Veterans Corner

November 9, 2012

Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month Series

Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month – January 2016, William Edward Gimignani

Place of Birth: Torrington CT

Year of Birth: 1925

Military Branch of Service: U.S. Marine Corps

Enlisted, Commissioned, or drafted?: Tried to enlist in the Marines at age 17, but was turned down because of mild hearing loss. Drafted at age 18 and allowed to choose the U.S. Marine Corps.

Service Dates: April 1943 to April 1946

Highest Rank: Corporal

Military Job: Infantryman

Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship, Etc.: 5th Marine Division

War, Operation, or Conflict served in: WWII Invasion of Iwo Jima, Occupation of Japan

Locations of Service: Parris Island, Camp Pendleton, Hawaii, Iwo Jima, Nagasaki Sasebo and Kyushu Japan

Battles/Campaigns: Iwo Jima

Decorations: Sharp shooter

Combat or service-related injuries: After Iwo Jima was taken and all enemies thought killed, a group of Japanese came out from underground and blew up the ammunition dump where Bill was working. The explosion severely damaged his hearing.

Family info (spouse, children?):

Lives with his companion of many years, Frances Hoffnagle

Has one daughter: Susan Lukas, as well as two granddaughters and four great-grandsons

Occupation after military service: Deputy Warden at Cheshire Reformatory; Captain and Training Officer at the Hamden academy for correction officers

Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month – November 2015, Mark Jurras

Name: Mark Jurras
Place of Birth: Montpelier, Vermont
Date of Birth: 1924
Military Branch of Service: Army
Enlisted, Commissioned, or Drafted? Drafted
Service Dates: WWII Service: March 24, 1943 through December 8, 1945
Highest Rank: Enlisted service during WWII: Technical Sgt. (T-4), ROTC service: Lt. Col/Battalion Commander, Post-war reserve service: Major (Retired)
Military Job:

  • Initial Duty at Fort Devens in 1943, immediately after being drafted: Rebagging oats.
  • After the 776th Anti-Aircraft Auto Weapons Battalion was formed, assignment became Battalion Headquarters Clerk.
  • Note: The 776th Battalion was a semi mobile unit, meaning that it was capable of moving to meet demands but did not have the transport vehicles as part of the unit. The battalion included 32 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft cannons on wheeled gun carriages, and 32 Quad-Fifty trailers, each holding four .50 caliber machine guns.


  • Prepare and send Daily Manpower Reports to Group Headquarters
  • Prepare Battalion and Battalion Commander’s correspondence
  • Process Officer transfers within the Battalion
  • Attended and recorded proceedings of court martials
  • Prepared and forwarded paperwork for five casualties
  • Played thousands of hands of cribbage with the battalion’s Colonel while waiting for reports of action from the four gun batteries.

Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship, etc.: 776th Anti-Aircraft Auto Weapons Battalion (Semi Mobile)

War, Operation, or Conflict served in: World War II
Locations of Service:

  • Fort Devens, Massachusetts: Battalion formed here
  • Fort Fisher, North Carolina: Training
  • Blackstone, Virginia: Maneuvers
  • Scotland: Arrived in the European theater
  • Wales: Arrived by train, and drew equipment
  • Southwest England: Protecting invasion fleet
  • Omaha Beach: Landed about 30 days after D-Day
  • France: Moved frequently as the Allies worked towards Germany
  • Belgium: One night during the Battle of the Bulge
  • Germany: Continued supporting the Allied advance, and moved to Munich to support the occupation

Battles/Campaigns: Battle of Britain, Invasion of France, France and Germany campaigns

Combat or service-related injuries:
None, but in his words: “I spent several days in a Paris hospital for an ingrown toenail and an impacted wisdom tooth… My main concern was catching up with my unit! I was dropped off when my unit was passing through Paris during the exciting celebration of freedom from the German occupation.”

Military Schools/Training:

  • All experience in military schools was post war, starting with ROTC at the University of Vermont.
  • Six week Intelligence School program at Fort Holabird in Baltimore, Maryland in 1953
  • Reserve training for Army Field Press Censor through membership in Hartford CT’s Reserve unit

Family Info: Married Mary Elizabeth Abernethy in October 1955; Three children: daughter, Susan in Albuquerque with her husband and daughter; son, Mark III, in Canton with his wife, son, and daughter; and daughter, Amy, in Weatogue with her husband, son and daughter.

Community Activities and Volunteer Work :
Solicited funds for Hartford Community Chest
Active member of Junior Chamber of Commerce of Hartford and worked at the first ever Hartford Golf Tournament
Member of Springfield, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Aviation Committee.
Active member of the Rotary Club in Springfield, Missouri.

Occupation after military service:

Accident and Health Underwriter: Connecticut Life Insurance

  • Royal Typewriter: Plant in Hartford, Connecticut:
  • Manager of Employee Health Insurance Program
  • Manager of Employee Accident Insurance
  • Manager of Management Development
  • Assigned to team building new plant in Springfield, Missouri
  • New plant in Springfield, Missouri:
  • Employee Relations Manager
  • Plant manager
  • Friden Calculator Company, San Leandro, California, VP of Employee Relations
  • Singer Company, Business Machines Division, VP of Employee Relations. Worked at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City
    • Stanadyne Corporation, Windsor, Connecticut, VP of Employee Relations, Retired in 1990

    Mark Jurras was born on May 4th in 1924, as the 9:30PM curfew siren rang in Montpelier Vermont. He attended elementary and high school in Montpelier, and first went to work at Blakely Drug Store during his junior year of high school. After graduating high school, he began studies at Vermont Junior College on a small scholarship. A local dentist in the Reserves volunteered his time, and taught the students to march. It was his contribution to the early American war effort, knowing the knowledge would ease their entrance into military training.

    A draft notice in March of 1943 announced the beginning of Mark’s experience in World War II. After being chosen as Acting Corporal on the trip from the Montpelier courthouse to Fort Devens, Massachusetts, he was assigned to be the battalion headquarters clerk for the 776th Anti Aircraft Auto Weapons Battalion. A year later in March of 1944, he sailed to England with the battalion. Their task: guard the growing fleet preparing for the D-Day invasion. A month after the invasion, he accompanied his unit across the English Channel.

    From July 1944 until the end of the war, Mark and the 776th moved across Europe, providing anti-aircraft defense for forward fighter bases. These bases were located close to the battle lines, and during the Battle of the Bulge the German counterattack came to within about 10 miles of the 776th and the airfields they defended. Following the final battles of the European theater, Mark participated in the occupation of Germany from September to November of 1945 then returned to Vermont. During the occupation, Mark toured the Dachau concentration camp in Munich. General Eisenhower insisted on American soldiers viewing the concentration camps, knowing that in the future witnesses would be needed to preserve the memory of the Holocaust.

    Upon returning to Vermont, he enrolled in the University of Vermont under the brand-new G.I. Bill. After depleting wartime savings, the $27 a month ROTC stipend became attractive, and Mark signed on. He graduated in 1949, turned down an active duty commission, and entered the Army Reserve instead. He began work at Connecticut General as an Accident and Health Underwriter.

    Seeking a different challenge, Mark accepted an Employee Relations position with Royal Typewriter. While working there, he married Mary Elizabeth Abernethy in 1955. Soon he was assigned to a team to build and staff a new plant in Springfield, MO. He accepted the challenge and was named to the position of Manager of Employee Relations for the new plant. While in Springfield, Mark was promoted to Major in the Reserve. While working at the new plant, he studied for and earned an MBA at Drury University. Shortly after graduation, he was named Plant Manager.

    An opportunity to become Vice President of Employee Relations for Friden Calculator Company arose, and Mark and his family moved to the Bay Area in California. The Singer Company, which was seeking a new product line, appeared on the scene, bought Friden and eventually formed a new “Business Machines Division.” Four years into the project, the Division Headquarters was moved to Singer’s home office located at Rockefeller Plaza.

    The President, the Vice President of Marketing, and Mark were transferred to Singer Headquarters in NYC. Mark traveled extensively, but the commute by train to and from Westport, CT became intolerable due to constant breakdowns, freezing train cars, and long delays. Following a brief search, Mark accepted the position of Vice President of Employee Relations for Stanadyne, Inc. whose Corporate Headquarters was in Windsor, CT. He retired in January 1990.

    Mark’s military career had come to a close earlier, after retiring from the U.S. Army Reserve with 20 years of combined WWII and reserve service. He and his wife Elizabeth raised 3 children, and were married 52 years. Mark and Elizabeth moved to Canton, Connecticut in 1996. His wife Elizabeth passed away in 2008 and Mark continues to live in Canton.

    Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month – October 2015, Darrell Stark

    Place of Birth: Wilson, Oklahoma

    Year of Birth: 1923

    Military Branch of Service: Army

    Enlisted, Commissioned, or Drafted: Enlisted

    Service Dates: 3/5/1941 – 10/5/1945

    Highest Rank: Corporal

    Military Job: Heavy weapons carrier – M Company

    Darrell Stark Veteran of the Month

    Duties: Supplied materials for 30 caliber machine gun

    Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship, etc.: 31st Infantry Regiment, Philippine Division, 4th Battalion

    War, Operation, or Conflict served in: World War II

    Locations of Service: Philippines

    Battles/Campaigns: Defense of Bataan Peninsula

    Darrell Stark Veteran of the Month

    Decorations: Purple Heart, American Defense Service Ribbon with one Bronze Star, Distinquished Unit Badge with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal, Philippines Defense Ribbon with one Bronze Star, Asiatic Pacific Medal with One bronze Service Star

    Combat or service-related injuries: loss of hearing right ear, cheap penal wounds left side in rib

    POW: yes

    Military Schools/Training: Boot camp

    Name of Post: Cortel Dispania, Manila, Philippine Islands

    Family info: Spouse Judy is deceased, three children: Darrell, Darlene, Judy

    Community activities: Speaking to school students and veterans organizations, coached little league

    Occupation after military service: Jail Warden, Department of Corrections, reaching the rank of Captain

    Volunteer work: speaks at schools and veterans organizations

    Bio/Narrative/memorable events: Born and raised in Oklahoma and various other places, by two loving parents, with two sisters and four brothers (one sister was born while Darrell was a POW)

    Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month – September 2015, Theodore R. Marolda

    Name: Theodore R. Marolda

    Place of Birth: Winsted CT

    Date of Birth: May 6, 1923

    Military Branch of Service: United States Marine Corps

    Enlisted, Commissioned, or drafted?: Enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor

    Service Dates: Sworn in Jan 3, 1942 – Discharged Jan, 1946

    Highest Rank: Gunnery Sergeant (then called Tech Sergeant)

    Military Job: Amphibian Trackers

    Duties: Transport men and material ship to shore during landings then resupply and back up infantry once ashore.

    Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship, Etc. (Please do not abbreviate): A Company, First Amphibian Tractor Battalion, First Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force
    War, Operation, or Conflict served in: World War II

    Locations of Service: South Pacific Theater of Operations

    Battles/Campaigns: Guadalcanal (landed on day one of the first American offensive operation of WW11), New Guinea and Cape Gloucester (earned four battle stars)

    Decorations: Four Battle stars, Unit Presidential Citation

    Combat or service-related injuries: Concussion (bomb explosion during air raid on Guadalcanal), Malaria (multiple times) Jaundice.

    Family info (spouse, children?): Wife Margret Marolda (Carol) deceased 5 years, married 65 years. Five Children, three sons and two daughters (Dr. Theodore Marolda DDS, Lawrence Marolda, David Marolda, Margret Halloran and Carol Nardi). Eleven Grand children and two great grandchildren.

