Sunday, June 23, 2019

Bikers from veterans group killed are identified

Randolph, New Hampshire, USA (June 23, 2019) VRI — The seven bikers from a Massachusetts veterans group who died in Friday’s devastating crash in New Hampshire were named Sunday afternoon.

A 42-year-old woman from Concord and a 62-year-old man from Contoocook were among the seven motorcyclists killed in a collision with a pick-up truck hauling a trailer in Randolph on Friday.


Desma Oakes of Concord was a supporter of the motorcycle group Marine JarHeads Motorcycle Club, Deputy Attorney General Jane Young said in a press conference Sunday. Michael Ferazzi of Contoocook was a member of the group, Young said.

Related | 7 Dead after truck slams into Marines MC members

Other New Hampshire bikers killed in the collision included Albert Mazza, 49, of Lee and Aaron Perry, 45 of Farmington. Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, R.I. and a couple, Joanne and Edward Corr, both 58, of Lakeville, Mass. were also killed. Young said the Corrs were riding on the same motorcycle at the time of the crash.

Young said each of the bikers, all members or supporters of the JarHeads Motorcycle Club, died as a result of blunt trauma. Two other bikers were injured during the crash; Joshua Morin, 45 of Dalton, Mass., who is in stable condition at Maine Medical Center and Steven Lewis, 58 of Brimfield, Mass. who has since been released from an area hospital, Young said.

Law enforcement are still investigating the circumstances of the crash.

Authorities have identified the pickup driver as Volodoymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, an employee of a Springfield, Mass., company called Westfield Transport. Young would not say whether any charges have been filed against Zhukovskyy or whether he was injured in the crash. He did survive the crash, law enforcement said Friday.

“That is all the information that we can provide at this time,” Young said Sunday. “The investigation remains active and ongoing.”

Zhukovskyy’s 2016 Dodge 2500 pickup truck towing a flatbed trailer of the kind used to haul cars collided with the bikers around 6:30 p.m. Friday on U.S. 2, a two-lane highway in Randolph, police said. Randolph is about a two-hour drive north of Concord, the capital, and a three-hour drive from Boston.

When the road reopened Saturday, skid marks were still visible on the road. Young said State Police, local and federal authorities were still at the scene of the crash Sunday afternoon.

SOURCE: Concord Monitor 
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Saturday, June 22, 2019

7 Dead after truck slams into Marines MC members

Randolph, New Hampshire, USA (June 22, 2019) VRI — A pickup truck in rural New Hampshire struck and killed seven on motorcycles Friday night. The crash ignited a small fire in a nearby wooded area and left a wreckage of damaged vehicles and the bodies of victims strewn across the highway.

State police said a Dodge pickup truck hit the group of motorcycles around 6:30 p.m. Friday along U.S. 2 in Randolph.

Photo provided by: Miranda Thompson

Authorities are still investigating what caused the deadly collision. Police have not released the names of the victims or the pickup driver, who witnesses said survived the incident.

"It's tragic," New Hampshire State Police Capt. Chris Vetter told reporters Friday night. "Our concern right now is with the victims, the victims' families and anybody else who was adversely affected by this accident," he said.

Police said two other motorcyclists were injured and one person was airlifted to an area hospital after the crash on the two-lane highway. The riders were members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, which comprises active and veteran Marines.

They were on their way to a bike gathering in northern New Hampshire, said Charlie St. Clair, executive director of Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, a large motorcycle gathering that ended last weekend.

"I can't emphasize enough how horrific this is," St. Clair told NPR. "It's our worst nightmare."

Beatrice Engstrand, a neurologist who was a first responder to the scene, told NPR the crash site looked "horrible."

Photo provided by: Miranda Thompson

Engstrand was staying at a nearby bed-and-breakfast, when the owner pounded on her door and said a doctor was urgently needed outside of the inn.

When she rushed out, she saw a devastating scene.

"At least three bikers were thrown into the woods and there were flames over 20 feet high," Engstrand said. "The motorcycles were all chopped up all over the roads and there were bodies everywhere and people crying."

