Post by Category : National D-Day Memorial

Mark Sumner Highlighted in Documentary



The screening will be held at the Seymour Center on Friday, December 18, 2015 from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM (EST). The Seymour Center is located at 2551 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516


Nearly seven decades after landing on the Normandy coastline on June 6, 1944 with the aim to liberate France, two veterans returned to those same beaches. Rather than fighting the entrenched German army, these two 92-year old men found nearly 100,000 waving flags and clapping hands of support. As world leaders took the stage to articulate their appreciation and awe at the achievement of that day, both men sat in wheelchairs squeezing the hands of current servicemen, sharing tokens of faith and thanks, and praising the next generation of young people.


This story follows the efforts and dedication of two generations of young people – the men who fought in service of our country on the beaches of Normandy in 1944, and the students who created the opportunity for them to return 70 years later. Please join us in celebrating this story of unparalleled bravery and service at the debut screening of “Wait Until the Kids See This!”: Service and Learning from North Carolina to Normandy – and how we can transfer these lessons to learning and classrooms today. Attend Event This project was possible due to the generous support of the Oak Foundation.


Sign up now to reserve a seat.  Just click on Attend Event button.


A Soldier Remembers

Mark in France
Click on picture for more photos

Mark Sumner has returned home from a return visit to France to walk along the beaches of Normandy and to return to Bastogne, the site of the Battle of the Bulge.  It was the trip of a lifetime that was 70 years in the making.

You are invited to share in his story and the story of the East Chapel Hill High students and their mentor, Robin McMahon, at a special event on Thursday, June 26th, at the Seymour Center on Homestead Road, Chapel Hill.  The event is from 5 – 7:30 pm.  There will be snacks for everyone as you see a presentation on their trip.  Learn more

This project was a monumental undertaking.  The students raised $10,000 in just six months to take Mark and fellow veteran Ed Chappell (along with their spouses) back to France to attend the 70th and final official commemoration of D-Day at Normandy.  What an accomplishment.

Visit the students’ project website, NC to Normandy, by clicking here.


D-Day 3D on the Raleigh IMAX Screen

D-Day was on 6 June and many of our World War II veterans who participated are gone.  Many of us have known some of them and have heard their stories.  Now we can see a larger than life documentary on an IMAX screen.  Narrated by Tom Brokaw, it is a mission for us to go on.  It is on the screen this week.  Learn more

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Mark Sumner Returns to Normandy

The trip to Normandy and France by East Chapel Hill High School students is on!  The students are escorting two World War II veterans back to France so that they can participate in the final commemoration of D-Day.  It is the 70th and final commemoration.
 “We have thankfully raised all the funds to bring Ed Chappell and Mark Sumner and their family member…we are so excited and have so much information to share!” said, Robin McMahon, project coordinator and former French teacher to the traveling students.  This is their return trip to France for D-Day events.
Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives
Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives

McMahon also announced that the town of Bastogne is going to give them a special medal ceremony at the World War II museum to honor Mark Sumner’s fighting at the Battle of the Bulge!   The travelers will stay with local citizens during their week-long journey.

We commend these dedicated students for their quest to ensure that some living veterans can return to Europe and trace their steps.  From project conception, planning, fundraising and coordination with caring groups in both the local area and France, they did it all.  Congratulations on a “Job Well Done!”  We look forward to their sharing their experience with the post on their return.
Learn more about this student project and to donate toward project expenses, visit:
There are a lot of stories about D-Day and we have lost a lot of our World War II D-Day warriors.  Let’s not forget their bravery and sacrifices.  You can learn more here

Thank You, VFW!  0

We were visited by students from East Chapel Hill High School last month.  They are returning to Normandy for a second visit and a chance to participate in the 70th D-Day Commemoration ceremony at the American Cemetery.  This is the final formal event for the series that has been continuous for 70 years.

donation II
Post Commander Richard Rawling presents a check for $500.

They returned to the post this week to thank us for our support and to receive a check from the post.  The students arrived excited and motivated.  They were surprised about and most appreciative of our Post’s support.

The teens arrived with a bucket of fried chicken and a large sheet cake to say “Thanks.”   They also gave us an update on the status of their project.

They were able to generate funding for travel of each of the six students, raised over $1,500 through a student fundraiser, interviewed a few veterans who are candidates for travel with their group with them as their escort, have contacted other groups for support, and have been working with the French Consulate for additional support.  Ms. Robin McMahan stated that our early support and enthusiastic support made a big difference.  As a veterans group, our financial and moral support helped a lot to create team excitement.

Richard Rawling, Post 9100 Commander, presented the students with a check for $500.

