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News Story
Updated: 06/22/2014 08:00:01AM

Veterans, bikers unite for Wall

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SUN PHOTO BY GARY ROBERTS

Vietnam veteran Don Schaible of Port Charlotte poses next to a painting, featuring a younger version of himself, that was auctioned off to raise money to bring a Vietnam Memorial Wall replica to Punta Gorda.

SUN PHOTO BY GARY ROBERTS
Owner Jose Santiago, far right, hosted a Vietnam Memorial Wall fundraiser at Habana Cigar Lounge Saturday in Punta Gorda, attended by his fiancée and co-owner Kathie Jette, from left, bartender Melissa Miller and Charlotte Stone Crabs mascot Stoney.

SUN PHOTO BY GARY ROBERTS
Bikers were well-represented at Saturday’s fundraiser for the Vietnam Memorial Wall campaign. Members of the international Gunfighters MC, a group of law-enforcement riders, include Ken Walters, from left; Iraq veteran William Weissphennig and his 6-year-old son, Hunter; and Joe Saladino.

SUN PHOTO BY GARY ROBERTS
Along with veterans and bikers, Saturday’s fundraiser for the Vietnam Memorial Wall attracted a likeness of the most interesting man in the world, flanked by photos of Habana Cigar Lounge owner Jose Santiago, a veteran himself, who opened the Punta Gorda establishment in September.

By GARY ROBERTS

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PUNTA GORDA — After fighting in Vietnam, Fred Edwards returned home to visit his girlfriend at Trenton State College, in full dress fatigues. But in a cultural climate not always welcoming to Vietnam veterans, Edwards immediately was escorted off campus by university police.

“It made me sick to experience something like that,” Edwards recalled. “I thought that, in wearing the uniform, I was representing a proud Vietnam veteran. It didn’t happen that way.”

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