New England publishers and editors,
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is asking newspapers throughout the country to help find pictures of soldiers from their communities who were killed in action in Vietnam for the new “Faces Never Forgotten” project. This project is an online interactive display, and people will also be able to view it at the new Education Center that’s being built near the Vietnam Memorial Wall on the National Mall.
Out of the 58k soldiers killed, the VVMF still needs 24,000 pictures. In light of such a big challenge, they’d like local newspapers to help locate a picture of any of the soldiers from their circulation area that don’t already have a picture in the display. Conceivably, your paper could run an article asking if anyone has a picture of the soldier(s) – perhaps as part of an upcoming Memorial Day feature, and you could also check your own archives for a news, activity or sports photo. Some papers may even be willing to contact the local high school to see if it has a yearbook picture to honor an alum in the display who is missing a photo.
Here is the request from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund:
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund “Faces Never Forgotten” project needs help obtaining missing photos of Vietnam veterans from New England. These photos will help complete an electronic “Wall of Faces” in the new education center at the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
View the gallery in progress at http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/.
These are moving tributes to fallen soldiers. Would you please help us locate a photo of each soldier from your area?
Please check the display, and if there is a soldier from your area who is missing a photo, perhaps you could check to see if you have a photo in your newspaper archive and/or run a notice in your paper. If you obtain the photos, please just send them to NENPA and they will forward them on to the VVMF.
Guide to determining which photos are needed
The following are instructions are on how to get the updated status of the photos in the display.
1. Go to: http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/
2. Click Advanced Search, to the right of the search box
3. Input the city, county, or state that coincides with your circulation area
4. Scroll to the last box and check: Does Not Have a Default Photo
5. Hit Submit
This will show any names of soldiers from your area that are missing a photo.
Thank you for your help with this very worthwhile tribute.
Please send photos to:
New England Newspaper & Press Association
“Faces Never Forgotten”
370 Common St.
Dedham, MA 02026
On May 18th, the Town of Montville will hold its Memorial Day parade. Every year, the Mohegan Tribe enters a float in this parade. “This year will be no different,” says Mohegan Chairman Kevin Brown, except that this year, its chairman happens to be a veteran. Colonel Kevin Brown, US Army (ret), will march to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
Chairman Kevin Brown, “Red Eagle” by Tribal name, served as a leader of US Army Combat Troops. The date of the parade is the eighth anniversary of one of his most heart wrenching days in 2007 – when he helped carry four of his fallen troops from the battlefield to their final resting place. Colonel Brown will march in remembrance and respect of those men. He will march as the officer and gentleman soldier he will forever be – always a Warrior.
Some are drawn to military service, others are born to it. Colonel Brown came in to the world at US Army Post Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The son of a decorated Airborne Combat Infantryman, whose 26-year career saw battle in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam; young Kevin Brown grew up to the sound of trumpet calls, the tramp of marching boots and sight of his father parachuting into the drop zone.
“When I was ten years old, I remember standing on the front lawn with my mother watching the paratroopers jump from the airplane and descend down under their parachutes. My mother said, “He was supposed to be jumper number nine so that’s probably him right there.” “That puts an imprint on your soul. Though I didn’t really know it, nor made it a lifelong goal of mine, it was always in the back of my mind to join the military.”
After following his dad to various postings, the family came home to their Mohegan Tribe in Montville. A stellar student/athlete, young Kevin was courted by the finest east coast Division III colleges and Division I-A, I-AA universities for his academic excellence and football prowess. However, after a personal visit by a West Point coach, Kevin’s dad dropped an application packet on the kitchen table. BOOM! “Fill this out!”
“Without blinking or thinking, I filled it out, signed it and mailed it!” It was a decision made by a boy that would soon mold the man.
After four arduous years of study and intense military training, Cadet Brown stood in a cavernous room with his classmates to “participate in the time honored tradition” of picking his first military assignment, according to class academic standing. Although his father had urged him to pursue military intelligence assignments, his lineage overcame him and he chose the 101st Airborne Division, Combat Infantry, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Life has a route that always leads forward, but at times returns us from whence we came. “I laughed at the remarkable turn of events that saw my first office located in a building that was 100 feet from the hospital where I was born.” Brown said while broadly smiling.
The years that followed were to see the young lieutenant go from leading a platoon of 200 troops to leading a task force of 1000 troops in Iraq. In 2006, Colonel Brown served as the operations officer with the 10th Mountain Division, home to as elite a fighting force as there is in the world. He eventually retired as garrison commander of Fort Riley, Kansas; acting as “mayor and city manager for 50,000 persons; to include soldiers and their families.”
Colonel Brown noted that leaving home for deployment is like leaving a base, in that it is where you leave from. And returning home from combat is the base where you return to. That base is the center of our lives.
A warrior does not relish combat; he or she is in it for purpose and cause – protection of our nation and its rights and freedoms. Colonel Brown, during both of his tours of duty in Iraq, did so relentlessly and with honor. He was known as “a soldier’s soldier” – an officer who led from the front, role modeling that which he commanded of his troops.
He takes justifiable pride in the results of that team effort approach. When asked if he accomplished the mission, he thoughtfully responded, “We fulfilled our Mission – We accomplished all that was asked of us….All paid a price, some returned home to a hero’s burial.”