    Volunteer work:

    • Raised money for the Catholic Church.
    • Raised money for the new catholic school.
    • Led the effort to raise money for the town’s World War II memorial and did the dedication of the completed monument.
    • Involved in the boy scouts.
    • President of the Kiwanis club for multiple years.
    • Organized and ran the annual Kiwanis tag sail to raise money for scholarships for 25 years. Helped finish construction of a roof for a fellow member of the Marine Corps league when the one armed Korean war veteran injured his good arm while building his roof.
    • Chaired the catholic schools annual snow ball committee (multiple times) and provided much of the materials for decorations and donated his and his employees labor to the effort.
    • Board member of the Winsted savings bank. Board member of the Salvation Army. Chairman of the board for the Winsted town bicentennial committee (1972) and the same for the US bicentennial 1n 1976 (also donated the labor of his employees and children to make these events happen).
    • Active member of the Elks Club, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Marine Corps League.
    • Two-time president of the Chamber of Commerce (including during the great flood of 1955 and the ensuing rebuilding effort.
    • Chaired the committee for the towns annual Laurel Festival at least five times (again donating the labor of his employees and children).
    • Donated generously to virtually every local fund raising effort for over forty years.
    • Spoke about the war and the great depression at the Gilbert school and at Ms. Porters in Farmington.

    Bio/Narrative/memorable events (information provided by child of Marolda):


    As you may be begging to gather from reading the previous section my father’s biography reads like a novel about a uniquely American success story.

    My father was born in 1923 and came of age during the great depression. He was the youngest of twelve children in a relatively poor family headed by Italian immigrant parents.

    When his father had a stroke, when he was 16, my father left school to go to work and help support the family. By then it was already obvious to family and friends that he was going to be somebody.

    When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor my father enlisted in the Marine Corps the next day. At his request he was actually inducted a few weeks later after the holidays (he was 18 years old).

    Within months he and two regiments the First Marine division were on their way to the Solemn islands, after abbreviated training. They landed on Guadalcanal in early August 1942. It was the first US offensive action of WWII, the first D-Day of the war. The Japanese, who until that time had gone from victory to victory, reacted violently. The Japanese navy drove the US navy from the waters around Guadalcanal before the US supply ships were done unloading the Marine’s equipment and most of their food. The men would have starved but for captured Japanese rations.


    What followed was a still legendary six-month land, air and sea battle. At one point the military was going to abandon the effort to support the forces on the island and leave the men to their fate. It took the direct intervention of President Roosevelt to save them (he did not believe that the morale of the country could stand another defeat).

    My father and his comrades suffered from malnutrition, malaria and a sense of abandonment. For the first months after the landing the Japanese had control of the air and the sea. Consequently they were able to bomb and shell the Marines at will, including the most severe bombardment of the entire war on any front when a number of Japanese battle ships with barges of spare 14 inch shells dropped over a thousand 14 inch shells onto the American positions during a single evening. My father spent that night hugging the ground as he and his group were burying ammunition stores and arrived back to late to dig in before the shells began to hit.

    The Japanese made several major attempts to recapture the Island. All were beaten off with heavy fighting and casualties. My father had malaria and jaundice. He has a ringing in his ears to this day from a bomb that killed two of his friends who were a split second behind him as they all dove for a bunker during an air raid.


    He went on to two more landings on New Ginny and Cape Gloucester before returning to California in January of 1945 after more than two and a half years in the pacific. When he left the Corps in January of 1946 he was a Gunnery Sergeant and the Marines (at a time when the force was releasing men by the hundreds of thousands) offered to make him a Master Sergeant if he would reenlist. As he had married my mother the previous January he declined.

    My mother, the former Margret Carol, was the girl he had been seeing since he was 15 and she was 14. He had married the most beautiful woman in town. She was so remarkably attractive that my high school friends admitted to me that they used to come over to my house to stare at my mom (this was when she was in her early fifties). They were together and very obviously in love until her death in 2009, shortly before their 65th anniversary. When, later in life she had developed Alzheimer’s disease my father cared for her himself with very little assistance. He was able to keep her at home until the final three days of her life. He has a will of iron.


    Upon his return to Winsted in 1946 he and his brother Ed (WWII veteran US Army) started Winsted Floor Covering and employed a third brother, Victor (WWII veteran US Navy). For the first year and a half they were in business my father also worked third shift at the brass mill he had worked at before the war. By then he had two sons. Within a few years they were able to buy the Winsted furniture company. They combined the furniture store with the floor covering business into what was then the largest retail establishment in Litchfield County. He ran the business for 35 years until his retirement in 1985.

    My father was a major civic leader in Winsted and chaired, at one time or another, every committee worth mentioning in town, President of the Chamber of Commerce etc. He is extremely well respected and the example of his WWII service directly lead a good number of the friends of his children to emulate him and enlist in the service, most in the Marine Corps.

    Along the way he fathered a third boy and two daughters. He was extremely successful and was able to help all five of his children with college and at multiple other points in their lives. He has eleven grandchildren and two great grandchildren and is a towering figure and example in their lives and has, at times, provided assistance with their educations.


    In 2009, in what is likely the last significant act of his long civic career, he and his two brothers were parade marshals of the Memorial Day parade. They appeared in full uniform and represented WWII vets of all three branches of the service. My father’s uniform was his actual WWII Marine dress greens.

    Today he is 92 and more active than most men 15 or 20 years his junior. He is an avid reader of history and as smart as a whip. He lives independently in the same eight-room house he has lived in for the last 65 years. A few months ago Ralf Nader was in town for an event at the Winsted historical society. He spent most of the evening speaking to my father who was a friend and contemporary of his parents in Winsted (thankfully they did not talk politics as they would not agree on much).

    He did pretty well for a poor Italian kid with a ninth grade education.

    Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month – August 2015, Leah D. Ward

    Name: Leah D Ward

    Place of Birth: York, PA

    Military Branch of Service: 1993-2000, US Army Reserves, 2000-2013 US Air Force Reserves, 2013 to present, CT Air National Guard

    Enlisted, Commissioned, or drafted?: Enlisted 1993-2001, Commissioned in 2001 2Lt

    Service Dates: 1993 to present

    Highest Rank: Major

    Military Job: 1993-2000 medic, 2000 to present Registered Nurse

    Duties: Assisted on deployments in processing patients for aeromedical evacuation

    Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship, Etc.: Currently 103rd Air Wing Medical Group, Bradley ANG, previously 439th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Westover ARB

    War, Operation, or Conflict served in: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) deployment to Kuwait in 2004-2005 to process patients being aeromedically evacuated for treatment, later in 2010 to Germany to receive patients from Iraq/Afghanistan to further process for return to home station for treatment.

    Locations of Service: Kuwait, Germany deployments

    Battles/Campaigns: OIF/OEF support

    Decorations: Many routine decorations, most notably the Air Force Achievement medal, Global War on Terror, and Global War on Terror-Expeditionary.

    Military Schools/Training: Army Basic training 1993, Primary Leadership Development 1998, Commissed Officer Training 2001, Aeromedical Evacuation training course 2001, Survival Escape Resistance Evasion course 2001, Squadron Officer School 2005, Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility course 2001, 2004, 2009, Air Command and Staff College 2010-2013 for MA in Military Operational Art and Science degree

    Name of Post: VFW Post 296, served as Jr. Vice Commander since 2006

    Family info (spouse, children?): Married to Master Sergeant Daniel Ward, USMCR. They have two boys Walter, age 7, Henry age 3.


    Community activities: Bagpiper for Police Pipes and Drums of Waterbury; provide law enforcement support for funerals, celebrations, fundraisers, ceremonies; VFW Post 296 Jr Vice Commander; currently arranging cemetery cleanups for Revolutionary War era cemeteries that are in very poor condition to better respect those that gave us our country.

    Occupation after military service: Visiting nurse, going to school now for Nurse Practitioner

    Memorable Event: Once while deployed in Kuwait, my husband’s commander’s supervisor came through as a patient. Thankful for the hospitality he received he repaid me by pulling my husband out of Iraq over Christmas for my promotion ceremony to Captain. Dan showed up on an aircraft in the middle of the night. This is the story for the grandchildren. Sadly, however, he was placed on an angel flight sitting next to the ones that didn’t make it home.

    Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month – May 2015, Robert Roberts

    Name: Robert E. Roberts

    Place of Birth: Enterprise, Oregon

    Date of Birth: November 6, 1947

    Military Branch of Service: U.S. Navy Submarine Service

    Enlisted, Commissioned, or Drafted?: Enlisted

    Service Dates: May 23, 1967 – April 23, 1971

    Highest Rank: Engineman Petty Officer, 2nd Class

    Military Job: Ran and serviced diesel engines

    Duties: Supervised, ran and performed maintenance on main propulsion Diesel engines aboard Submarine.

    Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship, etc.: USS Halfbeak (SS 352)

    War, Operation, Conflict: Vietnam

    Locations of Service: Homeported at New London/Groton, CT

    Decorations: National Defense Medal, Navy Good Conduct Medal (3), Navy Overseas Medal, Navy Sharpshooter Medal, Rifle and Pistol, Qualified in Submarine Warfare Dolphins Pin

    Combat or service-related injuries: Loss of hearing in both ears, VA certified service related injury due to engine room noise.

    Military Schools/Training: Boot camp in San Diego, California; Engineman A school in Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Chicago; Enlisted Submarine School, Groton, Connecticut; Requisites on board training on the USS Halfbeak (SS352)

    Name of Post: Tomalonis Hall Post 84, American Legion, Simsbury, Connecticut

    Family Info: Linda, wife of 43 years; Daughter Lisa (36); Son John (32); Granddaughters Kaylee (7), Willow (4), Rowan (2)

    Community Activities: Past Commander (4 times), American Legion; Past Director, Talcott Mountain Music Festival, Simsbury; Past Grand Knight, Knights of Columbus,; Longtime joint organizer of Simsbury’s Memorial Day Parades and Veterans Day programs.

    Occupation after military service: Started work as a lineman apprentice with Hartford Electric Light Co. 1 month after discharge from Navy. Worked way up to supervisory position with Connecticut Light and Power Co. in Hartford and Simsbury offices.

    From Robert: “I have been fortunate to have a wonderful, supportive wife and we have raised both our children in our beautiful community of Simsbury. I am indeed honored to have served in one of the most elite divisions of the US Navy, that of the Submarine Service. I have served with men who became lifelong friends and my wife and I continue to go to reunions as time permits. My children are products of the wonderful Simsbury school system, one of the reasons we decided to settle in town. I retired from Connecticut Light and Power Co. in 2010, but continued work with them as a construction representative for 2 years after retirement. CL&P was a very good company to work for and I really lucked out after leaving the Navy. My wife is retiring from teaching at the end of this school year and we plan on traveling to see friends and family.”

    Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month – April 2015, Warren Sullivan, Sr.

    Veteran of the Month – Warren Sullivan, Sr. – April 2015

    Name: Warren Sullivan, Sr.

    Place of Birth: Winsted, CT

    Date of Birth: July 9, 1925

    Military Branch of Service: U.S. Navy

    Enlisted, Commissioned or Drafted?: Drafted. Originally tried to enlist but was too young.

