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The website of Florida Veterans Programs and Projects, Inc.

The website of Florida Veterans Programs and Projects, Inc.

Project News

FVPPI on YouTube

September 26, 2014

FVPPI films can be found on YouTube -

Korean War documentary:
WW II documentary:
Vietnam documentary:
POW documentary:
K9/PTSD trailer: (The full K9 doc will be put online after it is premiered locally and entered in a local film festival):

K9s for Warriors

April 23, 2014

This is our new three minute trailer of our current project.

We are now in the post production stage of the K9s for Warriors documentary. We would like to finish it up by mid-May so that we could enter it in the MOCA Film Festival in Jacksonville, FL. In order to do this we will need to raise more money to finish and to order DVDs to distribute to local high schools and libraries. We need your help. This documentary is co-produced by the Veterans Council of St. Johns County and Florida Veterans Programs & Projects, Inc. both 501 c3 not for profit corporations. If you or your organization can make a tax deductible donation, please make the check out to: Florida Veterans Programs & Projects, Inc.
4905 Los Altos Circle
Elkton, FL 32033

Week of Valor in Jacksonville, Florida

November 6 to November 17
download the brochure (PDF format)

10 Who Make a Difference: Friend of veterans says thanks with documentary tributes

October 6, 2013

photo credit: WILL DICKEY/The Times-Union

Michael Rothfeld is a former New York City teacher whose plan to retire to Florida turned into a new pursuit as a volunteer filmmaker documenting the lives of military veterans.

10 Who Make a Difference

By Tracy Jones

Every day, there are countless people who give their time and passion to make our community a better place to live. They help children, they help animals, they help families grieving after an act of senseless violence. They don't do it for headlines in newspapers or pats on the back. They do it because they want to make a difference. And they do. Here is another honoree in our annual 10 Who Make a Difference awards. For 35 years, Michael Rothfeld was a high school special education teacher in New York City. But when he moved to Elkton with plans to retire, he ended up picking up a new passion.

As a teacher, Rothfeld always enjoyed American history and has a master's degree in the subject. But while many of his friends were off fighting in the military over the years, Rothfeld remained in the classroom.

"While they were dodging bullets in Vietnam, I was dodging spitballs in the classroom in the Bronx," he said.

Once he moved to Florida, he was able to embrace his love of the military and history by honoring the service of his neighbors. He realized there were 32 World War II veterans in his community of Coquina Crossing. He knew their stories needed to be documented so they could be remembered properly, he said.

That led to the creation of the documentary, "Serve and Protect," which features stories from local veterans and which Rothfeld produced. Although he's never served in the military, Rothfeld's love of military history may stem from the close relationships he formed with men who lost their lives in Vietnam. One was Thomas Noonan, whom Rothfeld played high school football with, and who died in Vietnam when he jumped on a hand grenade.

"That had a lasting effect on me over these years," he said. "You don't forget those things."

Since the first documentary, he's produced other documentaries featuring local prisoners of war and Korean and Vietnam war veterans. WJCT broadcasts the documentaries around Veterans Day, and copies of the documentaries are in most local libraries.

Because of his work on the documentaries, he created his own nonprofit, Florida Veterans Programs & Projects Inc. Under his leadership, the organization has sent more than 1,200 packages to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He uses donations toward the nonprofit to help fund the documentaries.

He also compiles and edits a newsletter for the Veterans Council of St. Johns County, The Patriot Reader, which includes photos from military and veterans events and stories contributed by local veterans. All of these projects are volunteer and unpaid, but still hold incredible importance, he said. He also arranges for local college students to help with the documentaries.

"When I worked in a high school, I saw there was very little interest in American history," he said. "I try to bring college students to meet the veterans directly to hear their stories first-hand to have a greater impact."

Rothfeld's latest project is with the Veterans Council and is planned to be completed in November 2014. The documentary's subject is the K9s for Warriors program, which pairs dogs with veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder.

He's also tutored at Learn to Read, a St. Augustine organization to improve the area's literacy.

He's also a member of the St. Augustine Navy League and the Coquina Crossing Veterans Group.

Rothfeld was nominated as a person who makes a difference by his wife, Carol.

They've been married 48 years, but Rothfeld continues to impress his wife with his commitment to honoring local veterans. "I think what he's doing is an incredible service to the community, mostly because the service he is giving to our community is for a group he had no personal experience with," she said. "I'm extremely proud of the work he does and the things he's accomplished in a relatively short period of time."


