John L. Henson
National Commander 2012 - 2015
In all my years, I have not received a greater honor than that bestowed on me as National Commander of VUMS. I would be the first to say that the work is difficult, and at times tedious, and usually thankless, but I would not have missed it for the world. The membership are among the greatest men and women I have ever known. It was once said that we have a very short time to go till we must disband due to advancing age and infirmity of our membership and officers. I firmly believe that as long as some of us are able to carry on there will be a VUMS. When the time does come to put VUMS "to bed", I sincerely hope that the surviving members will have enjoyed our beloved organization as much as I. To all my successors, I can only say that I know my predecessors join me in wishing you well and Godspeed. Thank you all. John
William C. Morgan
National Commander 2011-2013
What a privilege and pleasure to be a member of VUMS. Earlier, i served as Writer and Ediitor of the America's Young Warrior newsletter. It was fun and yes, it was a lot of work to get stories from the members. Some I spent hours and days helping to get their story in print. However, I enjoyed it and will never forget the stories that we put together for our members to enjoy. As I read some, I had problems with my vision. I would laugh at some and shed tears reading others.
Each of us has been there and done that, we changed our birthdate to rush the cadence and most of us never got caught.
Next, I served as Vice Commander and later as National Commander. Time went quickly and we lost Dr. B.J. Doyle, our Immediate Past Commander (IPC). I felt that vacancy would be a big hole to fill and I did so by Appointing John Henson as Commander and he appointed Willie Paradise as Vice Commander. John came off the block running and has not stopped yet. Keep going John, keep going. The hourglass is draining faster each year. If I can be of help to you as IPC, I am only a phone call or e-mail away.
As the new command takes office, VUMS, has slightly more than 1100 men and women members, this includes life members, auxiliary, and honorary members.
In conclusion, I say, “Thanks to PC Ed Gilley for this beautiful Website to expose us to the world.” We believe there are many potential members out there who do not know we exist. I ask every member to be a self appointed recruiter. We owe it to our posterity to let them know about those “Daring Boys and Girls” that enlisted at ages 12 through 16 for boys and girls from 13 to and including age 19.
I salute all VUMS and say "Thank You". Bill
Kenneth R. Buster
Past Commander 2005-07
The opportunity to serve as the National Commander is one that I would not trade for anything. These past three years have allowed me to meet, and become friends with, individuals who gave their youth to their country and would do it again, given the chance. Their spirit of "can do" carried on past their military years and is reflected in the accomplishments of their lives. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity and I will cherish it forever. Ken
Ray D. Jackson
Past Commander 2002-04
I have had the privilege of serving as national vice commander, national commander, newsletter editor, and editor of three books of stories about underage veterans. I came to know well many of our members personally, and many others indirectly by editing their stories. What impresses me the most about these men and women who, as youngsters, rushed the cadence to enlist in the military before they could legally do so, is that many went on to be very successful in business, academics, the military, and other endeavors. I have never met a finer group of people. Ray
Edward E. Gilley (Deceased, April 5, 2013)
Past Commander 1999-01
VUMS had a long and hard administrative road between 1998 to 2001. Ray Jackson and I were duly elected by a written and secret ballot. The organization was then 'out of step' and being run by others while Al Stover was working in Saudi Arabia. We needed a leadership with built-in checks and balances instead of the 'One Man' rule. We spent the next three years counting cadence to wayward dissidents, etc.
Afterwards unit pride, with peace and harmony, prevailed within the ranks. In January 1999 we appointed a bonded Secretary/Treasurer and a Board of Directors which were all later duly elected by the membership, We also made changes in some state commanders positions. We changed the by-laws after due input from the rank and file. We initiated a public relations drive by the press and television nationwide. The VUMS Organization is now essentially the same today as it was after these changes. I am proud to be a member of this fine veterans organization. Ed
Allan C. Stover
Founder & Past Commander
I STILL FIND IT HARD TO BELIEVE! I never imagined when I founded Veterans of Underage Military Service in 1991 that it would grow as large as it has. We have identified more than 2,600 “kids” and more than half of them are still active members. Along the way, we’ve had some wonderful reunions, made some wonderful friends, and heard some great war stories. All of that wouldn’t have been possible if VUMS had never existed. Sometimes at a reunion banquet, I’ll look over the crowd and am truly humbled by the role I played in forming VUMS. I still find it hard to believe how far we’ve come.VUMS’ success has been possible because of the people involved. We were blessed to have some great National Commanders and their wives who were dedicated to VUMS. They worked long hours and made some tough decisions. We have also been blessed with a great group of members who served their country and are proud of their underage service. God bless you all. Al