The Watchifre Page of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Central New York Chapter 103 Web Site

The Watchifre Page of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Central New York Chapter 103 Web Site Email VVA, Chapter 103

  Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 103 Memorial Day Watchfire  

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VVA Chapter 103 Annual Memorial Watchfire

A photograph of the VVA, Chapter 103, Watchfire pyre taken during the 2017 Memorial Watchfire.

Memorial Watchfire 2018

(The VVA 103 Annual Memorial Watchfire is a rain or shine event.)

Watchfire 2018 is scheduled for Sunday, May 27th, 2018 in the Veterans Memorial Watchfire Park, New York State Fairgrounds, Syracuse, NY.

An image of a scanable QR code also hyperlinked to a Google map of the location of the VVA, Chapter 103 Memorial Watchfire at the NYS Fairgrounds. For a "Google" turn-by-turn driving map to the Watchfire location, click/tap on the QR code image, or scan the image using a QR code reading smart-device.

For a direct entry GPS device: Latitude 430433 N, Longitude 761259 W

The Watchfire stems from the military tradition that following a battle or long march, a large fire would be started so those missing or lost could locate and rejoin their comrades. Using that time honored model symbolically, we use the warmth and light of our Watchfire to guide everyone to join us in reflection of those comrades who have gone before us and made our nation strong through their service and sacrifice.

VVA Chapter 103 uses the Watchfire and accompanying ceremony to make Memorial Day more meaningful for everyone in the community. We invite Veterans and Non-Veterans to gather at the Watchfire to honor those who have so faithfully served the nation.

The 1995 Watchfire honored the American Veterans of World Wars I, II and Korea. In 1996 we dedicated the event to the Gold Star Mothers. The 1997 event was dedicated to honor Women in Service. Please help us to ensure that Memorial Day does not pass without a suitable remembrance of the women who have served and are serving the nation. The years following 1997 have been dedicated to all United States of America Veterans.

Come join us at the Watchfire to make Memorial Day an event that honors all those who have served and given their all for our way of life.

The Watchfire also allows VVA Chapter 103 to provide the community with an opportunity to respectfully retire unserviceable American Flags. You are encouraged to bring tattered, worn or faded American Flags for respectful burning on the pyre.

The Watchfire 2017 Thank-You List

The efforts and generosity of many individuals, businesses and organizations are required to stage the VVA, Chapter 103 Watchfire. Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 103, under the guidance of President, Gordy Lane, and Vice President, Dan DiFlorio, would like to thank the following for their generous support and untiring efforts:

The event Chairmen, Bill Martin and Pete Bronstad, and the whole Watchfire Committee without whom this event would not take place every year.

Dick Madden for his ability to be the Watchfire Master of Ceremonies.

The volunteers and especially the many volunteers who built the fire that helped with making this event possible. Especially the Carpenters Union whose membership came and volunteered their time and expertise along with other trade members especially Marty from the Carpenters Union. He is the principal foreman for the build.

The members of Chapter 103 who volunteered and worked extremely hard to make this Watchfire available to the community free.

This year we would like to thank Russ Oakes for being our one-man security force this weekend. Thanks Russ. Semper Fi!

The volunteers in the tent selling for our products. All proceeds go toward continuing the Watchfire Program.

The management and staff of the Onondaga County, NY Public Library System. The OCPL collected and delivered more than 1,500 flags.

Our thanks go out to The Great New York State Fair who every year allows us to use the Watchfire Park. Show them our support by attending the other great events that the Fair puts on all year around.

A special thanks to Governor Cuomo for his special decree that all NY State Offices would collect and bring flags to the Watchfire for retirement. We received seven-hundred American flags.

We would like to recognize Eric Hesse, the Commissioner of the New York Division of Veterans Affairs for his first visit to the Watchfire.

Thanks to the Solvay and Taunton Fire Departments for standing by for the event. We must have a fire service in attendance during the event.

A photograph depicting the Village of Solvay and Taunton Fire Departments displaying the American Flag between ladder trucks.

Syracuse Mayor, Stephanie Miner, and the Commissioner of the Parks and Recreation Staff in making the stage available and providing a cherry picker for fuel to be placed on the fire.

Thanks to Tom Pirro and Thomas J. Pirro, Jr. Funeral Home and Woodlawn Cemetery and Mausoleums and Steve Sloan for their generous donation that made the 2017 Watchfire viable.

A photograph of the advertisment banner of the Thomas J. Pirro, Jr. Funeral Home during the 2017 Memorial Watchfire. A photograph of the advertisement banner of the Woodlawn Cemetery of Syracuse, New York.

Thanks for the sound system from National Audio, and Mark Hummer and Jeff Moleski so that we could adequately hear the event.

The Doctor Tom Dooley Chorale, who did beautiful renditions of a Military Services Medley and God Bless America.