November 11, 2012

Prisoners of War: STOLEN FREEDOM


October 18, 2012


Stolen Freedom
Re-Captured in Film
by Alice A. Booher

Those who attended the recent 2012 American Ex-POW Convention were able to view a DVD "played on a loop" in the hospitality Suite of an extraordinary POW documentary "Prisoners of War: Stolen Freedom", featuring four former POWs: CPO William Ingram, USN; Cpl Richard Bassett, USA; COL Hal Kushner, USA and CAPT Giles Norrington, USN. The film has been widely shown throughout Florida, its state of origin, and on some PBS stations and at veterans' meetings, but will hopefully now be seen nationwide to great acclaim. [At Convention, it shared the "loop" with "The Tragedy of Bataan", a documentary by Jan Thompson who father was a POW, and narrated by Alex Baldwin.] The 45 minute long documentary may be one of the best made to include three wars, four men and what the subheader sums up as "One Mission: Stay Alive". Credit must be given to the Director, Eric Flagg, and to the producer and cheerleader, Michael Rothfeld, the latter of whom graciously made another copy of the DVD available to the AxPOW Convention when the first one went missing, and to many other interested parties for wider distribution and educational viewing.

There has long been abundant available footage of war, including some showing POWs being taken prisoner, in captivity, and during repatriations. But more than any other prior film, Stolen Freedom's programmers must have gone through hundreds of hours of film, because they have exquisitely isolated the exact moments of appropriate footage from which to illustrate the actions or circumstances actually discussed by the respective POWs. It is almost surreal to see the very raw footage taken on one of dozens of buses during Operation Homecoming, at Clark Air Base, when Giles Norrington's POW bracelet is handed through the window on a rolled paper on his exact bus. The technique and unique skill with which this marriage of film and text has been precisely implemented lends ultimate credibility to the entire process. The well edited content and articulate responses by the four POWs are utterly compelling but never overextended. The men are seated in a professional but relaxed fashion, and tell their stories in straight-forward but never dispassionate words that may have been modestly scripted for conciseness, but if so, the content was clearly from the hearts and minds of the men themselves. With the benefit of hindsight and a good deal of time on which to reflect on their respective experiences, their observations and insights, sometimes stated with pithy idiom, are simply extraordinary.

It is also rewarding to see demonstrated evidence that all four men returned with resilience to full and meaningful post-captivity lives and works. Ingram, taken POW when the Japanese sunk the USS HOUSTON in March 1942, worked on the railroad project to build the Bridge on the River Kwai in Thailand for 3.5 years. On repatriation, he discovered his brother had also been a POW. Bassett was held during the bitter winter of 1950-1951 in the North Korean POW Camp 5. He later taught high school history for 20 years. Kushner, a surgeon and sole survivor of his helicopter crash, was befriended by a farmer who betrayed him to the Viet Cong after feeding him. Moved from camp to camp for 5.5 years, he ended up in the Hanoi Hilton. He returned to active practice. Norrington, shot down during a bombing mission in May 1968, and severely injured, was held in isolation until moved where two cellmates could help him address basic human needs, and then into a large room with 56 other navigators and pilots during his nearly 5 years captivity. He returned to active work with civilian and military communities including AIDS awareness and Red Cross.

The inside covers of the DVD generously reproduce some of Norrington's 32 pen and ink drawings of captivity. Stolen Freedom is a well spent reflective use of time for everyone, even those who are already too painfully aware of the POW experience.

Pentagon Channel schedule of the show times of the FVPPI documentary, "Prisoners of War: Stolen Freedom"
21 SEP 12
(All Times Eastern)
1100 -POWs: Stolen Freedom; Learn how four former American POWs who fought in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War managed to survive the brutality of being captured - and hear from one of them, Capt. Giles Norrington, who was in the "Hanoi Hilton" prison. Discover their uplifting messages of freedom and courage. (45min) Encores at 1600hrs.

1330 - Into the Mouth of the Cat - Based on the story of Lance Sijan who was a United States Air Force captain in the Vietnam War. On November 9, 1967, Sijan ejected from his F-4 Phantom II at high speeds and at a low altitude, which caused him to suffer massive injuries to his body. Sijan avoided and escaped capture for nearly six weeks while crawling through jungles eating nothing but various plants and bugs before he was captured. Even after being captured and going through harsh torture, Sijan escaped once again, only to again be captured. Sijan died two weeks later in a prisoner jail in Hanoi. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor and a dormitory at his alma mater, the United States Air Force Academy, is named in his honor. (30min) Encores at 2230hrs.

ENCORE 1800 - POW/ MIA : Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ADM James Winnefeld deliver remarks at the POW/MIA recognition ceremony at the Pentagon. (40min, VoD, Podcast) Encores at 0000 & 0600

ENCORE1840 - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff GEN Martin Dempsey delivers remarks at the Association of the United States Army, General Bernard W. Rogers Strategic Issues Forum in Arlington, VA. (50min, VoD, podcast)

2300 - Angels Among Us: Vietnam POWs: Vietnam Veterans reflect on the time they served our country as Prisoners of War. (45min)

22 SEP 12

(All Times Eastern)

1100 - USS Fort Worth : The commissioning ceremony of the USS Fort Worth Commissioning in Galveston, TX . (Live)