    Service Dates: August 1943 – November 1945

    Highest Rank: Motor Machinist Mate 3rd Class (MOMM3)

    Military Jobs: Changed electrical generators every 24 hours on ship; lowered and raised ramp to get equipment on and off ship

    Duties: Handled Thompson submachine guns; underwater repair of ship

    Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship, etc.: 7th Fleet, 7th Amphibious Forces, 1205 Landing Crafts/Tanks Ship (LTC) 120LTC

    War, Operation, or Conflict served in: World War II

    Location of Service: Philippines, South Pacific, Mindanao, New Hebrides, Kadabado River

    Battles/Campaigns: South Pacific Campaign

    Decorations: American Theater, Asiatic Pacific, Philippine Liberation, Liberty Medal, Battle Star for Philippine Liberation

    Combat or service-related injuries: Illness – meningitis, treated at Bethesda Naval Hospital (given last rites prematurely); illness left Sullivan with a bad hip and epilepsy

    Military Schools/Training: Diesel training – Navy Pier Great Lakes Chicago; Basic – Samson, NY

    Family: Sullivan was married to Ellen (Sager) Sullivan, mother of his four children, for 33 years before she died of lung cancer. Sullivan’s second wife, Eugenia (Hislop) Sullivan passed away in 2014 after 27 years of marriage

    Community Activities: VFW Winsted, Odd Fellows, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Second Congregational Church, Winsted.

    Occupation after military service: Tool and die maker

    About Warren: Warren Sullivan, Sr., was attending The Gilbert School in Winsted when the United States entered World War II. Eager to volunteer, his parents wouldn’t sign for him to enlist, so he had to wait to be drafted when he reached age 18. He left school during his senior year to join the U.S. Navy.

    During his training, he became ill with meningitis and fell into a coma. A Catholic priest came in to give him the last rites and his parents were notified. He beat the odds, though. He came out of the coma and went on to complete his training and to serve his country with distinction and honor.

    After his discharge in 1945, he returned to Winsted and returned to The Gilbert School to complete his high school education.

    Warren came from a family of 13 siblings, who all were born and raised in Winsted. He and only two of his siblings are still alive. The home where he spent a good part of his childhood is located next door to the Winsted VFW hall. In fact, the VFW is located on land formerly owned by his family. He is now 89 years old and still lives in the same house where he raised his children.

    He married Ellen Sager and had four children, Colleen Gundlach, Warren Sullivan, Jr., Sharon Okraska and Gail Leifert-Lymperopoulous. Ellen died in 1981 from lung cancer. His second wife, Eugenia Hislop, passed away last year.

    Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month – March 2015, John Romano

    March 2015 Veteran of the Month – John Romano

    Name: John Romano

    Place of Birth: Bronx, New York

    Date of Birth: February 6, 1945

    Military Branch of Service: United States Air Force

    Enlisted, Commissioned or Drafted?: Enlisted

    Service Dates: Entry 4/27/1965 – Discharge 6/23/1969

    Highest Rank: E6 Tech Sergeant

    Military Jobs: “ARS” Air Rescue Service

    Duties: Para Jumper (PJ) Rescue – Rescued downed pilots/crew, ground troops and other military members. Also served as a PJ instructor

    Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship, etc.: 13th Air Force, 37th Division, “MAC” Military Airlift Command

    War, Operation, or Conflict served in: Vietnam

    Location of Service: Vietnam bases of operation: Nha Trang, Phu Cat, Pleiku, Da Nang

    Battles/Campaigns: Daily Rescue Missions

    Decorations: National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Overseas Service Medal (2), Combat Ready Service medal, Air Force Combat Action

    Combat or service-related injuries: Injured on final mission, left leg and back

    Military Schools/Training: Lackland Air Force Base, Tinker Air Force Base, Hamilton Air Force Base, Edwards Air Force Base, Travis Air Force Base
    About John

    John Romano was born in the Bronx, NY in 1945. He always knew he wanted to join the Air Force.

    Romano graduated from high school in 1963 and quickly went for his examination to determine his eligibility to be drafted. After about a year, Romano had not heard back from the military on his draft status, so he took it upon himself to enlist in the Air Force. As luck would have it, he received draft notification from the army a week later, but he stuck with the Air Force.

    He began training in Lackland, Texas and eventually was sent to a Strategic Air Command (SAC) base in state. But Romano wanted to go to Vietnam to serve his country, so he decided to become involved in air rescue, and went through heavy training to prepare for his new role as a para jumper (PJ) rescuer.

    In Vietnam Romano flew on a Sikorsky HH3C “Jolly Green.” He was trained to harness and descend into war zones to rescue fellow military members, sometimes even venturing into the very dangerous Cambodia. He would perform immediate first aid on the ground before lifting back up with the rescued.

    Vietnam presented many challenges to the military and put Romano in some very frightening situations.

    “Our technology was not meant to work under trees, under bushes,” Romano explained. “But the scariest moments was after I got everyone up and was on my way back.”

    There were many para jumpers that were killed in action, Romano explained. Sometimes when para jumpers reached the ground to rescue someone they were faced with close ground combat. And when they were lifting up or dropping down they were easy targets for the enemy.

    Romano served a total of 11 months and 21 days in country. At one point after about seven months, he went to Bangkok for rest and recuperation, but wanted to go back to Vietnam where he felt there was still more work to do. His service eventually ended after he was injured in his final rescue mission, when his pilot lifted up quickly while under fire and Romano’s line snapped, temporarily paralyzing his legs and back.

    “Coming home was terrible,” Roman told Witkos, as he explained the feeling of losing a number of childhood friends who didn’t make it back.

    One of the worst things about returning home from Vietnam was the disdain many people had for the military at the time, Romano said.

    “Giving up my life for a while, being in harm’s way for the good of freedom for people, I never felt was wrong, but others did. And I still don’t feel that that was wrong. That was just something that we did,” Romano explained. “We were Americans… we were always trying to help people out.”

    But Romano recognizes that today times are different. He also has a message for people considering joining the military today to serve our country and people around the world.

    “Joining the military and being a part of what this country does is one of the greatest things you can do.”

    Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month- February 2015, Leonard G. Lanza, Ph. D.

    Leonard G. Lanza, Ph.D.

    Place of Birth:
    New Britain, CT

    Date of Birth:
    July 14, 1937

    Military Branch of Service:
    United States Navy

    Enlisted, Commissioned, or Drafted?:

    Service Dates:
    1/23/56 – 2/9/65 (Enlisted/Discharged)
    7/31/61 – 7/30/63 (Active Duty)
    Nine days prior to Lanza’s scheduled active duty in 1956, he was a passenger in an auto accident. It took the Navy 6 years to find him physically fit for active duty. Some of that time included college deferments. Lanza was discharged and reenlisted simultaneously so that he would have sufficient time to serve his active duty obligation.

    Highest Rank:
    Yeoman third class/YN3 (E-4)

    Military Job:
    Court Reporter/ Legal Yeoman


    • Held U.S. Navy Legal Office mid management positions at sea and on flagships (carried admiral) and at shore installation (with admiral)
    • Prepared all shipboard and command legal proceedings and maintained files.
    • Performed the duties as court reporter for courts martial and administrative hearings, prepared verbatim records of trail

    Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship etc.:
    USS Boston (CAG-1) (8/61-6/62)
    Commander Cruiser Destroyer Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet
    USS Yosemite (AD-19) (6/62-7/63)

    War, Operation, or Conflict served in:

    • Berlin Crisis (1961)
    • Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)
    • Vietnam (Not in the country)

    Locations of Service:

    • Mediterranean Sea
    • Caribbean Sea
    • Atlantic Ocean


    • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Berlin Crisis)
    • Navy Expeditionary Medal (Cuban Missile Crisis)
    • National Defense Medal (Vietnam)
    • Joint Services Commendation Medal (Cuban Missile Crisis)
    • Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Medal
    • Connecticut Veterans War Time Service Medal

    Military Schools/Training:
    Naval Justice School, Newport, RI (9/61-11-/61)

    Name of Post:

    • Veterans of Foreign Wars Metacomet Post 1926, Simsbury (Immediate Past Commander)
    • Tomalonis-Hall American Legion Post 84, Simsbury (Past Adjutant)

    Bio/Narrative/Memorable Events:

    From Leonard G. Lanza:

    I was born and spent the first twenty-four years of life in a third floor apartment in downtown New Britain, the middle child of three children. I started shining shoes on Main St. at the age of seven, and I did that until I switched to delivering eighty afternoon newspapers a day for the New Britain Herald at age ten.

    I joined the Navy at age eighteen, requested immediate active duty, and I finally reported for active duty at age twenty-four. Many medical and college deferments filled the interning years. I was no longer the gung ho eighteen year old playboy. I was married to my high school sweetheart, we had a two year old son, and I was a college graduate (CCSU). Uncle Sam told me if he wanted me to have a wife and son he would put them in my sea bag. I worked full-time in a local factory while also attending college full-time.

    Since being discharged from active duty and moving to Simsbury in 1961, Lanza has accomplished the following:

    • Education
      • Received a M.Ed. from the University of Hartford, 1966 (Educational Administration + supervision)
      • 6th year certificate, University of Hartford, 1974
      • Ph.D.- Florida State, 1976 (Design and Management of School Systems) – Included sabbatical leave from Simsbury, moving family to Florida to complete residency requirements and having a twenty hour per week teaching assistantship
    • Served nineteen plus years as Simsbury Schools Administrator
      • Principal, Latimer Lane school (3 ½ years)
      • Principal, Tariffville School (9 years)
      • Vice Principal- Henry James Memorial School (2 ½ years)
      • Director, system wide program for intellectual gifted (started program with twenty-six 6th grade students – grew to 450 K-8 students)
    • Served thirteen years as Superintendent of Schools in the towns of Barkhamsted, Colebrook, and Norfolk
    • University teaching (part-time)
      • St. Joseph College (3 years) teaching reading and language arts
      • Central Connecticut State University (1998-98) teaching educational administration and school finance
    • Filled nine interim superintendent of schools positions. Since retiring in 1995, Lanza set a State of Connecticut record when he completed his ninth interim superintendent role in 2011.
    • Educational consultant position (18 ½ years) – From 1996 to the present, Lanza has served as a part- time consultant to the Policy Department at Connecticut Association Boards of Education (CABE)

    Community involvement:

    • Secretary, Simsbury Charter Commission (1st) – 1978-80
    • Veterans of Foreign Wars (19 years) – immediate past commander
    • American Legion (17 years) – Trustee, past adjutant
    • Memorial Day and Veterans Day Ceremonies
      • Grand Marshall
      • Speaker
      • Master of Ceremonies
    • Color guard/ honor guard
    • Wreaths Across America – color guard/ wreath bearer annually
    • Simsbury Veterans Memorial
      • Originator of statement of need and development of concept
      • Chairman of Committee (75 meetings to date) which had evolved through selection of architect/ land planner, design, location, local approval processes, fundraising and anticipated construction and completion in 2015.

    Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month- December 2014, E-7 Chief Petty Officer Arthur W. Melycher

    Arthur W. Melycher

    Place of Birth:
    Danbury, CT

    Date of Birth:

    Military Branch of Service:
    U.S. Navy

    Enlisted, Commissioned, or drafted?:

    Service Dates:
    August 1967-August 1989

    Highest Rank:
    E-7 Chief Petty Officer

    Military Jobs Held:
    Executive Officer
    Command Chief
    Officer Recruiting
    Drug & Alcohol Counselor

    Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship, etc.:
    USS Compton DD 705
    USS Zellars DD777
    USS Eugene A Green DD 711
    Region Readiness Command 20
    Naval & Marine Corps Reserve Center, Hartford
    Naval Station, New Orleans
    Staten Island, New York

    War, Operation or Conflict served in:
    Vietnam era

    Locations of Service:
    Destroyers, Norfolk, VA; Newport, RI; Boston, MA

    Good Conduct
    Meritorious Service
    Expert Pistol
    Expert Rifle
    National Defense
    Navy & Marine Corps Medal

    Name of Post:
    American Legion Post 43 Tuttle-Burns

    Volunteer Experience:
    Winsted town volunteer for the American Legion Soldiers and Sailors Marine’s Fund:

    Bio/Memorable Events:
    Arthur Melycher, a Winsted resident, joined the military in 1967, right out of high school during the Vietnam War. As a graduate of Henry Abbott Technical High School in Danbury, Melycher wanted to take his experience learning to be a machinist to the Navy. While he never ended up working as a Machinery Repairman, he did rise in the ranks in a job he loved.