The students also mentioned that they wrote a letter to the editor of the Chapel Hill News (News & Observer).  In part it said,

  • “Thank You, VFW!  We wish to publicly give our thanks to VFW Post 9100 in Chapel Hill.  …  We recently had the privilege of sharing our mission with the VFW Post 9100 C.V. Cummings Post while also learning about some of the sacrifices made by these veterans for our country.  The VFW Post 9100 members also made a very generous financial contribution toward our project, while also sharing their stories and experiences which have helped us get a more robust view of the brave men and women around us.”   It appeared in the March 9, 2014 edition of Chapel Hill News.  Read the complete letter at Chapel Hill News.
Making a difference in our town!
Making a difference in our town!

The students did more than promote their program.  They motivated and encouraged our post members.  Through them, we could see that our efforts within the community are continuing to make a difference.  Our efforts are working and our town is a better place because we–The Veterans of Foreign Wars–are here promoting veterans programs, supporting veterans, and are working to promote patriotism in our town and schools.

Learn more by visiting the students’ project website at:

Chapel Hill Teens Return to Normandy  0

A Chapel Hill Middle School French language teacher brought language to life by taking a group of eighth grade students to France and the beaches of Normandy.  We found out about her project this year as she prepares to take a group of East Chapel Hill High School students back to France for the 70th and final annual commemoration ceremony at the American Cemetery in Normandy.
Students share an evening with Post vets
Students share an evening with Post vets

Here is part of her story as she shared the goals of this year’s project.  “I am a middle school teacher in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who has traveled to the American Cemetery in Normandy with thirty students since 2009. My students stay with families in Liege, Belgium, but an important piece of history, sacrifice and honor, is best learned when they walk Omaha Beach, visit the American Cemetery, and imagine the effects of war at Pointe du Hoc.  While in Belgium, my students also visit Henri Chapelle  and discuss the impact of WWII in French with their host families.

A group of six students, who are now juniors in high school ( 17 years old), would like to return to Normandy and volunteer to help with the 70th D-Day celebration. They are students who traveled with me in 2011 and who have a deep interest in honoring our veterans. These incredible young people  have had relatives and close friends fight in WWII and another hopes to be a history teacher and travel abroad with students.  All these students are doing very well in school, have achieved numerous honors and speak French well. Would you have any opportunities for them to volunteer for this event?” Robin McMahon,French teacher/ Smith Middle School, Chapel Hill, NC.
The students were invited to our post dinner meeting in February and they were greeted and welcomed by veterans from all conflicts going back to World War II.  They met an Iwo Jima survivor, an Army Scout from the the Battle of the Bulge, Korean War vets, Vietnam Vets, Iraqi Freedom vets and more.  They shared their project and our vets shared some of their experiences, life stories, and what they do now.  They were eager listeners and so were we.
Our army scout  and Battle of the Bulge survivor is Mark Sumner.  Mark was awarded the French Legion of Honour in 2008.  He is also a candidate to join the students as their guest to France where he will be able to attend the commemorative ceremonies.  The students are raising funds so that they can take several D-Day participants with them, to include some veterans who fought in France.
These students, and their teacher, touched our hearts and we were honored to be able to assist them with their project.  We donated $500, but we also decided to assist them as they reached out to local businesses and citizens as they told their story and sought financial support.
We will follow the students as they prepare for their journey, travel in France, and create their stories and presentations on return.  We are very proud of these young students.  We hope you are, too.  For more information and to contribute, visit their website at:

Local Students to Attend 70th D-Day Celebration  0

Local high school students are planning on a visit to Europe to visit the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-mer.  Six amazing teenagers are working toward an invitation to volunteer at the 70th D-Day celebration.  They are also hopeful to have local World War II veterans join them on their journey.  They know that these veterans would also like to travel to the 70th D-Day celebration, but might hesitate to travel alone.
DDay landingThrough class events, the students have met and been inspired by these brave veterans who have since passed: Robert Patton, Vince Norako, and Tony Marimpietri.  They heard what it was like to have the Allied soldiers liberate Paris from Chantal Shafrock, who was a teen in Paris at that time.
Since 2009 about 30 students have traveled to the American Cemetery in Normandy.  They stayed with families in Liege, Belgium, but an important piece of history, sacrifice and honor was experienced when they walked Omaha Beach, visited the American Cemetery and imagined the effects of war at Pointe du Hoc.
This year’s group of six students, who are now juniors in high school (17 years old), would like to return to Normandy and volunteer to help with the 70th D-Day celebration. They are students who traveled  in 2011 and who have a deep interest in honoring our veterans. These incredible young people  have had relatives and close friends fight in World War II and another hopes to be a history teacher and travel abroad with students.  All are doing very well in school, have achieved numerous honors, and speak French well.
C. V. Cummings Chapel Hill Post 6 is proud of these students and their teacher, Ms. Robin McMahon.  They exemplify what the Veterans of Foreign Wars members looks for to recognize local students and educators who perform patriotic service in our community.  We will be following the students’ quest as they continue to work on the details of this year’s planned trip and wish them well as they wait on the official invitation to this years historic 70th D-Day celebration.
Here is a UNC-TV video on a recent class trip to France.
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Bravo Zulu  0

