PBS’s release of Vietnam, the 10-part, 18-hour series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, has much of the country remembering the long years of war in southeast Asia. It was a war far from Verona, yet it was brought home on an almost weekly basis in the battlefield letters to many Verona families.
One hundred and twenty-three men and women who were residents of Verona served their country during the conflict, and they are remembered on a plaque in Town Hall. Six of them never returned home: Colonel Lewis H. Abrams, 1st Lieutenant Gerald Daly Geoghegan, Corporal Anthony Hein, Lance Corporal Robert A. McCloskey, and Major Eugene Pabst are all memorialized on the website Verona Heroes, along with Specialist Alan K. Taylor, a Vietnam-era serviceman who died in Germany.
Sanford “Sandy” Weinberg, who served in the U.S. Army as a combat adviser in Vietnam from 1963 to 1965, returned to Verona and put in 50 years with the Verona Fire Department. David X. Flohn and James F. Hayes–better known as Jeff–have also been VFD stalwarts. Other Vietnam-era veterans later moved to Verona and served their new town, including former Verona Police Chief Doug Huber and our current mayor, Kevin Ryan. Former Township Manager Joe Martin was a Vietnam veteran, as was former Board of Education member Joe Bellino, and Verona has also become home Vietnamese refugees over the years.
For some, service in Vietnam opened a long military career: Robert J. Dietze, who passed away in 2005, served in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years. Col. Alfred W. Ruete, who passed away in 2014, served in the Marines for 31 years.
As you watch Vietnam, take a minute to think of those who were part of it but who are not on camera:
Leon Stuart Abbey, Lewis H. Abrams*, Robert T. Adams, James D. Aitken Jr., William C. Amidon, Richard Ast, Richard Barnes, Robert W. Barone, Henry J. Bator, Joseph M. Baum Jr., Paul V. Bennett, Lawrence Bergstresser, Glenn Bisignani, Ted G. Bogusz, David Bollenback, Robert C. Bowker, Frederick Brochu, John Brogan Jr., John Bruno, Leroy Buczynski
Raymond J. Caprio, Donald N. Cerefice Jr., Walter Christa, James P. Citrano, Charles R. Coad, Richard G. Coad, Barry Cost, Jack L. Cost, Jeffrey David Cost, Charles F. Covello, Charles Cruger
Gerard Vincent D’Alessio Jr., Paul G. Davenport, Robert J. Dietze, Herbert C. Disbrow, William Falconer Jr., Richard E. Ferguson, David X. Flohn, James M. Foster, Thomas Fox, Wayne R. Friedman
Donald J. Galgano, Gerald D. Geoghegan*, David F. Gesin, Charles R. Gould, James Haas, George D. Hansen Jr., William C. Hansen, Gregory Hayes, James F. Hayes, Anthony Hein*, Sigfried Higgins III, James J. Hilton, James E. Holler, Frederick Ingram
James E. Jacobs, F. Thomas Jacobs Jr., Armand Charles Jacobsen III, Dan Jeffreys, Edward L. Kleme, James Klindt, Loring Knodle, Robert A. Laucks, Richard J. Limpert, Woodrow W. Litwhiler Jr., Donald G. Locrasto, Frank C. Locrasto, John J. Locrasto Jr., Alden B. Long, Christopher E. Love
James D. Mather, Patricia Jane McClaskey, Robert A. McCloskey*, Robert D. McKinley, Shawn McNamara, James C. Michael, Joseph Migliara, John S. Miller, Joseph Miller, Sam Mongiovi, Russell Morris, Gregory Munning
Peter E. Nugent, Stephen Ong, Eugene Pabst*, Robert W. Pabst, Robert Peer, Samuel J. Picker, Harry W. Pryde Jr., John Dev. Rawcliffe, Donald Reid, Thomas Rock, Gary A. Roe, William Roos, John Roosma, William Roosma, Alfred W. Ruete, Robert Ruoto, Stephen M. Russell
David G. Schoeller, Robert A. Shaw, Elizabeth Shields, James H. Skwirut, Arthur D. Smith, David Smith, Gregory Smith, John B. Smith, Gary Sprague, George E. Switzer
Alan Taylor*, Robert J. Tebo, Harry Theobald Jr., Thomas N. Towne, Roger D. Trimmer, Robert C. Turner, Robert Vincelette Jr., Joseph A. Wannemacher, Robert Watkins, Ronald C. Watson, Sanford I. Weinberg, Leslie A. White, William Wilks, Edward S. Wojtal III, William Zukosky
* denotes died in service
Photos of Corporal Anthony Hein, Major Eugene Pabst, 1st Lieutenant Gerald Daly Geoghegan and Lance Corporal Robert A. McCloskey courtesy of Rob Caruso, creator of Verona Heroes. Photo of Specialist Alan K. Taylor courtesy of his family.