    Melycher first went to boot camp in Great Lakes, IL and was then assigned to an aviation squadron at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. For 9 months he made flights to Vietnam for deliveries to soldiers. He was then transferred to a destroyer ship in Boston. While stationed on various destroyers, Melycher worked in administration and escorted three squadrons across the Atlantic Ocean, once even making a trip through a hurricane. In his role, he worked directly with the captain and others in command, which kept him “in the know” at all times.

    After the war Melycher continued serving. He worked with POWs for 6 months and then became active in recruiting, especially for the medical field. He had a 22 year military career before retiring in 1989. After retirement, it was important to Melycher that he stay involved. He found his way to military honors and began performing military funerals, which he continues to do to this day. He has also been a commander of his American Legion Post since 1990 and is the Winsted town volunteer for the Soldiers and Sailors Marine’s Fund.

    Melycher says the highlight of his career has and always will be helping other veterans.

    Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month- November 2014, Corporal Norman C. Southergill

    • Name: Norman C. Southergill
    • Date of Birth: June 29, 1924
    • Town: Manchester, CT
    • Military Branch of Service: US Army Combat Engineers
    • Enlisted, Commissioned, or drafted?: Enlisted
    • Service Dates: 3/16/43 – 11/25/45
    • Highest Rank: Corporal
    • Military Job: Working with Combat Engineers to make way for infantry to advance in combat zones; i.e. building roads, building and/or destroying bridges, destroying land mines
    • Duties: Tool room keeper; member of Company A online
    • Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship, Etc.: 150th Engineer Combat Battalion
    • War, Operation, or Conflict served in: World War II
    • Locations of Service: Fort Devens, Massachusetts; Elkins, West Virgina; Fort Dix, New Jersey; Clifton Heath and Swindon, England; Normandy, France; Cancy, Belgium; Czechoslovakia
    • Battles/Campaigns: Twentieth Corps
    • Decorations: 5 Campaign Stars, Purple Heart, Good Conduct
    • Combat or service-related injuries: Both knees injured when hit by a cable which was hit by a mortar shell and snapped back, hitting Southergill across the knees
    • Military Schools/Training: Basic Training at Fort Devens, MA
    • Name of Post: Gildo T. Consolini Post 3272 Avon, CT

    Bio/Narrative: Norm Southergill was born in Manchester Connecticut and at the age of 16 tried to enlist in the navy. The year was 1941 and Pearl Harbor was right around the corner. The Navy refused to take him because of his stutter, a tick that developed after his father passed away when Norm was only 12 years old. Norm was eventually able to join the Connecticut State Guard and in March 1943, he and most of his male classmates from Manchester High School Class of ’42 were sent to Fort Devens, Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, Norm became a member of a new Combat Engineer Battalion, the 150th. Surviving ten months in combat in Europe, he returned home, married his sweetheart Lucy and raised a family. Norm also became a business owner and ran Norm’s Tire Shop on East Main Street for 25 years. He was a founder of the Avon Chamber of Commerce and charter member of the Avon Historical Society. Norm is now retired and living in Farmington, Connecticut. In July 2006 Norm published A Combat Engineer Remembers – a book sharing an account of his life and service during World War II.

    Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month- October 2014, Ralph Murphy

    • Name: Ralph G. Murphy
    • Date of Birth: 7/24/1919
    • Town: New York City, NY (Bronx)
    • Military Branch of Service: Army
    • Enlisted, Commissioned, or drafted?: Drafted
    • Service Dates: August 1941 – September 1945 (allowed to finish his final semester at Fordham University before reporting)
    • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
    • Military Job: Artillery Sargent/Sea Coast Antiaircraft
    • Duties: Plotting/spotting
    • Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship, Etc.: Battery D, 1st Battalion, 196 Coast Artillery; Long Island Sound coast artillery
    • War, Operation, or Conflict served in: World War II
    • Locations of Service: Port Darwin, Australia; Milne Bay, New Guinea
    • Battles/Campaigns: East Indies Campaign
    • Decorations: WWII Victory Medal; Good Conduct
    • Combat or service-related injuries: Several bouts of dengue fever
    • Military Schools/Training: Coast Artillery School; Officer Candidate School (diverted to escort cargo via train to LA from which he was to return; then ordered to ship out to Australia because he was present and available); became attached to the Australian Royal Air Force

    · Bio/Narrative:

    Following the military, Murphy worked for a prestigious law firm on Wall Street in Manhattan while getting his law degree from Fordham University through the GI Bill. He was admitted to the Connecticut Bar on May 19, 1961 and moved to Connecticut to work at Sikorsky Aircraft in their legal/contracts department. In January 1963 he was appointed Assistant Attorney General for the State until his retirement in 1986, while under Joe Lieberman. For many years after that he served as a magistrate in the Judicial Department. He currently resides in Torrington with his wife. The two have been married for over 58 years and have four children: Marianne, Susan, Lillie and Jim.

    Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month- September 2014, Lt. Colonel Carl Eisenmann

    Name: Carl Eisenmann

    Place of Birth: Bridgeport, CT

    Date of Birth: March 20, 1928

    Town: Simsbury, Connecticut

    Military Branch of Service: U.S. Air Force

    Service Dates:
    Active 05 September, 1952 – 05 April 1957
    Active reserve through 30 June, 1976

    Highest Rank: Lt. Colonel

    Military Jobs and Duties:
    Staff Judge Advocate, including trial (prosecution) and defense counsel. Legal advice to the base commander; Military Judge; Summary Court Martial. Military service included serving in Libya for two years, sometimes conducting Court Martial proceedings in remote areas overseas, military court proceedings, including summary, special and general courts-martial. Advice to the base commander and commanders if all military units. Advice to supervisory personnel in discipline matters.

    Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship, etc.:
    Hanscom Air Force Base, Bedford, MA; Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama; Otis Air Force Base, Cape Cod, MA

    War, Operation, or Conflict Served in:

    Military Schools/Training:
    The Air Force University, called “The Air University,” Air Command and Staff School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama; ROTC in college

    Air Force Bases Stationed:
    Hanscom AFB, MA; Maxwell, AFB, AL; Wheelus AFB, APO 231, NY; Wheelus AFB, Lybia

    Bio/Narrative/Memorable Events:

    Carl Eisenmann grew up in Connecticut and graduated from Georgetown Law School. After being admitted to the Connecticut and Washington D.C.’s bar associations, Eisenmann decided that he wanted to serve his country and join the military.

    At the time, lawyers were being commissioned as First Lieutenants. He joined the Air Force and in 1952 was called to active duty at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, MA.

    In the Air Force, he served in JAG Corps as a Judge Advocate. In this role, he worked in the military judicial system where he could be a judge one day and a prosecutor or defense attorney the next.

    From Hanscom he went to Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama for a time before returning to Hanscom. Then, Eisenmann was sent overseas to Tripoli in North Africa.

    As a reward for his service in Tripoli, Eisenmann was allowed to request his next placement. When he returned from overseas, he was lucky to be assigned to his selected location: Otis Air Force Base, Falmouth, MA.

    At Otis, Eisenmann met First Lieutenant Nancy Koenig, Security Officer for the 58th Fighter Squadron, and the 33rd Fighter Group, also the 551st Air Force Wing; Summary Court Officer, Commander of WAF Squadron. Their respective duties resulted in constant contact, and Eisenmann and Koenig often worked on specific duties jointly, e.g. they were both assigned to aircraft crash investigation boards and both on disciplinary investigations.

    Five months after his arrival on Otis AFB, Eisenmann and Koenig were married in the Base Chapel on 19 May, 1956 – Armed Forces Day.

    Together, Carl and Nancy have two children, now men, three grandchildren, the oldest a grandson who is headed to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

    Carl Eisenmann served his country for over 24 years. He currently resides in Simsbury.

    Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month- August 2014, Paul Kramarchyk

    • Name: Paul Boris Kramarchyk
    • Place of Birth: Troy, New York
    • Date of Birth: July 29, 1948
    • Town: Barkhamsted, Connecticut
    • Military Branch of Service: U.S. Navy (enlisted ranks, 6 years)
    • Service Dates: November 1968 —November 1974
    • Highest Rank: 2nd Class Petty Officer (E-5)
    • Military Jobs and Duties:
      • 1) Engine Room Supervisor — Supervise engine room operations. The engine room is where ship’s speed is controlled (via throttles), electricity generation, and fresh water is made via distillation of sea water.
      • 2) Engineering Lab Tech — Responsible for reactor coolant radio chemistry, steam plant chemistry, and radiation monitoring and control.
    • Boat: (Submarines are called “boats” rather than “ships”):

    USS Patrick Henry SSBN 599, nuclear submarine, fleet ballistic missile type

    – Patrick Henry’s mission was to deter attack of continental U.S. by providing a no-win retaliatory counter attack.

    – Patrick Henry carried 16 sea launched Polaris Missiles, each w/multiple nuclear warheads.

    • Service in Time of War: Cold War:

    – 4 Cold War deterrent patrols (each patrol approx. 90 days submerged).

    – 2 half-world transits (each via Panama Canal).

    • Locations of Service:

    – July/August 1969, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba– Bremerton, Washington State (ship’s overhaul and reactor refuel).

    – Rota, Spain (still under Francisco Franco): 2 deterrent patrols, Mediterranean.

    – Guam: 2 deterrent patrols, North Pacific.

    • Decorations:

    – Submarine Dolphins (qualified submariner)

    – Good Conduct Medal

    • Military Schools/Training:

    – Navy Nuclear Power School, Bainbridge, Maryland

    – Navy Submarine Reactor Prototype Training, upstate New York

    • Bio/Narrative/memorable events:

    Paul Kramarchyk was born in Troy, NY on July 29, 1948, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in November of 1968. During his service, major world events took place, such as the moon landing and Woodstock. However, one of his most memorable stories is as follows:

    Fleet ballistic missile submarines on deterrent patrol were required to carry a full medical doctor for a crew of 128 healthy twenty & thirty somethings. Not much for him to do. So out of boredom our ‘doc’ wanted to qualify as “diving officer.” The diving officer is responsible for depth control and steering. On our way down to Florida for a missile test launch, when we were not on patrol status, we decided it was a good time to give the doc some diving officer training.

    The planesmen were told to follow the doc’s orders (even if they were wrong, but not dangerous). Soon the doc had 7-thousand tons of nuclear submarine porpoising through the Atlantic like we were Flipper! Instead of awarding the doc a traditional submariner dolphins badge, on one of our charter flights we got the flight crew to give the doc “wings.” Our doc, like most submariners, was a great guy and an exceptional human being.

    It is important to note that Submarine service is self-selecting and completely voluntary. To qualify and be accepted as a submarine crew member is an honor and a privilege. The officers and crew determine whether they will accept you, or not.

    A submarine crew is a different thing, unlike any other military combat group. All submariners know it’s never about the individual; it’s always about the boat. An Army squad may go out on patrol and engage in a firefight. Some survive, some not. A war plane may get shot down or crash. Some survive, some not. A ship (surface) may sink. Some survive, some not. With a submarine it’s a different story, you either save the boat and we all go home. Or you lose the boat and nobody goes home. It’s always about saving the boat. There are no lifeboats on a submarine. That knowledge, the tight quarters (zero privacy), and long patrols with lots of time to get to know one another brings an ‘esprit de corps’ and intimacy to a submarine crew that lasts a lifetime. It was a great adventure.

