The Pennsylvania Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) installed its officers for the 2019-20 program year during the organization’s recent State Convention in Erie. These line officers will provide leadership and direction for the PA VFW, which consists of 74,100 members who served in combat zones and United Nation peacekeeping theaters.
Valencia resident Wayne D. Perry was elected as State VFW Commander. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1963-1967 on a destroyer in charge of the ship’s armory. He earned the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal— which was awarded for his duty in the Dominican Republic and which earned him VFW eligibility—the National Defense Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
Commander Perry is a VFW Gold Life Legacy Member. He is a past Chaplain and past Commander of Post 499, past Commander of Post 7505, and past Commander for the State VFW’s District 25 covering Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties. At the State VFW level, he was a co-chairman for Internal Affairs Committee and an advisor to District Commanders. His service to the VFW has included earning All-State Honors as a Post Commander and being recognized as an honorable District Commander. He earned recognition from the VFW’s National Headquarters for his outstanding service to the VFW including on the National VFW’s Resolutions Committee. Perry received the National VFW designation of Aide-de-Camp and Assistant Inspector General.
He has been involved in youth sports programs, church leadership and the Mars Fire Company, where he served as president and as a fire policeman. Commander Perry is also a member of the Military Order of Cooties, the American Legion and Kiwanis Club, a life member of the Mars Volunteer Fire Department, a charter member of the Adams Area Fire District, a member of the Butler County Fire Police, and a member of the Pennsylvania Fire Police.
Bradford resident Ronald J. Peters was elected as the Department’s State Senior Vice Commander, which puts him on course for serving as the Pennsylvania VFW’s State Commander for the organization’s 2020-21 program year.
He has held many leadership positions at the local Post, regional District and State VFW levels. Peters served as an armor reconnaissance specialist with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He earned the Combat Infantry Badge, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 Device and the National Defense Service Medal.
Whitehall resident Nathaniel Smith was elected as the Department of Pennsylvania VFW’s State Junior Vice Commander, which puts him on course for serving as the Pennsylvania VFW’s State Commander for the organization’s 2021-22 program year. His VFW involvement has included serving on the State VFW’s Sergeant-at-Arms unit, as a VFW membership recruiter and in leadership positions at the local and district levels.
He served in the U.S. Navy for more than 20 years—including nearly 12 of those years on sea service duty— reaching the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer. He received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon four times, the Meritorious Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal five times, the Navy Achievement Medal three times, as well as many other decorations. He recently retired from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as the State’s top boiler inspector.
Ephrata resident John B. Getz, Jr., a past State VFW Commander, was re-elected as State Quartermaster and reappointed to serve as State Adjutant of the Department. Getz is a Legacy Life member of Post 3376 who has served honorably at all levels of VFW leadership.
Getz has served on the national level including as a member of the National Service Committee, National General Resolution Committee, National By-Laws Committee and National Finance and Internal Affairs Committee. Getz served honorably in the U.S. Army in Vietnam during 1967-1968 and earned the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
Drexel Hill resident Frank McGovern of Post 3460 was re-elected State Judge Advocate. He is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran who serves as a Major in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard at the Joint Force Headquarters, Ft. Indiantown Gap, Annville. He earned his undergraduate, master’s in business and law degrees from Widener University. He also holds a degree from the London School of Economics.
McGovern completed many military education programs including the Command and General Staff College, and the Airborne and Air Assault Schools. His overseas military service includes deploying with the Guard’s 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team to Tikrit, Iraq, in 2008-09. In 2003-04, he deployed to Iraq with the Army Reserves’ 358th Civil Affairs Brigade, a unit he also served with in Al Hillah, Iraq, during 2003.
Johnstown resident Nelson Lowes of Post 6743 was re-elected as the VFW’s State Surgeon. Nelson earned his VFW eligibility through his service in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War (1967-68). He earned the Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm (Unit Citation), National Defense Service Medal, six Good Conduct Medals, two Overseas Service Bars and the Army Commendation Medal. He retired from the Army after 22 years of service.
As VFW State Surgeon, he visits all VA medical hospitals and State Veterans Homes in the Commonwealth to review how veterans are cared for in these facilities. He also interviews patients and residents to get their opinions about how they are treated. In addition, Nelson is also co-chairman of the Pennsylvania VFW’s Legislative Committee. In that role, he speaks with federal lawmakers to discuss veterans’ legislative priorities. He is also a member of the National VFW Legislative Committee and has held leadership positions at the Post and District levels.