Over 79 years have not diminished the imposing military bearing and command presence of Colonel John Leach, United States Army (ret.). He looks ready for service and would still command the respect and loyalty to follow into harm’s way.
A Hall of Fame football player at Westerly High School and the University of Rhode Island, John went forth to serve his nation in 1957 – he was decorated with a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and the Soldier Medal.
His Army career saw two tours in Vietnam as an Airborne Army Ranger – the first tour as a field commander, the second as an inserted combat advisor to Army of the Republic of Vietnam. He was stationed in Germany and South Korea. Many of his missions, operations and career achievements were covert – the results are obvious to this day. Suffice it to say Colonel Leach took a hammer to the Berlin Wall and sent an everlasting message to those who dared to invade the demilitarized zone in Korea.
The Colonel was one of the select few Army officers to attend the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. The college is the “Home of Thought” for senior military leaders. Upon graduation, Colonel Leach was assigned as an instructor at the college. The Colonel’s assignment there saw him pioneer the use of satellite and computer technology to enhance the effectiveness of soldiers in the field.
Retirement has seen the Colonel, wife Carol and daughter Patty return to establish a final base camp in his native Westerly, RI. The former Bulldog legend takes great joy in mentoring and cheering on the youth of his birthplace. His role modeling inspires new generations.
The Colonel offered this on the importance of Memorial Day – “I wear my Viet Vets Cap only on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. All of the year I seek to honor those in American history who made the ultimate sacrifice that our freedoms and rights would be preserved and flourish – Memorial Day is a yearly event honoring of the timeless sacrifice that our military made and continues to make, that we might live in freedom.”
A hero of few words whose life’s actions speak volumes – American Hero Colonel John Leach at Memorial Day.
Memorial Day, a day set aside to reflect on those who gave their lives for our country and died during active military service. This day has special meaning for many. None more so than Veterans who have fought for this country and witnessed their comrades in arms give the ultimate sacrifice; their life for our freedom.
One such Veteran is Allan Chase of Moosup. Allan served in the Army during the Vietnam War era. “I signed up right after graduation from high school, knowing that at age 19 I would be drafted anyway.” In March 1966, he found himself serving in Vietnam until March of the following year.
He served in the 1st Infantry of Adjutant General Corps of the Postal Division and was involved in combat operations where he was stationed.
Still proud of the American flag and the country for which he fought, he and his wife Gloria still fly a flag in honor of Memorial Day. “We put it up at half mast in the morning to honor the fallen, and then we fly it at full mast at noon to honor the living,” said Allan. When asked what Memorial Day means to him, he replied, “It is to honor those who sacrificed for the freedom of our nation.”
He is also very excited about the Memorial Day Veteran’s Concert that will be held on the evening of May 23, at the Plainfield High School auditorium. It will be co-sponsored with the high school music department. Seating is free, and everyone is invited to come and enjoy the concert. “There is even a surprise planned for the end of the concert,” said Allan. The Merchant Marines will also be recognized at the concert.
As a young boy growing up in Astoria Queens, New York, Ernie Treff would often venture to nearby North Beach Airport (known today as LaGuardia International). There he would spend countless hours watching aircraft taking off and landing. He dreamed on one day becoming a pilot.
Ernie pursued that dream by attending Manhattan High School of Aviation Training, graduating in 1940 at age 17 as a certified aircraft mechanic. When the United States became involved in World War II Ernie became eligible for the draft. With high demand for military pilots, the United States Congress passed a law requiring the training of 50,000 pilots per year to support the war effort. Included in the law was a provision that eliminated the requirement that all pilots had to have a college degree. That was all Ernie needed to hear.
In December 1942, at age 19, Ernie joined the U. S. Army Air Corps. He flew his first airplane, an open cockpit biplane. From there he progressed to more modern fighter planes and graduated from flight school earning a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in, April of 1944. He attended gunnery school at Bradley Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., where he learned to fly the P-47 Thunderbolt the plane he would later fly in combat.
In December 1944, at age 21, Ernie was shipped overseas. Stationed in England he was assigned to the 56th Fighter Group, 61st Squadron. Ernie flew numerous missions over Eastern Europe, Germany and France. By the end of the war he had amassed over 120 combat hours. His missions included air support for bombing missions and patrols over enemy territory. One of the more memorable missions was when his squadron destroyed 95 enemy aircraft over Eggenbach, Germany.
After the war Ernie returned home, married and began raising a family while at the same time serving in the reserves and National Guard until 1955. Ernie earned his engineering degree from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. He worked in the aerospace industry for Rockwell Corporation becoming Assistant Chief Engineer. In 1965 he took a job with Cottrell/Harris Corporation in Pawcatuck. He along with wife Muriel and five children moved to Mumford Cove in Groton. In 1985 he retired as Vice President of Engineering for Harris. Ernie never lost his passion for flying. He continued to fly his own aircraft for both business and pleasure until 1999. Muriel passed away in 2012 after 60 years of marriage.
At age 90, Ernie continues to live a very active life. He is always willing to share his vast knowledge of aviation history. An avid photographer since his teens he can often be found in his office going through his massive collection of photos including many he took during the war.