    Paul was discharged from military service in November 1974. He relocated from New York to Connecticut and accepted a job with Westinghouse Electric Co. as a nuclear engineer in the Windsor plant. He retired about 1 ½ years ago, and resides in the town of Barkhamsted, where he has lived for the past 38 years.

    Senator Witkos’ Veteran of the Month- July 2014, Mark Penney

    • Name: Mark J. Penney
    • Place of Birth:  New Britain, CT
    • Date of Birth: 03 October, 1965
    • Current Town:  Canton, CT
    • Military Branch of Service:  United States Air Force, US Army Reserve, CT Air National Guard.
    • Enlisted, Commissioned, or Drafted: Enlisted
    • Service Dates:  27 Jan, 1984 through 12 Dec, 2012
    • Highest Rank: Master Sergeant
    • Military Jobs and Duties:

    Air Force First Sergeant: Principal Advisor to commander, responsible for the preparation of a mission-ready enlisted force, and ensured availability of base agency services to unit members.

    Security Forces/Police: Managed and performed security force activities including: installation, weapons systems, resource security, anti-terrorism, law enforcement and investigations, military working dog function, air base defense, armament and equipment, training, pass and registration, information security, and combat arms.

    Tactical Air Command and Control Specialist (TACP)/ Radio Operator Maintainer And Driver (ROMAD): Managed and performed TACP operations, assisted Air Force in planning and controlling of combat air resources. Managed and operated GPS, and voice and digital TACP combat communications weapons systems.

    Retention Office Manager: Responsible for determining need for and administering personnel retention programs.

    Formal School Manager/Training Manager: Coordinated training schools for base populace.  Prepared new recruits for basic and individualized training.

    Signal Intelligence Specialist and German Linguist (Army Military Intel unit):  Collected and analyzed intercepted communications to isolate data that had intelligence value.

    • War, Operation, or Conflict served in:

    Enlisted and deployed to Germany during the Cold War, 1984.

    Active Duty during Desert Storm, 1990.

    Activated after 9/11 for Operation Noble Eagle and provided homeland defense at Bradley Air National Guard Base (ANGB) East Granby, CT.

    Deployed to Al Dhafra Air Force Base, United Arab Emirates (UAE) for Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002.


    • Locations of Service:

    Air Force Basic Military Training, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX

    1345 Student Squadron, Hurlburt Field, FL

    Operation Location-Tango, Detachment 2, 602 Air Support Squadron, United States Air Force in Europe (USAFE), Germany

    Headquarters, 3/35th Armor Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armor Division, Warner Barracks, Bamberg, Germany

    103rd Security Police Squadron, Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, CT

    103rd Mission Support Group, Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, CT

    380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, Al Dhafra Air Base, UAE


    • Decorations:

    Meritorious Service Medal

    Air Force Commendation Medal

    Air Force Achievement Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters

    Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster

    Combat Readiness Medal

    Air Force Good Conduct Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster

    Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters

    National Defense Service Medal with 1 Service Star

    Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal

    Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

    Humanitarian Service Medal

    Air Force Overseas Ribbon Short Tour

    Air Force Overseas Ribbon Long Tour

    Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with gold border

    Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters

    Armed Forces Reserve Medal with ‘M’ Device and 2 Hourglasses

    USAF NCO PME Graduate Ribbon with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster

    Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon (Pistol)

    AF Training Ribbon

    Army Service Ribbon


    • Combat or service-related injuries: None


    • Military Schools/Training:

    USAF First Sergeant Academy

    USAF Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy

    USAF Non-Commissioned Officer Academy

    USAF Personnel Specialist Course

    USAF Retention Course

    ANG Security Manager Course

    USAF Security Specialist Course

    USAF NCO Preparatory Course

    USA Combat Lifesavers Course

    USAF Close Air Support Course

    USAF Tactical Air Command and Control Course


    A.S., Law Enforcement, Manchester Community College

    B.S., Public Safety Administration, Charter Oak State College

    M.S., Criminal Justice, Central Connecticut State University

    Currently pursuing a J.D. from Quinnipiac University School of Law

    Professional Affiliations:

    Air Force Sergeant’s Association

    National Guard Association of CT

    AFSCME Council 15, Local 2695 (Police Department Union) President

    Sons of the American Revolution

    Connecticut Masonic Fraternity, Lodge #29

    Memorable events:

    One of six of the first Active Guard Reservists Security Police members assigned to Guard A-10s at Bradley ANGB, East Granby, October 1989.

    Homestead Air Force Base, Florida during Hurricane Andrew, Aug 16, 1992.

    Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi during Hurricane Erin, Aug 2, 1995.

    One of the first Distant Learning Instructors at Bradley ANGB for the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy in 1995.




    Master Sergeant Penney first enlisted in the United States Air Force in January 1984 as a Tactical Air Command and Control Specialist. After Basic Military Training and technical school, Master Sergeant Penney was assigned to Operation Location-Tango, Detachment 2, 602nd Air Support Operations Group at Warner Barracks, Bamberg, Germany. He deployed numerous times during his four-year tour with the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division as part of the Air Liaison Office.

    After completing his first enlistment in the Air Force, Master Sergeant Penney enlisted in the Army Reserve as a Signal Intelligence Specialist with the 325th Military Intelligence Battalion, East Windsor CT. In October, 1989, he applied for a position with the 103rd Security Police Squadron at Bradley ANGB. After being accepted for the position, Master Sergeant Penney spent seven years as an Active Guard/Reservist with the unit. During this time he performed a multitude of duties including Alarm Response Team/Security response Team Leader and Central Security Controller and was awarded a 7 skill level.

    Master Sergeant Penney deployed on numerous temporary duty assignments with the unit, including a 2001 deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, as a Squad Leader for the 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While at Bradley ANGB, Master Sergeant Penney took advantage of cross training opportunities and held positions as both Formal Schools Manager and Assistant Retention Office Manager with the 103rd Mission Support Flight. He was awarded his 7 skill level as a Personnel Specialist just prior to his being selected as a First Sergeant for the 103rd Security Forces Squadron in October 2008.

    In 2010, Master Sergeant Penney was awarded the First Sergeant of the Year for the State of Connecticut. He left active duty status in 1998 to become a municipal police officer with a department in Connecticut, and retired from the military on 12 December, 2012. He currently serves as a Patrol Sergeant with the Canton Police Department. His duties include supervising a patrol division and commanding his department’s training and detective division. He has received many awards including the Life Saving Medal, the Medal of Merit, and the Special Achievement and Commendation award.

    May 2014 – Veteran of the Month – First Sergeant Trevor Brittell

    Name: Trevor Brittell
    Place of Birth: Modesto, CA
    Date of Birth: September 8, 1978
    Military Branch of Service: Army National Guard
    Enlisted, Commissioned, or drafted?: Enlisted
    Service Dates: August 1997 – Present
    Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
    Military Job: Military Police: 2008- Present, Infantry:1997 – 2008
    Duties: Military Police squad leader overseeing 12 soldiers, including 3 sergeants. Responsible for the safety and security of the fighting force. MPs hold several jobs: law & order, corrections and combat support. Trevor is currently in a combat support unit, but has cross trained in all three facets of the MP mission.

    Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship, Etc.:

    • 143rd Military Police Company West Hartford, CT –Feb 2014 – Present
    • 3rd Battalion (MP Training) 169th (RTI) Regiment (Leader) Instructor at the Regional Training Institute (RTI) for the Military Police reclassification course. June 2011 – Feb 2014
    • 192nd Military Police Battalion Niantic, CT (Deployed to Iraq April 2009- April 2010) Feb 2009 – June 2011
    • 643rd Military Police Company September 2008 – February 2011
    • C company 1st Battalion 102nd Infantry Afghanistan
    • A company 1st Battalion 102nd Infantry USMA @ West Point, NY
    • B company 1st Battalion 102nd Infantry Bosnia

    War, Operation, or Conflict served in:

    Operation Joint Forge – Bosnia 2001 – 2002
    Operation Noble Eagle – West Point, NY 2003-2004
    Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan 2006 – 2007
    Operation Iraqi Freedom – Iraq 2009-2010


    • Combat Infantry Badge
    • Army Commendation Medal x4
    • Army Achievement Medal x3
    • Good Conduct Medal
    • Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal x4
    • National Defense Medal
    • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
    • Afghan Service Medal
    • Iraq Service Medal
    • Global War on Terror Medal
    • Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Bronze hourglass
    • Mobilized ‘M’ & Number 3, NCO Development Ribbon with Number 2
    • Army service ribbon
    • Overseas service ribbon
    • NATO Medal x2

    Military Schools/Training:
    Infantry school, Military Police school, Special Reaction Team School, several medical courses, leadership development courses, instructor course.

    Bio/Narrative/memorable events (Include information about post-military life and family):
    Trevor Brittell was born in Modesto, CA on September 8, 1978, and moved to Simsbury with his family at the age of 6. He joined the Army in 1997, and intends to complete his 20 years of service and retire.

    Trevor spent his first 10 years of service in the infantry. During that time he deployed to Bosnia and Afghanistan. Shortly after returning home, he met his wife and was soon activated for a homeland mission to backfill the Military Policemen (MPs) at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. At that point, he decided to change his focus in the Army to a job that would cross over into the civilian world better than the infantry. He decided to become an MP. He attended the MP course that is basically a condensed and very fast-paced police academy and loved it right away.

    Ten days after graduating school, Trevor was on a plane bound for Texas where he would train up for a mission to run a prison in Iraq. Upon return from Iraq, he was promoted to Staff Sergeant and transferred to the Regional Training Center at Camp Niantic. This was his chance to train soldiers becoming Military Policemen the same way he did a couple years before. That was a very rewarding portion of his career. However, Trevor felt it was important to maintain his skills as a leader and as an MP in a line unit. So after almost three years, he transferred again to his current MP Company in West Hartford.

    Joining the Army was one of the best decisions Trevor has ever made, as his military career has been extremely rewarding. He and his wife have forged lifelong friendships with their “Army Family” with whom they get together every Veterans’ Day. Trevor currently resides in Simsbury with his wife and their one year old daughter.
    May 2014 – Veteran of the Month – First Lieutenant Nancy Eisenmann

    • Name: Nancy Koenig Eisenmann
    • Place of Birth: Maywood, Illinois
    • Date of Birth: October 19, 1929
    • Current Town: Simsbury, CT
    • Military Branch of Service: United States Air Force
    • Enlisted, Commissioned, or drafted: Commissioned
    • Service Dates: March 23, 1953-October 8, 1956
    • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
    • Military Job: Intelligence Officer—58th Fighter Squadron and Commanding Officer for all enlisted females at Otis Air Force Base, MA
    • Duties Researched all foreign aircraft, selected domestic aircraft, weapons, weapons systems; advised fighter pilots, radar aircraft and ground personnel of any and all situations of suspicious or potentially hostile activity; researched and advised of world-wide aircraft activity.
    • 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Group, and the 551st Aircraft Early Warning Radar Wing, Otis Air Force Base, MA.
    • War, Operation, or Conflict served in: The Korean War ended during her first year of service.
    • Locations of Service: Otis Air Force Base, MA, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX, Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, CO.
    • Decorations:
    • American Defense Ribbon,
    • 33rd Fighter Group Unit Citation
    • Military Schools/Training:
    • Distinguished Graduate of Officer Candidate School and Air Training Command.
    • Name of Post: American Legion Post 84

    Bio/Narrative/memorable events:

    Nancy Koenig Eisenmann graduated from DePauw University in Indiana in 1951 with a degree in psychology and began her service in the United States Air Force on March 23, 1953. She had previously tried to enlist in the Navy, but failed the eye test because she had myopia (nearsightedness). Nancy was so determined to serve her country that she memorized the eye chart and headed to the Air Force recruiting office where she passed the test with flying colors.