Bravo Zulu is but one of the many signals made at sea from fleet and squadron commanders.  It means “Well Done.”  Navy signalmen hoisted the two signal flags or flashed the message between ships to be passed from ship to ship on the high seas.  This is how messages were transmitted long before  high-speed communications and when stealth or silence was necessary.  One such day was D-Day and Signalman Third Class Bruce Martindale, a then recent graduate of Chapel Hill High School found himself  signaling on a communications ship off the coast of Normandy.   His memories of that action and his part in the invasion is now a book, A Naval Signalman During World War II.

Signalman bookBruce Martindale recalls, “The plan was for the marines to be inland by the second day, but they were still in the process of trying to get off the beach they had gone in on. Word was received that we would start our invasion at 8:30 in the morning. As anyone can imagine, anticipation and anxiety were at their peak the night of the sixteenth. We could hear big guns and rockets firing all around, and the night sky was lit like day.”

Copies of his book is a must for military historians and navy veterans and are available from comrade Ed Gill.  You can pick up a copy at our regularly scheduled monthly meeting.  Cost for local veterans is just $8.00 and proceeds will go directly to Bruce Martindale.  Learn more

Bruce Martindale has returned to and now resides in Chapel Hill.

Learn more about U.S. Navy Signal Flags.

Chapel Hill Teacher of the Year (9-12)  0

Tom Stanfa

Tom Stanfa, English Honors teacher at Chapel Hill High School, was selected earlier this year as our Post’s nominee for Veterans of Foreign Wars National Teacher of the Year (grades 9-12).  He went on to win District 6 competition and in January won the North Carolina State Competition.  His nomination is now at VFW National competing against candidates from every state, plus VFW Europe, VFW Caribbean,  and VFW Pacific.  Learn more

Tom Stanfa is a quiet man who makes a huge difference where it counts; with our youth.  In a period where there is a race to complete assignments or to learn how to pass a test, he immerses his students in the books they read.  Selected class projects for reading are read to be understood, to be felt, and to come to life.  One such project was with the selection of The Bedford Boys: One Small Town’s Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice.

It was the tale of  a depression era  farming community of 3,200.  It told of young men who joined the National Guard to earn $1 a week for drill pay.  They banded together as a unit and met on Monday nights.  It was fun, but there were unintended consequences.  World War II broke out and, just like with Iraq and Afghanistan, local National Guard units were mobilized and sent to war.  On D-Day, on Omaha Beach, they all landed together, but 19 perished.  It was the largest loss by a town on a single day in the United States.  What was their story?  Who were these men?  Tom Stanfa’s kids found out.

Jerry Pilarski at memorial with Gracian and Squires

You can tell if a teacher is having a positive impact by the actions of the students away from their classroom.  One of  Tom’s students, Garcian D’Cruz, a 10th grader, stood out in our community doing a church youth project to benefit the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia.  Gracian had visited the memorial on an earlier Chapel Hill High School field trip related to the study of  The Bedford Boys: One Small Town’s Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice. He was moved by the memorial and the World War II veterans he met.

He was also saddened when he learned of their financial plight. He told his story to other members of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle 5485 of the Columbian Squires at St. Thomas More Catholic Church.  Garcian and his Squires raised $1,500 for the memorial.  He also gained the notice of the Memorial and they invited Tom Stanfa, Garcian D’Cruz, and the Squires to the 65th Anniversary event at the memorial.  Not only were they invited, they were asked to speak in a keynote speech to generate enthusiasm before the passing of the hat for donations.

Jerry Pilarski, the Heavlins, and Gene and Louise Drogos of our post  joined them for this event.    We watched them stand with government and  local civic leaders, a Medal of Honor recipient, and other dignitaries, as they spoke of the importance of the memorial and why they raised the money.  Their speeches set the tone for the annual collection of donations for the memorial.  We came home very proud of what Tom and his students accomplished.  It was our Chapel Hill youth, miles from home, that were making a patriotic difference where it really counted.  Learn more

In October 2011, the English Honors students and other students in the Academy of Information Technology at Chapel Hill High School premiered a video of their two-year  journey of study on The Bedford Boys.  It was clear that everyone involved in its research and production took the project very seriously.    Learn more

We, at Post 9100, are proud to have been a part of the nominating process that recognizes greatness in our teachers.  We were also very honored to nominate Tom Stanfa as a Chapel Hill Hometown Hero.  He was selected by Ron Stutts, WCHL 1360 AM, as the February 2nd, 2012, Village Pride Award winner.  Tom, in addition to five 3-minute news spots today, will be honored at the 2013 Annual Village Pride Award Luncheon.  Play award story