May 29, 2023

2023 Memorial Day Information

The annual Memorial Day ceremony is co-hosted yearly by VVMF and the National Park Service to pay tribute to members of America’s armed forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam and in all conflicts.

May 29, 2023

Keynote Speaker

Colonel (Retired) Dennis “Bud” Traynor 

Colonel (Retired) Dennis “Bud” Traynor retired from the Air Force in 1995 after a varied and distinguished career culminating as the Commander of the Field Operating Agency, Air Force Flight Standards Agency at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.

He previously was Deputy Commander of the Air Force Combat Operations Staff (the Air force Command Post) in the Pentagon; taught Combined Air Warfare at the Air Force War College and was the Director for Combat Employment, Center for Aerospace Doctrine Research and Education (CADRE/ED); ran WINTEX, the largest multi-national NATO exercise program at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Belgium; worked current operations at the US European Command in Stuttgart, Germany; produced pilot retention studies for Headquarters Military Airlift Command; and was Aide to Commander, Twenty-Second Air Force.

Bud’s first operational mission in January of 1969, was to fly to Saigon, Vietnam, in a C-133 Cargomaster from Dover AFB.  Later, in 1971, he was reassigned to Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam, to fly C-7A STOL aircraft in support of forward deployed troops all over South Vietnam, routinely flying into very short runways that were sometimes only wide spots in a road.  When troops were withdrawn in 1972, he was reassigned to Travis AFB to fly the massive new C-5A Galaxy.

Bud Traynor’s last mission into Vietnam was as the aircraft commander of C-5A Galaxy 80218, the ill-fated aircraft that on April 4, 1975, crashed shortly after takeoff while airlifting orphan children out of Vietnam during the fall of Saigon.   Rear-ramp lock failure precipitated a rapid decompression and loss of all flight controls except the right aileron, and set the stage for a crash landing in fallow rice fields near Saigon.  Miraculously, there were 176 survivors of the crash, most of whom are living in the US today.  Sadly, many did not survive; there are 11 of his crew listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, “The Wall.”

He is a Command Pilot with Vietnam combat experience in C-133A Cargomaster, C-7A Caribou and C-5A Galaxy aircraft.  He is a recipient of the Air Force Cross, the nation’s second-highest award after the Medal of Honor.

Bud currently lives in Fairfax, Virginia with his wife, Pamela.  They have two sons, one in Palmdale, California, and one in Charlotte, North Carolina.

May 29, 2023

Featured Women’s Memorial Speaker

Susan Kramer O’Neill

Susan Kramer O’Neill was born and raised in Indiana. She is a veteran of three Army hospitals in Viet Nam, where she served as an Operating Room nurse for 13 months in 1969 and 1970:

22nd Surgical Hospital, Phu Bai, May-August 1969

27th Surgical Hospital, Chu Lai, August-November 1969

12th Evac Hospital, Cu Chi, November 1969-June 1970

During the many years since then, O’Neill and her husband Paul—whom she met in Cu Chi—raised three children and moved more than a dozen times, mostly in New England (plus a stint in the Peace Corps in Venezuela, 1973-74). She’s worked in hospitals, nursing homes, as an instructor in a nursing lab, and as a lounge singer. She also earned a BA in Journalism, and has been a reporter for weekly newspapers, a PR flak in a public library, and a children’s storyteller.

She now lives in Brooklyn with Paul, and freelances as a writer, editor, and author mentor. She is the author of two books: Don’t Mean Nothing, a collection of short fiction loosely based on her hitch in Viet Nam (Ballantine Books, Black Swan UK, UMass Press, and currently available in paperback and E-reader by Serving House Books), and Calling New Delhi for Free, a slim volume of brief, mostly-humorous essays (Peace Corps Writers Books).