    Nancy was stationed at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, MA. Due to its geographical location on a peninsula, Otis AFB was thought to be the likely target of possible enemy air strikes. Fortunately, the training was rigorous and Nancy and her unit stood ready to take down any potential strikes.

    As a First Lieutenant, Nancy was charged with researching all foreign aircraft. She had a book of potential aircraft they might encounter, which she studied religiously in order to distinguish the Russian planes from commercial planes. Nancy was the first woman to serve in this role, and she quickly became an expert on weapons and weapons systems. She advised the fighter pilots, radar aircraft and ground personnel of any potentially suspicious or hostile activity. She was trained in military law, maps and charts, military geography, intelligence, air warfare, organization, administration, classification, management and leadership. She was also the Commanding Officer of all 120 enlisted females at Otis AFB.

    Nancy met her husband Carl on Otis AFB, who was the Staff Judge Advocate. One of their first encounters was in the courtroom when Nancy was called to testify in one of his cases. They were married during their service in 1956 at the Otis AFB Chapel. Four months later, Nancy became pregnant with their first child and was discharged on October 8, 1956. The couple lived on Cape Cod for a short time, and then moved to Simsbury CT in 1957 when Carl had a job opportunity with the Office of the Attorney General. Nancy and Carl Eisenmann raised their family in Simsbury; they are blessed with two sons and four grandchildren.
    April 2014 – Veteran of the Month – Ralph L. Hann

    Name: Ralph L. Hann

    • DOB: 6/20/1926
    • City of Birth: Plainfield, New Jersey
    • Town: West Simsbury, CT 06092
    • Military Branch: US Navy
    • DOB: 6/20/1926
    • Rank: Seaman First Class
    • Military Job: Main Winch Operator on USS Navy Ship Mazama, AE 9, #3 Cargo hold; Coxswain on #1 motor launch, Helmsman when underway.
    • Battle: Leyte Gulf, October 1944
    • Unit/Ship: USS Mazama AE9; U.S. Seventh Fleet
    • Served in: Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Naval Personnel Distribution Center. USN Receiving Barracks Camp Shoemaker, USS Mazama AE 9, South Pacific WW II War Zone, Philippine Islands Liberation
    • Duties: Served aboard the USS Mazama AE 9 in South Pacific 1944 -1945, Part of US Seventh Fleet under Admiral Bill Halsey. Torpedoed by Japanese Kamikaze Submarine on January 12, 1945 at Ulithi Atoll.
    • Foreign War: WWII
    • Active Service Dates: 7/16/1943- 8/1/1946
    • Decorations:
    • Philippine Liberation WWII Military Medal
    • Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal
    • World War II U.S. American Campaign Medal 1941-1945
    • Armed Forces Service Medal
    • Navy Good Conduct Medal
    • World War II Victory Medal

    U. S. Navy Veteran Ralph L. Hann of West Simsbury, CT was a high school student in Plainfield, N.J. when World War II broke out. Feeling a draw to answer the call to service, he completed his junior year and, with his parents’ permission, enlisted in the US Navy at the age of 17. The state of New Jersey issued him a graduation diploma on June 20, 1943. He was sworn in on July 16, 1943 in New York City, and shipped off to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Chicago, Illinois for Boot Camp Training.

    Upon graduation from the training station on August 25, 1943, Hann went home on a two-week liberty, returning to Great Lakes upon completion. Once back in Great Lakes he was sent out to California. After a very long train ride, he arrived at the Naval Personnel Distribution Center in Pleasanton, CA. The next stop was U.S. Naval Receiving Barracks in Shoemaker, CA.

    Within a few days, Hann was drafted as second alternate to serve on the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga. However, by the end of the first day, boarding was completed and only the first alternate was selected. Hann was returned to the base for further duty. After about a month of odd duties he was selected for a job in the base post office and worked as a postal clerk for about a year until his number was called to serve aboard the USS Mazama AE 9.

    On August 15, 1944 Hann shipped out to Mare Island, CA, an ammunition base where the Mazama was undergoing an overhaul and ammunition reloading prior to leaving for the South Pacific on August 25, 1944. The crew’s first stop was Pearl Harbor, where they did some island hopping and replenished the ammunition on several ships before continuing to the Philippines. They landed on October 23, 1944, sailing into the interior, with Hann as the Helmsman. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to Seaman First Class (S1/C).

    The Mazama went back out to Leyte Gulf and serviced several military ships. A day or two later, the Battle of Leyte Gulf began and continued day and night. One morning at dawn the first sign of Japanese kamikaze planes swarmed all over the sky, dropping on ships and sinking many of them. The destroyer escort was hit mid-ship off the starboard side. Within three minutes it was sunk and all hands were lost. Shortly after, while the crew was servicing the USS Colorado battleship, a kamikaze headed straight for them. Both ships cut lines and took off just before the kamikaze hit.

    In early November 1944, when things had quieted down, Hann and his fellow servicemen headed for Ulithi Atoll and dropped anchor just inside the harbor nets. The following morning a tanker was hit off their starboard side by a kamikaze submarine. The tanker caught fire, sank, and the crew was lost. A few days later, they went to Espiritu Santos for an ammunition reload and stayed through Christmas 1944. Just before the New Year, they departed on a several week long journey back to Ulithi Atoll, where they awaited other ships of the Seventh Fleet prior to heading for the invasion of Iwo Jima.

    On the morning of January 12, 1945, the Mazama was torpedoed by a Japanese kamikaze submarine and started to sink. Earlier that morning, Hann had held watch from midnight to 4:00 a.m. which allowed him to sleep in until 7:00 a.m. and avoid sweepers call at 6:00 a.m. At 6:55 a.m. General Quarters sounded. Hann got dressed and headed for his battle station which was the Pom Pom gun outside the wheelhouse, starboard side of the ship. The crew’s sleeping quarters were empty, as everyone else was topside sweeping or at General Quarters. When Hann started up the inside ladder to go topside, the torpedo explosion hit the ship and he was thrown off the ladder, landing on the deck in a daze. At that time there was water and debris floating on the ship and Hann did not realize right away that the torpedo explosion had caused injury to his left leg as well as bumps and bruises to his arms and shoulders when he was thrown off the ladder.

    When the dazed feeling subsided, he started back up the ladder to his gun mount. He could not go forward due to the water and debris blocking his way so he headed aft and climbed an outside ladder up on the starboard side to his gun. Soaking wet, he sat on his metal gunner’s seat, plugged the gun into the electronic fire controller and got the worst shock of his life. Hann felt as if he was being electrocuted.

    The Mazama was taking on water and slowly sinking from the bow due to the gaping hole on the portside. A sea-going tugboat along with a large salvage ship pulled alongside the Mazama to try to save the ship. Evaluating the damage, they started to pump the water out of the ship faster than it was entering. Divers made emergency repairs that allowed them to make it to Guam and Saipan for the major repairs that held until they could get back to the United States. Thanks to the help of many, the USS Mazama was rescued.

    Hann also vividly remembers running the launch the night they found his best friend, Ed Marsh, dead from the torpedo explosion in the #2 hold on board Mazama. Hann had the honor of giving his best friend his last ride in the motor launch to the local burial ground. Ed enjoyed working with Hann and his crew on the launch and this was a very sad trip for the team.

    After repairs were completed the USS Mazama headed back to the United States in April 1945 and stopped at Pearl Harbor for supplies and mail. They arrived in San Francisco on April 12, the day President Franklin Roosevelt died and Harry Truman became the President of the United States.

    Shortly after arriving in the States, Hann went to the ship’s sick bay medical officer for treatment of his injuries, and was sent to the Naval Hospital on Treasure Island, CA where he was ordered to bed rest. Hann was transferred between naval hospitals for 18 months while he underwent treatment for Sclerosing Osteomyelitis.

    On April 8, 1946 Hann was again transferred to the USNSH Seagate, N.Y. for further treatment and returned to St. Albans Hospital on May 8, 1946. Seaman First Class Hann appeared before a medical board of review on July 6, 1946 which found that his condition was considered to have been incurred in the line of duty/ a service incurred disability, caused by the torpedo attack.

    On August 1, 1946 Hann was honorably discharged from the United States Navy Reserve and moved back to Plainfield, NJ. He later attended college at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ, married his high school sweetheart Corrine in 1948, and took a job working for Allstate Insurance Company. In 1968, the couple moved to West Simsbury, CT where they currently reside. The Hanns have been blessed with three children (two girls and a boy), six grandchildren and one great grandchild.
    March 2014 – Veteran of the Month – Edward S. Simonds

    Memorable Events:

    After graduating from UCONN and receiving an Army ROTC Commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in June 1963, Captain Ed Simonds entered active duty in August 1963 and attended the Basic Officers Course at Fort Eustis, VA. He remained at Eustis for about 6 months awaiting his slot in flight school. He began flight training at Ft. Rucker, AL in June 1964 and received his wings in March 1965. After a few weeks at Ft. Bragg, Simonds was assigned to the 221st Aviation Company and deployed with that unit to Vietnam.

    Ed traveled to Saigon on a C-130 and was stationed at Ca Mau in the Mekong Delta, the southernmost city in IV Corps. The Delta terrain was flat and wet and IV Corps operations were controlled by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). No U.S. combat units were operating there at the time. Ed’s first duties were to fly the Province Chief around the Delta, where he met Martha Raye and Wayne Newton, two well-known celebrities who were visiting the troops.

    The main tasks of the 221st Aviation Company was to fly daily observation and reconnaissance missions and direct air strikes for the ARVN Air Force and Navy. The unit flew shotgun for barges on the waterways, land convoys and early Agent Orange flights. They acted as radio relays at night so that the Vietnamese could communicate with Saigon.

    The most difficult assignments were close-in bombing support for ARVN infantry offensives–calling in coordinates for artillery and bombing runs. Ed noted that it was common practice for the pilots to sit on their flak jackets for protection of their vital parts, as they were shot at virtually every day. The survival gear they were issued was a joke, as it consisted of mere tinsel to be thrown out the window on the way down, unlike the real survival kits given to the U.S. Air Force and Navy.

    The Bird Dogs had four 2.75 rockets, primarily for marking targets. Their aiming devices were lines on the windshield. Ed spoke of an occasion when off-shore naval gunfire strayed off course and was bracketing him as he flew. He watched the black puffs explode around him. Fortunately, he was able to correct their error. At night, tracers coming up at his plane proved unnerving as they appeared to pass close by and he would try, when possible, to climb beyond the “burnout rate” of the bullets.

    On the ground, Viet Cong Sappers were a risk to their base camp and the buildings near him were hit. On one occasion, they were on high alert as rumors of an impending attack were widespread. They moved into nearby bunkers, but Ed stayed outside and in the process was shot in the leg and wounded. He spent two weeks in a nearby hospital in Soc Trang. Ed returned to the good old USA in June 1966, on a “delightful flight with real stewardesses” from Saigon to Travis AFB. After a 30-day leave at home, he reported back to Fort Rucker where he “flew a desk” for his remaining 9 months of active duty. Ed was discharged on 6 June, 1967 after almost 4 years on active duty.


