|The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
|17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770
Portville, New York
The lovely watercolor
in our toolbar above is
a depiction of the office
at 17 Maple Avenue.
The artist is Portville's
very own talent,
1961 Graduate of Portville Central School is Author of Vietnam Memoirs
Many people remember the Bonspers from Portville, Barney and Betty, and their two children Donald
and Jacqueline (Chambers). Now retired from a long career in the military, Don has been writing about
his experiences in Vietnam. His first book was entitled Vietnam Memoirs Part 1, My Experiences as
a Marine Platoon Leader. His second book, Vietnam Memoirs Part 2, My Experiences as an
Advisor with the Vietnamese Marine Corps, has just been released and picks up where part one
The first book starts as he assumes command of a Marine infantry platoon in Vietnam in June, 1967.
In November, 1967, he was reassigned to the Marine Advisory Unit. According to his publicist, "his
books are not full of glorified stories about combat. Rather they are the author’s best recollection of the
day to day reality of living in combat. His story is not unique or special, but it is honest and real." We
found a very interesting article that ran in the Kentucky New Era, Hopkinsville, KY. It is a great
"vignette" about Don that ran on June 29, 1968. (Read the AP article "Marine serves as Advisor to Viet
Don graduated in 1961 at the top of his senior class. Not only Valedictorian, he was the Class
President, and lettered in four varsity sports. He formed some lasting lifetime friendships with his
classmates. Tom Donohue from the Times Herald wrote about the group's history and the scholarship
they started in his 2014 column. (Read the newspaper article "Time only Strengthens Friendship of
After high school, he entered the United States Naval Academy, graduating with a commission as a
second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1965. He received a Fulbright Scholarship to Costa Rica for
one year and then entered The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, graduating in January 1967 as the
He served his tour in Vietnam from June 1967 to June 1968; first leading the First Platoon of E Co,
Second Battalion, Ninth Marines and then serving as the assistant and senior advisor working with the
Second Battalion, Vietnamese Marine Corps. He was awarded a Silver Star and Bronze Star for his
Upon completion of his tour in Vietnam he went on to complete a 20 year career in the Marines,
retiring in 1985 as a lieutenant colonel, after serving in a variety of staff and leadership positions,
including Commanding Officer, Second Battalion, Fifth Marines at Camp Pendleton, CA.
After his military retirement he continued working as a faculty member and International Programs
Coordinator at the Defense Resources Management Institute (DRMI), Naval Postgraduate School, in
Monterey, CA until his retirement in 2012. Don lives in Carmel Valley, CA, with his wife Pam. Pam is
also an author of many published children's books.
Sadly, Don and Jacquie's mother Betty passed away about two years ago before he became a
published author. She was 93. Betty attended Portville High School and played on the girls' basketball
team, graduating with the class of 1938. (Betty Smith Bonsper's photograph and obituary is attached
Book Ordering information
Don's two books are available in paperback on Amazon and digitally on Amazon Kindle.
Pam's books are also available in paperback on Amazon and
digitally on Amazon Kindle.
Read some of Don's reviews below and order your copies today!
As Promised - Pictures of the 2015 Memorial Day Parade - Portville at its BEST!
On Monday, May 25, 2015, the Ernest Lamb Post #814 American Legion sponsored their annual parade through the
village of Portville. The Legion led the Fire Department trucks, Army trucks, Cub Scouts, bike rally, the Wounded
Warrior Project clowns, and many others. Parade participants and followers met up in Chestnut Hill Cemetery for the
Legion's annual ceremony. Mayor Emily Woodhead spoke and they also had an interesting speaker from Salamanca,
followed by the roll call and the traditional gun salute to honor our veterans and all soldiers who died while serving in
the Armed Forces. Everyone loves a parade! (photos by Cindy Harrison Keeley)
American Legion - Ernest Lamb Post 814
Wounded Warrior Clowns Wendy Van Curen (Thing 1) and Mary Kichman (holding the flag)
Scout leader Tiffany Gagliardo, Wounded Warrior Clown Barb Fairbanks, Ronda Pollock, and Shirley Emley
Joint Veterans Council for Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties
Portville Police Escort for the American Legion
Mary Lee Wenke and her father, Veteran Tony Wilson
Veteran Thomas Pollock, Veteran Kenneth Eldridge,
Mayor Emily Woodhead, and Rae Mohr
Mohr's Fancy Rig and Ride for WWII Veterans
Bent Brass with Bob Fairbanks
Vintage Cars - the Pollock-mobile Bob and Holly Fischer
Portville Baptist Christian School
Westons Mills' Kinney Hose Company
Eldred Township Fire Department
Eldred Township Fire Department
Portville Fire Department
Welcome to PHPS
This page was last updated on 08-12-15
|Author - Retired Lt. Col. Don Bonsper
Visit the Portville Historical and Preservation Society on Thursdays
We started our season on May 7th at our 17 Maple Avenue office and will continue to meet there
every Thursday until September 24th. We are open every Thursday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and
can meet out of town visitors by appointment. Contact us if you are unable to visit Portville on a
Thursday so we can make arrangements.
Annual Trustee Meeting Held
On Saturday, June 6, 2015, the Officers and Trustees of PHPS gathered at the Bedford Corners
Schoolhouse for our annual business meeting. Our agenda included reporting on the fiscal years,
2013 and 2014, including activity reports, curator reports, and treasurer reports. Our current Officers
were reelected for the 2015-2017 term and five Trustees renewed their 3-year terms.
We welcomed Mary Frair Kichman as our newest Trustee, replacing Ruth Bixby Bray, who
resigned last year. Mary is a great addition to our board. She has fantastic ideas and has been
working with the Wounded Warriors Project for many years. Mary graduated PCS in 1980 and
moved back to Portville several years ago to take care of her father, Mr. Lee A. Frair. They have
three beautiful daughters.
For the past several years we have presented the board with a detailed report on income and expenses,
as well as a planning budget. This enables us to make decisions on funding for special preservation
projects at Bedford Corners. An information packet was provided to each attendee, highlighting the
accomplishments of our dedicated volunteers. Click here for more information about the meeting.
Mary Frair Kichman, our newest trustee, and her husband Matt
PHPS Fundraiser - Quilt Raffle
Our curator and trustee, Terri Batt, spent countless hours this past year making a beautiful
queen-sized quilt for PHPS to raffle. Her "plus" design is made of fabrics dating from 1930 to 1990
with each plus a different fabric. She machine-pieced the colorful top but the back is quilted and
finished by hand. Many of the vintage fabrics came from the estate of Charles Eshelman.
Terri is displaying the quilt at our office at 17 Maple Avenue, where you can purchase your tickets.
Tickets are $20, with 20 chances to win the quilt. You can also request tickets by mail. The drawing
is to be held on September 30th. Proceeds will fund our Bedford Corners projects so please
contribute to this worthwhile cause.
Terri Batt displays her beautiful work below - it has every color under the sun!
|Chestnut Hill Cemetery
Gun Salute (below)