ENCORE 1300 - Sequestration Hearing: The House Armed Services Committee receives testimony on the Department of Defense Plans for Sequestration. Witnesses Include:
- Robert Hale, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)
- GEN Lloyd Austin, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army
- ADM Mark Ferguson, Vice Chief of Naval Operations
- Gen Larry Spencer, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force
- Gen Joseph Dunford, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. (1hr)

For the latest daily updates to the Pentagon Channel schedule, visit
Streaming Live 24/7

VoD = Video on Demand, on our web site when you want to watch it
Podcast = Downloadable to your mp3 player

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Updates from the U.S. Department of Defense

For Immediate Release - April 23, 2012

For More Information, contact:
Christine M. Colborne, Media Relations, 404.213.3014 (C),,Cathie Lechareas
Co-Founder/Executive Director CAMMO 703.518.3162 (O); 703-967-5391(C)

Rolling Thunder Founder Ray Manzo Highlights Speaker Lineup at C*A*M*M*O Tribute to Rolling Thunder XXV on May 26, 2012

Alexandria, VA - Ray Manzo, founding father of the original Rolling Thunder First Amendment Demonstration Run in 1988, will be a featured speaker at the Center for American Military Music Opportunities' (C*A*M*M*O) tribute to Rolling Thunder's 25th anniversary, on Saturday, May 26, at a special stage set up at the intersection of Henry Bacon Drive and Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. The program salutes Rolling Thunder's annual Demonstration Run on May 27 for Prisoners of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIAs) and honors service members and veterans from all wars.

After seeing his vision of national attention for the POW/MIA issue recognized, Manzo relinquished any role in Rolling Thunder in 1992 and quietly assumed a regular private life for the next 20 years. As Rolling Thunder looks toward its 25th anniversary, Manzo will return to the run to celebrate and honor the dream he first had 25 years ago.

The speaker lineup also includes representation from government, military, veterans and POW/MIA activists, including:
-Ted Shpak, President, Rolling Thunder Washington, DC
-Representative from Vietnam Commemorative Committee (to be announced)
-Col. Pat Blassie, sister of 1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie, USAF
-Colleen Shine, daughter of Lt. Col. Anthony Shine, USAF
-Pam Cain, daughter of Col. Oscar Mauterer, USAF, MIA Laos 2/15/66
-"Moe" Moyer, "The Ride Home," plus a video clip entitled "PRISONERS OF WAR: Stolen Freedom"
-Adam Clampitt, (Lt., USNR) - Veterans Crisis Line

Additional speakers are being confirmed and will be announced later. The event also includes several musical acts, including Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band, and nationally recognized military and civilian entertainers. A highlight of the tribute will be the unveiling of five custom-made "tribute" motorcycles - one for each branch of military service - built especially to commemorate the Rolling Thunder XXV anniversary. Complete details of the program, as well as speaker and entertainer biographies, will be available soon in an online press room on C*A*M*M*O's web site, on the Rolling Thunder Washington, D.C. web site, and a mobile app that will be available shortly.(more)

C*A*M*M*O is a 501c(3) non-profit organization founded in 2009 by U.S. Navy veteran Cathie Lechareas and U.S. Army veteran Victor Hurtado that believes in the healing power of music. Run by veterans for veterans and active-duty service members, C*A*M*M*O develops military and veteran artists, technicians, writers and musicians at its C*A*M*M*O centers. Concurrently it is developing military-specific music therapy programs providing qualified music therapists who can assist past and present service members who are suffering neurological impairments such as traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. For more information about C*A*M*M*O, visit their web site.

Rolling Thunder-Washington, D.C., is a 501c(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to make certain that we, as a nation, neither neglect our prisoners of war nor forget our missing in action. Founded in 1987 by four Vietnam veterans - Cpl. Ray Manzo, Sgt. Major John "Top" Holland, Staff Sgt. Ted Sampley, and 1st Sgt. Walt Sides, the organization's most visible outward symbol is the annual Rolling Thunder First Amendment Demonstration Run through the nation's capital every Memorial Day weekend. The rally began in 1988 with just a few hundred motorcycles and now attracts hundreds of thousands of participants from all over the world. A less visible, but equally important, expression of our mission is our legislative efforts. We strive to affect national policy in a way that will assist POW/MIAs. We wrote, got introduced and passed, the Missing Service Personnel Act of 1984. For more information, visit Rolling Thunder Washington, D.C., Inc.'s web site at

All media will need credentials to obtain access to the stage area; no media will be allowed backstage or in the green room area. Pre-registration is preferred; press badges will be prepared and available for pick up on Saturday, May 26 at the Media Tent beginning 10 a.m. To register for credentials, send the following information to You will receive an email confirmation once registration has been confirmed: Full name, date of birth, ID number (valid US driver's license, US-government-issued ID card, Passport, number, etc.), as well as company/media name and address, contact phone number and email address, web site/blog address. Questions about media credential applications should be e-mailed to

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