    Ed was born in Hartford on September 22, 1940. He grew up in Unionville and graduated from Farmington High School in 1958. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Connecticut, Ed received a U.S. Army ROTC commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. He achieved the rank of Captain and honorably served as a decorated fixed-wing pilot in the 221st Aviation Company during the Vietnam War. He later returned to UConn and received his MBA. He also attended the University Of Connecticut School Of Law. Upon graduation, Ed became a successful auditor for Ernst & Ernst, which lead to a job offer at St. Francis Hospital because of his extensive, specialized knowledge of hospital tax law and regulation. As an Assistant Comptroller, one of his responsibilities was to provide budget presentations to Congressional sub-committees. Ed worked in the healthcare industry as a Comptroller and a CPA for the majority of his career.

    In later years, Ed became very involved in community service. He served as treasurer and Trustee, deacon, greeter and faithful member of the Collinsville Congregational Church for many years. Ed provided counseling and financial tutoring to members of the church and, in his role as deacon, was influential in directing church funds to members in need.

    Ed was also a proud and active member of the Gildo T. Consolini Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #3272 in Avon, enthusiastically attending the VFW’s weekly veterans’ breakfasts up until his final weeks. He was proud of his service to his country, but he was humble and did not speak of his service often. Ed made an exception for the VFW’s community events, and he would join the other VFW Post 3272 veterans in regaling the audience with stories of wartime. Ed most recently animatedly entertained an audience at the Avon Public Library, during its commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, just weeks before he succumbed to his illness.

    He was a founding member of Boy Scout Troop 177 in Collinsville, CT. Ed has been described as “indispensable” in the many roles he performed, but as Assistant Scoutmaster he most enjoyed mentoring and guiding his troop members toward becoming Eagle Scouts. He spent many years helping boys chart an advancement plan and is remembered for recalling, off the top of his head, an in-depth knowledge of the advancement needs for each boy in the troop. During his years in scouting he also served as a leader at Camp Workcoeman summer camp and even earned his Woodbadge beads in recent years, signifying Boy Scouts of America recognition of “significant achievement in leadership and direct service to young people.”

    During Hurricane Sandy, Ed was especially active and provided neighbors with an unending supply of hot water, batteries, and propane. He supplied family and friends alike, and also made them aware of available emergency town services (warm room, showers, MRE rations, CO2 detectors, etc.). Each year for Veterans Day, Ed provided American flags for display to any neighbors who wished to display one.

    During his leisure time Ed could be found reading, gardening, target shooting with his children and camping with his grandchildren. He was an avid fan of the UConn Huskies women’s basketball program and the Boston Red Sox.

    Captain Ed Simonds passed away on December 13, 2013. Those left to treasure his memory include: his wife, Joanne (Varcoe) Simonds, of Weatogue; daughter, Karen Smith of Avon and Skip Desjardin; son, Steven Simonds and his wife Pam of Burlington; son, Mark Simonds of Encinitas, CA; brother, William T. Simonds of Unionville; brother, John R. Simonds and his wife Judi of Burlington; and sister, Dorothy Sheflin and her husband Ray of Sevierville, TN. Ed was a loving and doting grandpa to seven grandchildren: Mark Nezas, Alexandra and Benjamin Simonds, Harrison, Matthew, Garrett, and Rachel Smith. He was predeceased by three infant grandsons: Andrew, Brendan, and Christopher Smith.

    Special thanks to the Simonds family and Bill Newman (former Commander of the Avon VFW), for providing these records and recounting their fond memories of Captain Ed Simonds so that we may posthumously honor his service.

    February Veteran of the Month

    • Name: Joseph R. Richard
    • Place of Birth: New Bedford, MA
    • Date of Birth: 7/22/1922
    • Town: East Granby
    • Military Branch of Service: US Marine Corps, enlisted
    • Service Dates: 1942-1945
    • Highest Rank: Corporal
    • Military Job: Machine Gunner
    • Duties: Infantry Training and Combat
    • Unit Assignment: Company E, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division.
    • War, Operation, or Conflict served in: WWII
    • Locations of Service: Parris Island, SC Camp Pendleton, CA, Camp Maui, Hawaii, and the South Pacific: Mariana Islands, Namur, Marshall Islands, Saipan, Iwo Jima.
    • Battles/Campaigns: Namur, Marshall Islands, Battle of Saipan, Battle of Iwo Jima.
    • Decorations: Purple Heart (Saipan and Iwo Jima), CT Veterans Wartime Service Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Medal, Marine Rifle Sharpshooter Medal.
    • Combat or service-related injuries: Shrapnel injuries in Saipan and Iwo Jima
    • Military Schools/Training: Camp Pendleton, CA
    • Organization Affiliations: East Granby Veterans

    Bio/Narrative/memorable events:

    Corporal Joseph R. Richard was born in New Bedford, MA on July 22, 1922. He moved to Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood at age three when his father was hired to help build the Aetna building. Corporal Richard attended St. Ann’s French Catholic School, and graduated from Hartford High School in 1940. Following his completion of school, Richard worked in the Defense Plant at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft for two years before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps.

    Sworn-in the day before Thanksgiving 1942 in Springfield, MA, Corporal Richard was sent to Parris Island, SC for Boot Camp. The next stop for Corporal Richard and the new recruits was Camp Lejeune, NC, followed by Los Angeles, where they transferred to trucks and set out for Camp Pendleton, CA. There he was assigned to an Infantry Battalion and a Machine Gun Platoon and fulfilled almost a year of training before being called to combat.

    In January 1944 in San Diego, the troops boarded a ship to Hawaii in a convoy, where they did some additional training before setting out for the Marshall Islands, South Pacific, and immediately went into action upon landing at Namur. Corporal Richard recalls hearing artillery overhead, as his friend Don and he were lying prone on the beach, three feet apart. He remembers how they heard a tremendous explosion that rocked the entire island, followed by a “swooshing” sound. The front end of a torpedo had landed between the two of them, just inches away. That led to the development of a lifelong bond between them, and Corporal Richard was later the best man at Don’s wedding.

    After leaving the island of Namur, Corporal Richard and his unit went to Saipan. Just ten days later, he was wounded, evacuated and transported back to Pearl Harbor to recover. Then it was back to Base Camp on Maui waiting for the troops from Mariana. His platoon leader and many other men lost their lives on the Islands of Namur and Saipan.

    The next landing for the 24th Regiment was Iwo Jima, another experience etched in the memory of Corporal Richard. Carrying heavy equipment with his air-cooled machine gun, it was very difficult to move between shell holes on the heavy, sandy soil and steep embankments. He remembers being in a group moving towards the airfield ahead of them, where the Japanese were using anti-aircraft guns at ground level. Their mission was to take them out. Running across the field, Corporal Richard dove for a shell hole. It was not until he was inside that he noticed the blood coming from his injured hand, where he was injured by fragments of shrapnel.

    Corporal Richard was discharged from the US Marine Corps in October 1945 in Bainbridge, MD and went back home to Hartford to live with his parents and adjust to civilian life.

    Corporal Richard returned to Pratt & Whitney, earning a position in Quality Engineering as a Quality Control Representative. In that position he visited various manufacturing facilities involved in producing aircraft engine parts. Later he was given a relocation assignment to a manufacturing facility overseas in Denmark. This well-remembered assignment lasted almost 4 years with his wife and teenage daughter living in rented housing. After 42 years of service, Corporal Richard retired from Pratt & Whitney in 1983.

    Corporal Richard has been married to his wife Lorraine since 1949. They started their family in Hartford, but moved to Windsor in 1958. They currently live in East Granby, where they moved to in1968. They are blessed with two sons and a daughter, and five grandchildren.
    January 2014 – Veteran of the Month – Gregory M. (Greg) Sims


    Post 3272 – Avon, Connecticut

    Military Service History

    NAME: Gregory M. (Greg) Sims
    ADDRESS: Canton, CT
    BRANCH: U.S. Army
    RANK: Sergeant (E-5)
    Battery C, 2nd Bn, 9th Arty, 4th Infantry Div
    Co C, 1st Bn, 35th Infantry, 4th Infantry Div
    FOREIGN WAR: Vietnam
    13May68 – 19Dec69
    22Oct68 – 19Dec69
    POST MEMBER SINCE: 2009 Canton Post 9372 (1975) Life Member
    Assistant Gunner
    VN Counteroffensive V
    VN Counteroffensive VI
    TET 69 Counteroffensive
    VN Winter-Spring 1969
    VN Summer-Fall 1969

    Army Good Conduct Medal
    Nat Defense Service Medal
    Vietnam Service Medal w/ silver star
    Vietnam Campaign Medal
    Vietnam Gallantry Cross
    Vietnam Civil Actions Medal
    Presidential Unit Citation
    Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB)
    Sharpshooter Badge w/automatic rifle & rifle


    Basic Training – Fort Dix, NJ (8 wks)
    Artillery School – Fort Sill, OK (8 wks)


    Army Good Conduct Medal

    Nat Defense Service Medal

    Vietnam Service Medal w/ silver star

    Vietnam Campaign Medal

    Vietnam Gallantry Cross

    Vietnam Civil Actions Medal

    Presidential Unit Citation

    Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB)

    Sharpshooter Badge w/automatic rifle & rifle


    Basic Training – Fort Dix, NJ (8 wks)

    Artillery School – Fort Sill, OK (8 wks)

    Sergeant Gregory Sims was drafted into the U.S. Army in Hartford, CT on May 13, 1968 at the age of 19 following his graduation from Canton High School. Sims was sent to Fort Dix, NJ for eight weeks of basic training and then sent to Fort Still, OK for artillery training. In October 1968, after completing his training courses, Sergeant Sims was deployed overseas. His first stop was Cam Rahn Bay, Republic of Vietnam, and then Ill Corps and Landing Zone (LZ Oasis), which is approximately 24 km SSW of Pleiku in the Central Highlands.

    Sergeant Sims was assigned to Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 9th Artillery, 4th Infantry Division as an Assistant Gunner for 105 mm Howitzers. After a short stint with B Battery as a "Newbie," Sims was transferred to the Infantry, and assigned to C Co. 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry as a Radio Telephone Operator and Recon Sergeant.

    On the afternoon of May 11 at 0100 hours, during the TET offensive of 1969 (a series of attacks mounted by principally North Vietnamese forces), LZ Oasis was attacked by over 600 North Vietnamese Army (NVA) Sappers and was partially overrun. The battle lasted three hours, or until "Puff the Magic Dragon" (an AC-130 Gunship; a heavily armed ground attack aircraft) arrived with their multi-mini guns. Twenty five Americans were killed in action (KIA), three were missing in action (MIA) while NVA casualties were estimated around 400.

    During his deployment overseas, Sergeant Sims also participated in an attack on Phu Prong Mountain when the 35th Infantry was sent to neutralize the 24th NVA Regiment, and was engaged in heavy combat.

    While the regular tour of duty for a service member was one year, Sims remained in Vietnam an additional three months in order to get an early discharge upon returning to the states. On December 16, 1969, after spending one year, 2 months, and 14 days in Vietnam, Sergeant Sims was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army.

    December 2013 – Veteran of the Month – Corporal Dan Crowley

    NAME: Dan Crowley
    ADDRESS: Simsbury, CT
    MILITARY BRANCH: US Army Air Corps, US Army
    MILITARY JOB: Aircraft Crew Chief
    RANK: Corporal

    FOREIGN WAR: World War II
    ACTIVE SERVICE: 10/7/1940-4/6/1946

    17th Pursuit Squadron
    Provisional Air Corps Infantry on Bataan
    4th Marine Corps Regiment

    Bronze Star

    Combat Infantryman Badge


    Daniel Crowley was born on May 29, 1922 and raised in Greenwich, CT. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in Hartford on October 7, 1940. In March of 1941, Crowley arrived in Manila, Philippine, where he was stationed when Japan struck Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Eighteen hours later, his ordeal began when his air base near Manila was hit by the Japanese in their quest to gain access to resources in the British and Dutch colonies of Southeast Asia. With the destruction of the entire air fleet in Manila, Crowley became a Private in the US Army Infantry.