Langhorne resident Peter Hook of Post 6393 was re-elected as the State Chaplain. His service to the VFW also includes serving as the VFW’s National Chaplain a few years ago. In 2012, he was named an honorary National VFW Deputy Chief of Staff. Rev. Hook, a graduate of the Lancaster Bible College and the Dallas Theological Seminary, has served as a pastor and as a faculty member at Philadelphia Biblical University. He is a national instructor for Walk Thru the Bible Ministries.
Hook is a veteran of the Vietnam War when he served as an officer with the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division. Along with other commendations, he earned the Bronze Star and two Air Medals during his service in Vietnam.
North Abington Township resident Michael McLane of Post 7069 was re-elected as VFW State Inspector. He has held leadership positions at the local Post, District and State levels including as State Chief of Staff during the 2013-14 VFW program year.
During his military service, he earned the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Combat Action Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, Purple Heart and Expert Rifle Badge.
Conneaut Lake resident Bob Eiler of Post 7842, a Past State Commander, continues to serve as the Pennsylvania VFW’s representative on the National VFW Council of Administration. Eiler has served in many leadership positions at the local, regional, state and national levels. In 2005-06, he led the Pennsylvania Department as State Commander. He has also been appointed chairman of the Department’s Finance Committee and serves on its Internal Affairs Committee. His other state level service includes being state membership chairman when he helped lead the Pennsylvania VFW to top national membership honors. Eiler was post commander three times including twice being named All-State Commander.
In addition to serving as a National Council member, Eiler has served on the National VFW General Resolutions Committee and the Veterans Care Committee. Eiler’s U.S. Army began in 1961 and he became an advisor in Laos and Vietnam. He earned the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal to become eligible for the VFW as well as the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Rifle Marksman Badge. After his military service, Eiler attended the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics. He then opened a flight school and became a commercial airlines pilot for 35 years.
Mount Wolf resident John A. Brenner, a member of VFW Post 2493 in Mount Wolf, was appointed by State Commander Wayne Perry as Pennsylvania VFW Parliamentarian. A Vietnam War veteran and past Pennsylvania Department of VFW State Commander, Brenner has held the Parliamentarian position several times, in addition to holding many VFW command leadership positions at the local Post and regional District levels.
Brenner has served as the Chairman of the State Veterans Commission and in leadership positions for the Pennsylvania War Veterans Council. Brenner has served on the boards of many community service projects and has participated in events that honor veterans from all service eras.
Titusville resident Cecil K. Dennis is serving as State VFW Chief of Staff, a position to which he was appointed by State Commander Wayne Perry. In this position, he will accompany Commander Perry on his statewide tour of VFW Post and District visits, and join Commander Perry at many military and public events.
Dennis has held many VFW leadership positions at the local Post, regional District and State levels, including State Membership Chairman and member of the State VFW Sergeant-at-Arms unit. He is one of the State VFW’s leading new member recruiters. Dennis served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army for 29 months and received the Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal and other decorations.
Greenville resident Thomas M. Hanzes of Post 7599 is serving as Immediate Past State Commander after serving as the organization’s Commander during the 2018-19 VFW year. He has served as Chairman of the State VFW’s Community Activities program, which tracks the many thousands of hours VFW and VFW Auxiliary volunteers contribute and donations made to projects that serve veterans, military personnel and local communities. He has been a Post Commander four times and Post Quartermaster ten times including twice when he earned “VFW All-State Team” status.
At the VFW District level, he was an All-State and All-American Commander. His leadership at the state level includes serving as POW/MIA Chairman and as a member of the Legislative Resolution Committee. Nationally, he was named a Special Aide-de-Camp, three times as a National Aide-de-Camp, a National Assistant Inspector General and a member of the Veterans Service Resolutions Committee.
During his military service with the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division, Hanzes earned the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Bronze Service Star, Bronze Star for Valor, two Overseas Bars, the National Defense Service Medal and a Sharpshooter badge with the M-14 rifle.
In addition to these PA VFW officers and appointees, the Department’s Council of Administration consists of District Commanders and State Program Chairpersons (contact information for these leaders will soon be posted in the “About Us” section). The Council meets throughout the year to shape the direction and activities of the Department of PA VFW.