Our History

THE BEGINNING OF THE
GUADALCANAL CAMPAIGN VETERANS ASSOCIATION

I was asked by our present President Gordon Morgan if I would like to give a brief preview of the beginning of the Guadalcanal Campaign Veterans Association, of the facts and the events that had taken place during its formation that led a few of us at that time to begin what we have today.

It has been a long road to what the GCV stands for today, it is the results of many man hours, and the willingness to carry on the memories by so many men who wanted to be with their comrades again.

I will endeavor to try to remember some of the events in the beginning as to why we wanted to organize a unit to share our memories for the future.

In l970, Mr. Johnny Johnson, a former U.S. Navy Man, wanted to get together many of the veterans of the Guadalcanal Campaign, who had participated in the action in the occupation of Guadalcanal from August 7, l942 until the end of hostilities in February of l943.

This was to be composed of all the Armed Forces, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and the Sea Bees throughout every state in the USA.

Mr. Johnson had at first, placed an ad into the Norfolk Newspaper, requesting that veterans who had participated in the action to contact him regarding the implementation of a unit by a group of veterans who wanted to be together again, and who have not seen each other for many years.

In doing so, Mr. Johnson received many inquiries as to how they could help in getting organized.

At Mr. Johnson invitation, a group of 12 men at first contacted Mr. Johnson, and a meeting was to be held in Norfolk, Virginia, at the Golden Triangle Hotel.  It was the beginning of several discussions as to how and when we could get more veterans interested in forming a unit of veterans of theGuadalcanal Campaign.

Of the first visit of the 12 men, they decided that more meetings were necessary, and that more veterans should be notify that we intended to have an organization.

We met several times at the home of Mr. Johnson, and tried to outline a plan as to what course of action to take in obtaining more veterans.  Again, a news release was made once again to several newspapers throughout the country, in which we received many letters requesting more information.

Another meeting was held at the Golden Triangle in Norfolk, Virginia with many more veterans who came to offer their services, and with fresh ideas in mind in order to get started.   Approximately 30 men came to the meeting, and many have not seen each other for many years.  It was there and then that we all decided to form a unit.

An election of staff officers was the first  order of business, and the men at the meeting voted to have the following members be the guiding light in the building of the GVC:

President........................................Michael Zello
Vice President...............................Jasper Brown
Secretary ......................................Will Lewis
Treasurer......................................Tom Swean

We started out by asking the existing members at that time that since we did not have any money in the treasury, that all future members would be asked to contribute some money to defray the expense of buying stamps and envelopes and typing paper so that we could mail out to those veterans who were asking for further information regarding the joining of the GCV.

Since no money was in the treasury, many of the members contributed money from their personal funds in order that we could notify all those interested.

In many of the letters that were sent out, we also ask the veterans if they could contribute to the expense that we have incurred in order that many other veterans could be notified on what we were doing.

We have had many letters and donations from many of the veterans, which prompt us to further increase our notification to many states throughout theUSA. We contacted many newspaper offices and many of the editors had placed ads in their paper free of charge to help in informing those veterans that wanted to belong.

We were flooded with inquiries, and donations were coming in, and many contributed $5, 10, and 20 dollars which we were able to send more information out to veterans, and to save some for any future financial obligation that was to be needed.

It was rather difficult at first, and I must say this without any hesitation, that our Secretary Will Lewis and his wife Dot, had put many hours of their time in keeping records those members who wanted to join.

My wife Jeannette and a few of our friends met at the home of Will Lewis, and licked many stamps and stuffed envelopes for many hours.

I must say this with the greatest affection, the women who helped in putting in so many hours of their time, have shown us that they were just as much involved, as if they were on the island themselves.

Needless to say, we had our first convention in Norfolk, Virginia in 1972, in which at that time we had approximately 200 members and their wives from many of the states.

The reunion was great, and many tears were shed on the meeting of so many of the members, which we will never forget.

Our reunion was conducted by the Chairman, who was appointed Neal (Doc) Kinney, who was great in making sure we all had plenty to drink and eat.

We had as guests the Mayor of Norfolk, and a retired two star General who came to offer their support.

We again held another reunion in l975 in Norfolk, Virginia, where I had relinquish my duties as President, and that a new president was elected along with new staff officers.

This reunion was also great, and at that time, the new president decided to charter the organization in Virginia, so that we could be eligible for any legal transaction, and for any donations to be made, and to be classified as a non-profit unit.

I am enclosing a copy of the first copy of a news letter that was made by our new president, which was also sent to many of the existing members, this was written by the president at that time, who was also the editor.

As I looked back into the beginning, it was worth every effort on my part, and those who have put so many hours of their time, which played an important role, and I want to greatly acknowledge all of those members who have given of themselves go help in keeping the tradition of the GCV in all the years before and in the future.

At one time, if my memory serves me correctly, in the years ahead, I was told that we had reached over 5000 members, and at every reunion and convention, we always had in excess of over 400 men and their wives.

To all members and staff officers, I can only say WELL DONE.

Many members have since passed on to a better world, and I hope that they looked upon us, saying “We will see you all again. We all know also, that they all helped in keeping of what we all believe in.

IT’S NOT THE COST OF BELONGING . . . IT’S THE PRICE YOU PAID TO BELONG.

GOD BLESS THOSE IN THE PAST, AND IN THE FUTURE.

PAST PRESIDENT
MIKE ZELLO
         

Comments