Engstrand put tourniquets on some of the injured and applied compression with towels and belts to bloody wounds and performed triage before emergency responders arrived.

Photo provided by: Miranda Thompson

Randolph is about a two-hour drive north of Concord, the state's capital.

St. Clair, the motorcycle event organizer, was not on the scene, but said since the collision, he's been fielding a flood of calls from people in the biking community.


He said he cannot recall any motorcycle accident in New Hampshire that involved this many fatalities.

St. Clair said the section of U.S. 2 where the collision occurred does not have rumble strips, which warn drivers that they are veering onto the highway's shoulder.

"There are now some reasonable questions about having them," St. Clair said. "Maybe if they were there, some lives could have been saved."

There is a GoFundMe page set up if you would like to contribute, link is HERE

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Monday, June 10, 2019

The olive-green jacket traveled around the world

Greenwood, IN (June 10, 2019) VRI — Originally assigned to Bob Brunnemer while he was serving in Guam, Japan and China with the U.S. Marine Corps, it had come home with him to central Indiana in 1949. The coat had been stored away, eventually given to a neighbor child to serve as part of a Halloween costume.

Brunnemer never saw it again, until a man in Norway sent a photograph of it to Brunnemer's son, Bobby, hoping to find its true owner.

"It's amazing. How did this happen? Is someone smiling down on me?" Bobby Brunnemer said. "You always wonder about fate, 'what if?' The fact that I acknowledged the message, opened it up, it's amazing."

World War II veteran Robert Brunnemer looks through items in a restored foot locker on Thursday, May 23, 2019, at his Greenwood, Ind., home. (Scott Roberson/The Daily Journal via AP)

The intrepid research of that Norwegian man, Eirik Oftedal, will result in the jacket being returned to the U.S. Oftedal has restored the item, complete with military ribbons, patches and other insignias, and intends to mail it in time for Bob Brunnemer's 92nd birthday on July 6.

For Oftedal, being able to return the jacket is a small way to honor the veteran and all of the Marines who fought in World War II.

"It means very much for me to be able to re-unite the uniform to Mr. Brunnemer and his family. This uniform belongs to the Brunnemer family with all his history that I'm sure will be told to the next generations in the future," he said in a text message.

Bob Brunnemer grew up on the southside of Indianapolis, graduating from Southport High School. In April 1945, he enlisted for the Marine Corps. He was shipped to boot camp in North Carolina at Camp Lejuene, and spent three months in outdoor training in South Carolina.

By this time, World War II had essentially ended. But troops were still needed in the Pacific region, and Bob Brunnemer served in Guam, Japan and China, driving a 2 1/2-ton truck, pulling howitzers and transporting prisoners of war.

"I just did what they told me," Bob Brunnemer said. "I was all over the place with them."

He served for four years before returning to Indiana, where he worked for the William H. Block Co. He and his wife, Ginnie, have been married nearly 72 years, and live in Greenwood Village South.

Bob Brunnemer is still proud of his service. He has held on to a collection of items from his service. He kept his military ID and driver's license in his billfold until recently. His dog tags were on his keychain. He had his own footlocker, which had been given to him during basic training. He had kept the box the entire time he was in the military, and eventually, painted it green to give to his son as a toy box.

As a gift to his father, Bobby Brunnemer had the box restored and refinished by Wood Gallery in Indianapolis, with a carved wooden plaque inside bearing the Marine Corps logo. A padded tray allowed for a place to store medals and military documents from his service, photo albums and his old duffel bag from the Marines.

"I brought it home with me. You're not supposed to leave with them, but I did," Bob Brunnemer said. "He did a great job with it."

Bob Brunnemer's background connected with Oftedal, himself a military veteran. He serves in the Norwegian Army's royal guard, the Hans Majestet Kongens Garde. In addition, he is an enthusiastic collector of historic military items, specifically the World War II and Korean War eras. Foremost among the items he collects are those associated with the Marine Corps.

“It’s something special to have a piece of history like that in your hands,” he said. “(U.S. Marine Corps) items I think are the greatest with its history fighting some of the hardest battles around the world from Belleau Wood, Pacific islands, Chosin Reservoir and Fallujah.”

