile Bridge-2-Bridge Run/Walk (run starts
at 9 a.m.) (B)

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Kitsap Arts & Antique Show/4th Street Market (B)

9 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Farmers Market and Pirate Marketfaire (P)

10 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Bremerton Boardwalk Festivities, crafts, merchants, food, scuba demos; remote underwater vehicle demos at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.; beer garden, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Kitsap Library story time, 10:30 to 11 a.m., Carrie Kay, 1 to 1:30 p.m., Northwest Navy Band, 5 to 7 p.m. (B)

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Kitsap Harbor Regatta (both)

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Kitsap Car Cruz (B)

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Murder Mystery Weekend Registration & Clue Gathering (P)

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Bay Street Merchants’ Beer Garden; separate kids’ root beer garden (P)

10 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Historic military vehicle display (B)

10 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Tours of Comanche 202 – Historic U.S Coast Guard Vessel (B)

10 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Tall Ship Tours and Cruises – exact times to be scheduled by ship captain (B)

11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: B.O.O.M Pirates at the Marina Park (P)

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Pirate Costume Contest (adults, kids, pets) (P)

11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Kids’ Pirate Zone (Mermaid Cove) (P)

1 p.m.: Kids’ Pirate Story Time (kids ages 2-5) at the Port Orchard Library (P)

1:30 to 2:30 p.m.: Land Lubbers Pirate Dingy Derby Race (P)

4 p.m.: Free movie (Blackbeard’s Cove) at Port Orchard Library (P)

6:30 p.m.: Pirate Ball at Moon Dogs Too, music by Soulstice, (kids welcome until 8 p.m.)

Sunday, May 29
8 a.m. to 10. a.m.: Pancake Breakfast at Amy’s On The Bay benefiting the South Kitsap Helpline (P)

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Farmers Market and Pirate Marketfaire (P)

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Kitsap Harbor Regatta (both)

10 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Tall Ship Tours and Cruises – exact times to be scheduled by ship captain (P)

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Historic Military Vehicle Display (B)

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Tours of Comanche 202 (B)

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Bremerton Boardwalk Festivities (see above); beer garden 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Kitsap Library Storytime 10:30 to 11 a.m.; Freckles Brown Band, noon to 2 p.m.; freestyle 3 to 5 p.m. (B)

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Bay Street Merchants’ Beer Garden/separate kids’ root beer garden (P)

11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Murder Mystery Weekend continues (P)

11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: B.O.O.M Pirates at the Marina Park (P)

11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Kids’ Pirate Zone (Mermaid Cove) (P)

11:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.: Coroner’s report: Hear the gritty details surroundin’ the murder and piece the mystery together. (P)

Noon to 2 p.m.: 23rd Annual Seagull Calling Contest Contest (P)

Noon to 2 p.m.: “Seagull” Wings Cook-Off (amateur setup at 9 a.m.) (P)

4:30 p.m.: Murder Mystery reveal and cannon show (P)

Monday, May 30
Note: Monday events are held in Bremerton only.

10 a.m. to noon: Memorial Day Service, USS Turner Joy (DD951)

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Bremerton Boardwalk Festivities; 10 to 10:50 a.m., Carrie Kay Patriotic Songs; 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m,. Synergy Dance Company; 1 to 3 p.m., Joey Dean Band

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Tours of Comanche 202, historic Coast Guard vessel

A Vet’s Perspective

In preparation for Thursday’s Veterans’ Day story on Thuong Kien “T.K.” Mac, I contacted Bainbridge Island’s Frederick Scheffler, who served in Vietnam and is currently the adjutant at the island’s Colin Hyde Post 172 of the American Legion.

Mac, a former Vietnamese refugee, wrote in gratitude to soldiers who served in the Vietnam War on our “Your News” site.

Scheffler’s response did not get to me on time for the story, but I wanted to post it here.

I served with the Vietnamese in the Mekong Delta. Reading this man’s account brings back memories of the young Vietnamese soldiers that we recruited and trained. They all had one thing in common and that was a fierce determination to see their country become what they thought America was. America was a beacon and inspired semi-literate farmers to risk death by participating in the national elections in 1967. The vote was something that was precious to them and they were willing to risk the wrath of the local Viet Cong by voting. They were an example that I will never forget. His story is one that has been lived by thousands of Vietnamese who risked everything to come to this country and make a new life. They have demonstrated their dedication to living the American dream and have excelled. When we left Vietnam in 1975 we left a lot of good people. When the North Vietnamese invaded the South in 1975 these people who had been our friends and comrades paid a heavy price.

The Vietnam War was the coming of age for a generation of young Americans. The world has turned many times and Vietnam has changed from when we went there. It has evolved and gone through some terrible growing pains. Although I fought in that war and lost friends, the war we fought was not against the Vietnamese people. My memories of them is not framed by those we fought but rather by the noncombatants, the children are especially memorable . I have a picture on my wall of 20 of them that we brought medical attention to in a small village on a Mekong tributary. Those are the memories of Vietnam that I hold dear. This man’s perseverance and what he has achieved speaks volumes. I wish him and those who made it to the States welcome and remember those who did not in my prayers.

One Man’s Way To Honor The Military

Brynn Grimley writes:

Last year I wrote about Patrick J. Momany of Kingston who calls himself the “Boucanier” of TaTu BBQ — a barbecue hut he has set up along Highway 104 leading into Kingston.

Momany walked 60 miles last September, leaving Poulsbo on Sept. 11 with his Fort Lewis as his final destination. The purpose of his walk was to raise awareness (and money) to support wounded troops overseas. Momany has made four trips to the Army’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany over the past two years. While there he cooks the troops his famous barbecue, bringing a taste of home to wounded troops while they recover.

Well according to a press release Momany sent me earlier this month, he’s walking again. The release states Momany was leaving Poulsbo May 27 with a final destination set for the World War II Memorial in Olympia. His plan was to arrive in time for the American Legion ceremony slated for Monday, May 31.

That’s a total of 75 miles.

Here’s more of what the release said:

All funds raised, if any, will go directly to feeding these troops, both walking or in bed confinement. The BBQ will be held July 4th at the USO Warrior Center, which is dedicated to wounded troops, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany. LRMC is the largest military hospital outside of the US. Almost all wounded troops from Afghanistan and Iraq go through this hospital.

This is the third year in which Mr. Momany has been supporting our wounded overseas and the particular experience which he brings to these outstanding young fighting Americans is a “taste of home” and an opportunity to relax and begin to deal with their injuries more effectively.

View pictures and videos of all Barbecues at A map route is available to view at:

So this Memorial Day as you remember those who have served our country, either in the past or those currently serving, if you feel like supporting Momany’s efforts overseas visit his website where you can donate to his cause. Everything he does, he pays for through donations or out of pocket.

To read the story I wrote about Momany’s walk and his efforts last September, click here.