“You just go to get drunk…”
By Garland Davis
The words in the title were said to me by a neighbor in 2016 before I left Honolulu for the Westpac’rs reunion in Branson. And yes, we did have a “few” drinks. But it wasn’t all about drinking beer (there were moonshine and other potables.) There was also reconnecting with our shipmates and myriad sea stories all “no shitters” told and laughed about, often into the wee hours of the night.
There were fundraising activities that raised money to support the Fisher house foundation which provides housing for families of wounded service men and women. We collected and donated $4,500 to that fine organization. The following letter was received from Fisher House in acknowledgment of our contribution:
7/12/2017 1:00:40 PM
Asia Sailor Westpac’rs Association
You are an essential part of making it possible for us to honor and serve our nation’s heroes—and we simply could not fulfill our mission without your support. Thank you for your organization’s gift of $4,500.00.
For more than 25 years, the Fisher House program has been committed to providing “a home away from home” for military and veterans’ families while their loved ones receive vital medical care far from where they live. Because of your support, up to 970 families can call Fisher House home on any given night.
Thanks to your generosity, we continue to expand the network of Fisher Houses. As of spring 2017, there are 72 Fisher Houses in operation and several more under construction. Looking to the future, we are committed to constructing Fisher Houses in communities where they are needed most. Our current priority is to build at VA hospitals around the country, ensuring care for our veterans now, and for decades to come.
We know that there are many organizations deserving of your support, and feel an immense responsibility to be good stewards of the gift you have entrusted to us. In 2016, the Foundation received its 13th consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, as well as an A+ rating from CharityWatch.
Your support has touched the lives of so many brave men, women, and children facing a medical crisis. To hear more stories about Fisher House families, please visit www.fisherhouse.org.
Thank you for joining us in our mission.
David A. Coker
Fisher House Foundation
111 Rockville Pike, Suite 420
Rockville, MD 20850-5168
The Asia Sailor Westpac’rs also lends support to the poorest students of the Wat Sa School – Pak Ohanan, Nakhon Si Thamarat, Thailand. Our shipmate and fellow Asia Sailor, Lee Thayer, a retired STGC, and his wife Rrayada, live near the Wat Sa school and yearly dispense collected funds to the poorest among the students and buy needed items to support the teachers of the school. These funds allow the students to purchase and maintain the required school uniforms and to buy needed school supplies.
At the 2017 reunion, we raised $1,650, $350 of which was raised by our resident Airdale, Warren Barker with his Brown Shoe Bloody Mary Bar, another $1,100 was received from members who prefer to remain anonymous and Lee added $250 to bring the total to $3000 for the year.
The following are photos of Lee, Rrayada and some of the students and parents at the 2017 hand over of funds.
I would like to thank my shipmates for their generosity and express my pride in the Asia Sailor Westpac’rs Association. And a heartfelt Bravo Zulu to Lee Thayer who even wears long pants once a year for the “Handover Ceremony.” It is an honor to call him Shipmate!
The key players in the Westpac’rs Association’s success are Dave and Kathy McAllister. They live in Branson and have taken on the task of making arrangements and coordinating the annual reunions. They deserve a hearty Bravo Zulu for all they do. A pair of great shipmates.
But the majority of the credit goes to the one hundred plus attendees of the reunion and their participation in the events that made it possible for the Association to contribute to Fisher House and the Wat Sa School.