Who is Nick Parnello (Blackjack 6) and and what is LZ Wings for Heroes? Anyone will tell you Nick is usually a pretty quiet guy when it comes to talking about himself.
He joined the Army and served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969, mainly around II Corp and Pleiku. Mostly he was a door gunner on a Huey and then served the last six months as bodyguard to the Division Aviation Colonel.
When he was in Vietnam he met up with Joey Falzone, also from Rockford, and vowed if they ever made it back to the world, they would get together at Maria's Restaurant in Rockford. And they did.
Then in 1979 they decided other Vietnam veterans that were hurting from the wounds of war and may also get help from sharing their experiences and brotherhood. That beginning led to the formation of VietNow. Nick and Joey were the original members who started VietNow. Today, over 30 years later, it's a nationwide veterans organization, with its primary focus is being a strong advocate for Vietnam veterans. There are over 20 chapters around the country.
Several years later Nick a vision of a Vietnam veterans memorial to honor those, from Winnebago county, who were killed in the Vietnam War. Together with four other veterans, they started the Vietnam Veterans Honor Society, which created and sponsors the LZ Peace Memorial located at Midway Village in Rockford, Illinois. This great peace memorial was built with the help and support of hundreds of volunteers along with many companies who generously donated time and money through the years. It took 22 years to complete the memorial, and it's still not finished. Today it's still funded by donations. www.lzpeace.org
It's the second largest Vietnam veterans memorial in the country. In 2015 they created the Agent Orange Memorial and in two ceremonies added 17 names of Vietnam veterans who died of Agent Orange-related diseases. We think it's the only Agent Orange Memorial in the country.
And just for fun, they organized what they fondly called the Vietnam Veterans Supper Club. Once a month they've gotten together for dinner at Maria's Italian restaurant in Rockford, Illinois. Sadly Maria's closed in December 2013. Thanks to Joe Cason, Mama Cason and everyone for allowing us to share our friendship and hospitality for all those years. Hooooooorah and thanks for the memories. This lasted over 40 years.
Our supper club was lucky enough to move to Lino's Restaurant on E. State Street, where we have our dinners. Here's a Hoooooorah to Mike, Joe, Jimmy for putting up with us. Thank you.
Nick's also an inventor and you may have seen his best invention, the Tangle-Free telephone cord connector. This is back before smartphones.
He recently wrote and published a book about how to bring your invention to market. It's titled: "Basic Training for Inventors" I know, it sounds like government-speak but there's no doubletalk. Just straight from the mouth of someone who's been there and done that.
Nick's legal guru says to let you know, there is no connection between LZ Wings for Heroes and any other Vietnam veterans organization. This is a new venture he's solely responsible for, trying to help war veterans, through the experience of flying with a fellow combat veterans.
Any and all money received for this endeavor is considered a gift, and not a contribution or donation. This means you can't deduct it from your taxes. It's important that you know this.