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

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  Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 103 Memorial Day Watchfire  

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VVA Chapter 103 Memorial Day Watchfire 2016

The next Watchfire is scheduled for Sunday, May 29th, 2016 in the Veterans Memorial Watchfire Park, New York State Fairgrounds, Syracuse, NY. (See annotated aerial photograph at page end).

The Watchfire ceremony and lighting of the pyre commence at dusk, but do go earlier to get a good spot! Food and drink vendors will be on-site.

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 2015 Thank-You List

The efforts and generosity of many individuals, businesses and organizations are required to stage the Watchfire. VVA Chapter 103, and Chapter President, Gordy Lane, would like to thank the following for their untiring support and efforts:

The membership of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 103 and Vice President, Dan DiFlorio, and the Vietnam Veterans of CNY Foundation for funding the event, the Event Chairs, Bill Martin and Pete Bronstad, and the Watchfire Committee without whom this event would not take place.

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

The many volunteers who built the fire which made this event possible - especially the Carpenters Union and other trades members who volunteered time and expertise.

The members of Chapter 103 and a special thanks to Keith Zinsmeyer, the fuel guy, who volunteered and worked extremely hard to make this Watchfire available to the community.

We would like to thank Russ Oakes for being our one-man security force this weekend. He saw to the peoples needs in being there at the Watchfire for the whole weekend. Russ helped the visitors and the building team by organizing the drop-offs of material and flags. Thanks Russ. Semper fi!

The volunteers in the tent who sold our products. All proceeds go toward continuing the Watchfire Program.

Thanks to Charlie Johnson for his small cannon with the loud report.

Our thanks go out to The Great New York State Fair which 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.

Thanks to the Taunton Fire Department for standing by for the event. No fire service in attendance - no fire.

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

Manny Falcone and a large group of motorcycle riders for their generous donation to VVA Chapter 103.

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

Our National Anthem singer, Ms. Walsh. She has great range, and the National Anthem is not easy to sing right, but Ms. Walsh hit it out of the park.

Dale Bloss and the Scottish Kiltie Pipers who played the bag pipes and drums so beautifully.

Dan Boscoe and his staff for making the food and providing beverages for this event.

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

We thank greatest supporter Dinosaur Radio and DJ Nick Caplan for giving us free air time to promote the event and the fine music and commentary.

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

The Veterans Administration Medical Center and the Vet Center for bringing the motor home and staff to create an opportunity to help and counsel vets - not just during the Watchfire, but everyday helping the Veteran Community.

Thanks to everyone for attending and making the Watchfire the premier Memorial Day weekend event, and showing the community that there are still people who can respectfully remember those who gave 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 excellent programs.

Lastly because it is Memorial Day we thank those men and women who are serving and have served their country that protect our freedoms kept us safe for over two centuries.

Stay safe and we hope to see you again next year.

Watchfire 2015 Photographs

Mouse-Over a thumbnail to display that photograph full-size.

Photos © 2015, F.L. Brough, Sr.

Watchfire 2015 Panoramic Photos

Click on a panoramic thumbnail to open an enlargement. Click on that enlargement to enlarge a second time. Use the browser vertical and horizontal scroll bars to position and move the photo. Use the browser back-button to return here.

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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.

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

Photos © 2015, F.L. Brough, Sr.

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

The Emblem of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 103

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


Videos 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.