A photo of the Doctor Tom Dooley Chorale performing during the 2017 Memorial Watchfire.

The a cappella singers, "NoXcuse," who sang the National Anthem. They have great range and the National Anthem is not easy to sing, but they hit it out of the park.

A photograph of NoXcuse a cappella singers performing during the 2017 Memorial Watchfire.

Dale Bloss and the Syracuse Scottish Pipers, who played the bag pipes and drums so beautifully. Their Amazing Grace was in fact gloriously amazing and for the other played from the heart music.

A photograph of the Syracuse Scottish Pipers performing during the 2017 Memorial Watchfire.

Professor Louie and the Chromatics, for their music so perfectly performed and Dinosaur Radio 103FM DJ, Nick Caplan, for making it possible.

A photograph of the Professor Louie and the Chromatics performing during the 2017 Memorial Watchfire.

Thanks to Jeff Stockham for his rendition of Taps on an authentic Civil War military bugle.

A photograph of Mr. Jeff Stockham playing Taps on a Civil War era military bugle during the 2017 Memorial Watchfire.

A special thanks to Home Depot for donations of material needed to safely build the fire.

Dan Boscoe and his staff for making the food and providing beverages for this event even with all the flooding.

Our ice cream vendor Cruisin Cones for their time and cooling treats.

We thank our greatest supporter DJ, Nick Caplan, and "Dinosaur Radio" 95.3 – 103.9 FM for giving us free airtime to promote this event and the fine music and direction he provided at the fire.

A photograph of the Dinosaur Radio equipment van during the 2017 Memorial Watchfire.

Twin Trees Pizza of Baldwinsville for giving us the best pizza ever.

VVA, Chapter 103 Chaplain, Greg Robinson, for his inspirational invocation.

Thanks to VVA 103 member, Keith Zinsmeyer, the Watchfire fuel guy.

Charlie Johnson, for his small, but very loud ceremonial cannon.

Thanks to Onondaga County Sheriff, Eugene J. Conway, and the OCSD Air-1 aircrew for the helicopter flyovers and static display.

A photograph of Air 1, the helicopter of the Onondaga Sheriff's Department on static display during the 2017 Memorial Watchfire.

Thanks to Brandi of Inspirational face painting who does beautiful work with her creations.

In gratitude to ABATE for assisting in the Motorcycle run and donation, and to Manny Falcone for organizing the motorcycle run and for his donation.

A photograph of VVA 103 President, Gordie Lane receiving donations of the ABATE motorcycle group and Mr. Manny Falcone during the 2017 Memorial Watchfire.

The Veterans Administration Medical Center and the Vet Center for sponsoring a tent and bringing out the Mobile Vet Center. Along with an opportunity to help and counsel vets at the Watchfire and everyday. It is what they do best in helping the Veteran Community.

Thanks to everyone for making the Watchfire the premier Memorial Day Weekend event. The Watchfire is the largest gathering of Veterans on Memorial Day week end and showing the community that there are still people who can respectfully remember those who gave their all so that we can be free.

Thanks to Clear Path for Veterans for helping build the fire and for serving our veterans daily through their many and excellent programs.

We wish to note that Paul Dufault passed away last week. Paul worked for years helping not-for-profits raise money through his 50/50 sales. He worked relentlessly for fire and EMS departments across Onondaga County as well as the Watchfire. Goodbye Paul.

Lastly because it is Memorial Day all of us should thank those men and women serving and have served their country that protect our freedoms every day and kept us safe for over two centuries.

Stay well, stay safe and we will see you all next year.

Watchfire 2017 Photographs

Mouse-Over a thumbnail to display an enlargement.

Photos © 2017, F.L. Brough, Sr.

Watchfire 2017 Panoramic Photos

Click on a panoramic thumbnail below to open an enlargement. Click on the enlargement to enlarge a second time. Use the browser horizontal scroll bar to view the photo from end to end. The browser back-button returns here.

Click on this thumbnail to display the first full-size Watchfire panoramic photograph.

Click on this thumbnail to display the second full-size Watchfire panoramic photograph.

Photos © 2017, F.L. Brough, Sr.

Video Slide Shows of Watchfires 2009 through 2011

Watchfire 2009Watchfire 2010
Watchfire 2011Flags of Watchfires

The Veterans Memorial Watchfire Park

An aerial photograph of the New York State Fairgrounds showing the location of the Memorial Day Watchfire.

Click here for terrestrial map view, satellite photo view, and driving directions.

Vietnam Veterans
of America
Chapter 103
P.O. Box 675
Liverpool, NY 13088

The Emblem of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 103

An image of The Vietnam Service Ribbon

An image of The Defense P O W / M I A Accounting Agency emblem.

An image of The P O W / M I A Flag