Volunteers Give Their All

On Saturday, a very special group gathered at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington.

Among them, they have a number of service medals, decades of military service, funny stories and stories to tell for decades.

They are, to us at VVMF, Wall Volunteers. Technically, they’re National Park Service volunteers at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and they do so much to support The Wall, VVMF and Vietnam veterans. They dedicate their time to assisting more than four million annual visitors at The Wall. They are committed to sharing the legacy of all Vietnam veterans, spreading the healing power of the Memorial and educate future generations.

Dan Kirby, left, with Michael McMahon with the Libby Hatch award.

We love and appreciate all of our volunteers, but each year, we pick a standout and honor him or her with the Libby Hatch Volunteer Recognition Award. In an effort to thank these volunteers, VVMF presents this annual award in which the recipient is nominated by their peers.

This year’s honoree is Michael McMahon. Though he lives in New Jersey, he regularly makes the trip to the National Mall to volunteer at The Wall and has done so for more than 10 years. Michael was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. and received his draft notice on Christmas Eve 1968. He opened with “Greetings,” and he still remembers that as a “rather unusual Christmas card from the Selective Service System.”

“You always receive a warm, friendly welcoming on those days when you happen to be working with Michael. He is just one of the guys who treats everyone with great respect whether you are new to volunteering or you have been involved for 30 years,” one volunteer wrote of McMahon.

He was assigned to Bravo Company, 6th Battalion, 31st Infantry of the 9th Division in the Mekong Delta from June 1969 to June 1970. Michael served in several infantry squad positions and was appointed squad leader attaining the rank of sergeant (E-5).

He is the recipient of the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Bronze Star with “V” Device, two Army Commendation Medals, and two awards of the Air Medal. After coming home from Vietnam, Michael returned to work at Merrill Lynch; received an MBA from Pace University; and retired from Merrill Lynch as a senior director/first vice president after 36 years.

Michael and his wife, Dolores have been married since May 1969 and now live in New Jersey, where Michael is involved with the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial and often talks with students about the Vietnam War and his personal experiences.

“In my few years volunteering at The Wall, I have come to know Michael as a dedicated volunteer and genuine good guy. I have never known him to say a sharp word as he is always patient with the visitors and careful to explain the memorial in the level of detail appropriate to the visitor. He is terrific with the children who visit. Michael gives freely of his time and has advised me on many occasions on how to handle a dicey situation. I am proud to call him a fellow veteran, volunteer and friend,” said Dan Kirby as he introduced Michael at the luncheon on Saturday. Kirby is a past recipient of the Libby Hatch award.

Another volunteer wrote in the nominations: “I’ve seen him countless times helping, teaching and comforting visitors with a true concern for what they came to The Wall to find. Visitors come away with a new knowledge and feeling of healing after Michael has helped them.”

Previous recipients include Lee Adriani, Charlie Harootunian, Frank Bosch, Red Flegal, Sid George, Annmarie Emmet, Allen McCabe, Ron Worstell, Dan Arant and Dan Kirby.