Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater Bar honors Douglas de Vlaming for humanitarian work

CLEARWATER — As a defense attorney, Douglas M. "Chuck" de Vlaming has helped countless Pinellas County residents.

But Friday he was recognized for the humanitarian work he has done in a country that he once bombed.

De Vlaming received the Clearwater Bar Association's highest honor at the organization's 48th Law Day luncheon and annual meeting at the Belleair Country Club. He was among four award winners at the event.

De Vlaming was given the Ralph Richards Award, which for the past 28 years has gone to the member who has demonstrated an extraordinary sense of care, dedication, concern and service to both the legal profession and the community.

"I'm shocked," said de Vlaming, 63. "I'm humbled that the Bar feels I'm deserving of this. There's a great deal of pride in this."

A 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran, de Vlaming was a fighter pilot who served two tours in Vietnam. He earned a Silver Star for valor in combat.

But it was what happened on Dec. 10, 1972, while flying a single seat, single engine A-7 light attack airplane over Vietnam that in part led to Friday's honor. On that day, de Vlaming provided cover for a helicopter rescue mission.

"In the years since the war, Chuck was haunted by a village that he had bombed with smoke grenades because in the process he had seriously damaged a church in that village," said Jeffrey Albinson, the Bar Association's president.

In 2006, de Vlaming made his first return to that Vietnam village. He made a generous donation to repair the church, Albinson said.

Last year, he returned and provide villagers with a fishing net for every family, a poncho for each person and a marble Madonna for the church. De Vlaming also met a woman who was injured as a young girl in the 1972 bombing.

"I felt very sad that people had to suffer," de Vlaming said Friday. "But I wasn't remorseful. I was doing my job and trying to protect a helicopter that had gotten shot up."

Attorney James Dodson Jr. told de Vlaming he was the "real deal."

"You stood up when you had to do the right thing," he said. "And you came back with the right heart. You are a patriot."

Other honorees

• Largo police Sgt. George Edmiston won the Allen Moore Gold Badge Award for outstanding law enforcement officer in north Pinellas County. He has been instrumental in developing ways for the citizens to bring their traffic concerns to the Police Department's attention.

• Mount Carmel Baptist Church won the Liberty Bell Award for outstanding service. Some 34 years ago, the church, then headed by Pastor Mac J. Williams Sr., set aside the third Sunday in May of each year to observe Law Day.

The church also collaborates with the Clearwater Bar and Gulfcoast Legal Services in sponsoring an annual legal clinic in which attorneys come to the church to provide free legal advice.

• Second District Court of Appeals Judge Nelly Khouzam won the John U. Bird Distinguished Jurist Award. She was honored based on her elevation last August to the Court of Appeal and her accomplishments in 15 years as a circuit judge.

• Palm Harbor University High School's Danny Silver and Thomas Garmon for winning the Great Debate.

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at or (727) 445-4174.

Fast facts

New officers

Joseph A. Corsmeier, a Clearwater sole practitioner, was inducted president of the 79-year-old, 900-plus-member organization. Others inducted included the following north Pinellas County lawyers:

President elect: Donald S. Crowell.

Secretary: Jennifer A. Reh

Treasurer: Marcus A. Castillo

Directors: Stephanie R. Bolton, Kimberly A. Campbell, Sherwood "Flip" Coleman, John Davis Fernandez, Bridget A. Heptner, Myriam Irizarry, Charles E. Lykes Jr., Gale Moore and Jeffrey A. Albinson, immediate past president.

Young Lawyers division: Zack Zuroweste, president; Josh Chilson, president-elect.

Clearwater Bar honors Douglas de Vlaming for humanitarian work 05/01/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 1, 2009 10:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Plant City police searching for drive-by shooter


    PLANT CITY — Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest in an early morning drive-by shooting outside a home.

    John J. Keeper, 49, was shot in the thigh in a drive-by shooting early Tuesday outside this home at 516 E Laura St. in Plant City. [Hillsborough County Property Appraiser]
  2. FSU-Tulane coming to Amalie Arena in December


    Florida State basketball is coming to Tampa.

  3. Taylor Swift congratulates Russell Westbrook on MVP Award


  4. Strategic Property Partners launches website for Water Street Tampa


    Strategic Property Partners has launched its official website for Water Street Tampa, its 53-acre redevelopment project in downtown Tampa Tuesday.

    Strategic Property Partners on Tuesday announced the name of its new development: Water Street Tampa. [Photos courtesy of SPP]
  5. Is Mikhail Sergachev, who debuts with Lightning at Wednesday camp, ready for the NHL?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — When defenseman Mikhail Sergachev was taken ninth overall by the Canadiens in the 2016 NHL draft, a horde of Montreal media surrounded him for his first news conference.

    Mikhail Sergachev takes a shot during warmups prior to a game between the Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes in October in Montreal. [Getty Images]