    Within a couple of weeks, Crowley was headed for the peninsula of Bataan, where disease and starvation took the lives of thousands. Crowley, with both American and Filipino troops, held off the Japanese for several months before General Edward King surrendered on April 9, 1942. Despite this, Crowley and a small brigade of U.S. Marines, 4th Regiment, under the command of General Jonathan Wainwright, continued to fight on the island of Corregidor until May 6, 1942, when he too was officially surrendered, a day Crowley calls the “worst disgrace” for U.S. troops and the beginning of his nearly four years as a Prisoner of War (POW). His parents were notified of his POW status by way of a postal telegraph.

    Crowley was sent to Camp O’Donnell, where over 22,000 American and Filipino POWs died from disease and starvation. He was later transferred to Camp Cabanatuan and then to a slave camp in Palawan where he helped build an airfield in the blazing sun with little clothes, no hat nor shoes. Half the prisoners died there, and if it were not for an American doctor’s convincing diagnosis that he was mentally unfit, Crowley would have been returned to the camp and burned alive with the remaining prisoners at the airfield.

    Next, Crowley was shipped to Japan where he worked 2000 feet down in an ancient copper mine until August 14, 1945 when Crowley recalls, “The Japanese admitted that we got their attention.” On that day, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration surrendering Japan. While the emperor was speaking, prisoners were not allowed to work. That day began what Crowley calls the “year of freedom.”  Crowley was liberated on September 4, 1945, after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He took a slow boat back to the United States in October 1945 and was discharged from the U.S. Army in April 1946 in Massachusetts.

    After discharge from military service, Crowley became an insurance agent, married, and raised a son and daughter with his wife Marie in Simsbury. Marie Crowley passed away in February 2012 after 67 years of marriage.

    Dan Crowley continues to serve his country and community by sharing his story and ensuring that we honor and forever hold in our memory the brave men who did not return from war. His most recent efforts to recognize those with whom he served was advocating for the state legislature to name the bridge on Route 185 in Simsbury the “Bataan Corregidor Memorial Bridge” in memory of those soldiers who fought alongside Crowley and who lost their lives at the Battle of Bataan and the Battle of Corregidor. The dedication will take place on December 7, 2013 and the Department of Transportation’s official signs will be unveiled.

    November 2013 – Veteran of the Month – Captain John R. “Reg” Harrison

    NAME: John R.”Reg” Harrison
    ADDRESS: Morris, CT
    MILTARY BRANCH: US Air Force, US Army
    RANK: Captain

    ATC 3640 Pilot Training Wing/3641 Student Squadron
    SAC 99th Bomb Wing, Westover/348th Hvy Bomb Squadron
    43rd Strat Wing, Andersen AFB, Guam
    307th Strat Wing, Utapao, Thailand/Westover S-09
    449TH Bomb Wing, Kincheloe AFB, Mi/716th Bomb Squadron

    FOREIGN WAR: Vietnam
    ACTIVE SERVICE: 05/27/1969-09/28/1978

    B52 Evaluator Pilot
    B52 Instructor Pilot
    Combat Engineer

    1. Commando Hunt V
    Lam Son 719
    2. Commando Hunt VI
    3. Commando Hunt VII
    Laotian campaign
    Cambodian campaign
    Northern Thailand campaign
    4. Vietnam Cease Fire
    Linebacker I
    Linebacker II


    • Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters + 2 “V” devices for (heroism)
    • Meritorious Service Medal
    • Air Medal with 7 Oak Leaf Clusters
    • Air Force Commendation Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
    • Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with V device (valor) + 9 Oak Leaf Clusters
    • Combat Readiness Medal
    • National Defense Service Medal
    • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for fighting in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand
    • Vietnam Service Medal with 4 bronze service stars
    • Army Service Ribbon
    • Air Force Longevity Service Award with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
    • Armed Forces Reserve Medal
    • Small Arms Expert Marksman Ribbon
    • Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
    • Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
    • State of Connecticut Wartime Service Medal

    John R. “Reg” Harrison was born and raised in Morris, Ct. He graduated from Wamogo Regional High School, Litchfield, CT in the class of 1961. He went on to earn a B.A. degree from Marietta College, Class of 1966. While in college, he joined the U.S. Army Reserve and served as a Combat Engineer from 1965 to 1969, attaining the rank of Specialist 4th Class. Shortly after, he transferred to the U.S. Air Force where he held the rank of Technical Sergeant and attended U. S. Air Force Officer’s Candidate School.

    In 1969, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. He was selected for Pilot Training and earned his silver wings as a Fighter Pilot in 1970 at Laredo Air Force Base in Laredo, Texas. After his training as a B52 Pilot, he began combat tours in Vietnam, completing a total of 157 missions during 4 full combat tours as a B52 pilot. He returned to the U.S. in August 1973, where he rose to the rank of Captain and was assigned as an Instructor Pilot and an Evaluator Pilot in the B52.

    Captain Harrison was severely injured in 1976 and was medically retired in 1977. He retired to Morris, CT with his wife Susan where they raised their son Adam and daughter Katie.

    Captain Harrison joined AMVETS Post 24 in Torrington, Ct. in 2003 and served as their State Executive Committeeman for 6 years before becoming Department of Connecticut Adjutant in 2009 AND 2010.He then became Department of Connecticut 1st Vice Commander in 2011. He was elected to be the Commander of AMVETS Department of Connecticut for the 2012 to 2013 term. He has served as a member of the AMVETS Department of Connecticut Service Foundation since 2004 and is currently serving as the President of the Foundation.

    He is the Colonel in command of the First Litchfield Artillery Regiment – a private militia chartered in Connecticut under state statutes. Additionally, Captain Harrison is the President of the American Artillery Association – a National Organization for owners and shooters of antique artillery pieces

    Captain Harrison currently serves as the Adjutant and Finance Officer of American Legion Post 173 in Morris, CT, He is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution Governor Oliver Wolcott Branch in Litchfield County, and a Life Member of the following organizations:

    • Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
    • VFW
    • Military Officers Association
    • Distinguished Flying Cross Society
    • Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association (aka the “RIVER RATS).”

    October 2013 – Veteran of the Month – 1st LT. Robert F Skeels


    Post 3272 – Avon, Connecticut

    Military Service History

    NAME: Robert F. (Bob) Skeels
    ADDRESS: Simsbury, CTMILITARY JOB: Platoon LeaderRANK: 1st Lieutenant
    3rd Plt, CO “E”, 2nd Bn, 4th Marines
    1st Plt, Co “B”, 3rd Tank Bn, 3rd Marine Div
    FOREIGN WAR: Vietnam
    ACTIVE SERVICE: 2Feb68–1Nov70
    ACTIVE SERVICE: 2Feb68–1Nov70
    ACTIVE SERVICE: 2Feb68–1Nov70
    ACTIVE SERVICE: 2Feb68–1Nov70

    Rifle Platoon Commander
    Tank Platoon Commander

    Scotland II
    Caddo Creek
    Kentucky & Virginia Ridge


    Combat Action Ribbon

    Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon

    Nat Defense Service Medal

    Vietnam Service Medal w/4 bronze stars

    Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation

    Vietnam Campaign Medal


    Marine OCS – Quantico, VA
    Infantry Basic School – Quantico, VA
    Marine Tank School – Camp Pendleton, CA

    Out of basic school, I was assigned to Tank school for six weeks at Camp Pendleton, CA. After completing the course, I arrived in the RVN (Republic of Vietnam) on Oct 3, 1968 and had orders to go to an infantry unit in TAD (Temporary Active Duty) as a rifle platoon commander (3rd Platoon, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines) for three months before reporting to a tank company for the remainder of my year.

    Our mission in the infantry was to build and secure the sites for the 105mm artillery fire bases in the mountainous jungle along the DMZ (demilitarized zone) including Argonne, Alpine and Russell. We humped (hiked) into these locations, cleared fields of fire off the mountain peaks, then patrolled heavily and provided security for the base at night. There was a lot of movement on the lines at FB (Firebase) Russell and it turned out that our holes were getting mapped out by the NVA (North Vietnamese Army). Two months after I left the firebase to rotate into Tanks, the base was overrun by a battalion of sapper NVA on February 25, 1969.

    For more information on this event, see the VFW Magazine of January 2008 or visit, an excellent website created in 2002 that tells the stories of nearly 300 members on the hill that night. Through this website, I have had the good fortune of connecting with both lieutenants that served with me at Echo Company, 2/4 (2nd Battalion, 4th Marines) as well as many members of my platoon and we communicate often.

    Before I rotated into Tanks, in early and late December 1968, my platoon was in two NVA ambushes. One, on December 8, 1968, resulted in crossfire in the Mutters Ridge area of the DMZ and went down very badly as I had three KIAs (Killed in Action) and 12 WIAs (Wounded in Action). We did complete the mission however, and my trapped squad was rescued…albeit at a great cost! The other ambush, on December 28, 1968, was a very successful platoon “Y” shaped ambush on the banks of the Cua Viet River and a lot of intelligence was garnered from the NVA bodies.

    My experience in Tanks started on January 3, 1969. I was the platoon commander with the 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 3rd Tanks. These Marines were also among the Marine Corps’ best. We participated in numerous activities such as reaction force activities, guarding bridges, convoy escorts, blocking forces, security for land clearing operations, patrolling (search and clear operations) with infantry units from both the PF (Popular Forces) and Marines, mine sweeping, extraction of KIA’s and WIA’s, and night security for the bases along Route 1 in Northern I Corps. My personal diary says my platoon hit 12 thirty-five pound anti-personnel mines during my tour (I certainly remember hitting two of them). It also seems like we were taking rocket/mortar fire at least twice a week along the DMZ and at small forward bases. We called these violations of the DMZ into the Paris Peace talks via Quang Tri.

    Besides ambushes, incoming artillery and snipers for the typical infantryman (Marine Grunt) in jungle warfare, there was jungle rot that had to be lanced nightly by a corpsman. There was a particularly bad problem keeping the leeches and bamboo spiders at bay in the humid jungle canopy. Then there were the rats all over those mountains. You had to get some sleep at some point, so when you laid down on the jungle floor with your poncho liner, you just knew they were coming, you could feel their weight on your chest and they would try to get at the food left on your teeth from those wonderful “C”-Rats(rations)! There was also a problem with tigers probing the lines and listening posts. The one that was harassing us at FSB Argonne near the Laotian border was finally killed by a recon unit in the area.

    When I left the RVN, I was assigned to Fifth Tanks (The 5th Tank Battalion) for my final year, but at home on leave, I received a telegram about an open position at El Toro Marine Air Station as the Special Services Officer, and I only had a day to make up my mind. When I found out it was only three miles away from Newport Beach, CA, it took me only a split second to say yes to the offer and thank God for the good fortune! After I got out of the Marines a year later, I moved up to Manhattan Beach, CA and stayed there for 21 years.

    I am so proud to have been associated with these Marines and I have honored them every day since leaving the RVN through prayer and daily reflection on their sacrifices, deeds and strong love of their country.

    November Veteran of the Month – Captain John R. “Reg” Harrison

    October Veteran of the Month – 1st LT. Robert F Skeels