Commander Juan Manco; adjutant, treasurer and membership Chairman James ‘Jimmy’ Wright III; and Junior Vice Commander Josephine Hamm being sworn in as the new executive board.

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization does not receive any federal funding, but 97 percent of every charitable dollar it receives goes directly to help veterans.

On May 18, the Lithia-based Disabled American Veterans Chapter 161, named ‘The Four Chaplains #161,’ held its annual board inauguration and a change of command ceremony at the historic Hotel Flor in Tampa.  

Held on Armed Forces Day, the ceremony marked the third anniversary of the chapter’s founding in April 2021 and the passing of leadership from the chapter’s founders, retiring Commander James ‘Jimmy’ Wright III and Stacey Wright.

Retired Air Force Maj. Lee Vaughan was the master of ceremonies. Mayor Jane Castor sent a video message of appreciation to the chapter and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio sent a letter. Distinguished guests included Andy Marshall, past national commander of DAV and current DAV Department of Florida adjutant; Laymond Rose, DAV Dept. of Florida senior vice commander; Bob Asztalos, Florida Dept. of Veterans Affairs deputy executive director; Joshua Wostal, Hillsborough County commissioner; and Heather Carter, regional vice president of business development for Mederi Caretenders of LHC Group.

Commander Juan Manco; adjutant, treasurer and membership Chairman Jimmy; and Junior Vice Commander Josephine Hamm were welcomed as the new executive board.

Jimmy was inspired to start the chapter to advocate for veterans in the Lithia area.

“I started the chapter because I saw a need for it in my community. I wanted to foster brotherhood in the largest local military community outside of MacDill,” Jimmy said.

Air Force Loadmaster William Turner was honored at the ceremony for his service in Vietnam. Vaughan presented a special jumpmaster challenge coin.

“Mr. Turner, I jumped out of airplanes for 14 years and I’ve been a jumpmaster since about 1994, so I have had this coin for 30 years now. Thank you for your service, and it is my honor to present you with my personal coin,” Vaughan said.

The ceremony was the first military event Turner had attended since his time in the Air Force.

“For him to be presented a jumpmaster challenge coin from one of the men in the area in he served was so special. It truly finally welcomed him home,” Jimmy said.

If you would like to learn more about the veterans of The Four Chaplains #161, contact Jimmy at The chapter holds meetings at the Channing Park Recreation Center, located at 17358 Chelsea Downs Circle in Lithia, on the third Monday of every month at 7:30 p.m.

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