Oftedal found Brunnemer's jacket on eBay, coming from a seller in Canada. Though the jacket had no patches, he could see that it did have a name on it, and that there had been a diamond-shaped patch on the shoulder — like the kind the 1st Marine Division had worn.

He paid the seller $35 for the jacket, and when it arrived, went to work trying to track down who it had belonged to.

"This is what's really thrilling with (Marine Corps) items: They are often named and there are good records to find out what unit they were in and where they got deployed," he said.

Using genealogy websites such as Findagrave.com and Ancestry.com, Oftedal started researching. But it was a simple Google search that bore success. He found Bob Brunnemer’s Facebook page and sent a private message in the hopes that it was the right person.

The attempt was one-in-a-million, Oftedal said. But it turned out to be correct.

Bob Brunnemer was skeptical at first, wondering what this message was all about, but confirming that Robert Brunnemer was his father and that he was in the Marine Corps.

"I was suspicious at first. But as soon as I read it, it was obviously genuine," he said.

That started a months-long process as the two traded messages and information, with Oftedal explaining that he wanted to try to restore the old jacket.

Oftedal shared other interesting facts as he discovered more about the jacket. Inside the pockets, he found two old tickets to the Indiana Theater in downtown Indianapolis. Robert Brunnemer surmised that he had gone to the movies on dates with Ginnie.

Eventually, he offered to restore it and send it back to Bob Brunnemer as a gift.

"The uniform belongs to the (Marine) who earned himself the Eagle, Globe and Anchor," Oftedal said in a text exchange with Bobby Brunnemer.

Bobby Brunnemer was also able to piece together his father's memories about the jacket. As far as they can tell, he had allowed neighborhood kids to borrow some of his old military gear for Halloween costumes, and they must have forgotten to give them back.

The fact that it's coming back is unbelievable.

"It about blowed me over when he said they had it," Bob Brunnemer said.

After eight months, Oftedal has finished the jacket. He expects to have it sent to the U.S. in time for Bob Brunnemer's birthday. The entire experience has been very rewarding from his perspective, and he's happy to be able to connect with a veteran so far away.

“I’m very thankful to (Bobby) for taking his time helping me researching and asking his father when I had questions. I hope Mr. Brunnemer will have a super 92nd birthday and the uniform will get there in time for the celebration,” he said.

SOURCE: Marine Corps Times
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Sunday, June 9, 2019

Veterans get new health care provider

Indianapolis, IN (June 9, 2019) VRI – Indiana University Health says it has been approved as a Veterans Affairs-authorized urgent care provider. The health system says being part of the VA community care network will allow its six urgent care centers to offer care for veterans without prior authorization.

The ability for IU Health to offer the expanded coverage for veterans comes under the Mission Act, which was approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump last year.

Melissa Cash, regional administrator for IU Health Urgent Care, tells Inside INdiana Business the health system wanted to be a part of this effort to give back to Hoosier veterans.

"We wanted to be able to offer this service not only to our veterans locally here, but veterans who also are maybe moving to our location in Indiana, maybe relocating here. We can also allow services for them as well," said Cash. "You hear a lot about the medical access and decreasing their wait times to get medical treatment. We wanted to make sure that we were a big part of that initiative and that mission, which is exactly what this Mission Act is, is to get act to our veterans who have served our country and make sure that they get the care they need in a timely manner."

Cash says veterans can walk into an urgent care facility and the receptionist will call to verify eligibility. To be eligible, a veteran has to have been seen at a VA facility within the past 24 months. Veterans will have access to treatment for non-emergent issues, such as the flu, strep throat, and ear or skin infections, among others. They will also be able to receive diagnostic x-ray and lab services, as well as urgent medication prescriptions.

IU Health has urgent care centers in Bloomington, Brownsburg, Greenwood, Indianapolis, Lawrence, and Noblesville. A seventh location in Fort Wayne is expected to open later this summer.

Cash says the health system wanted to be a part of this effort to give back to Hoosier veterans.

SOURCE: Inside Indiana Business
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