In Memory: Remembering area war veterans

Editor’s note: This item first appeared on Dec. 25, 2011:

You will not be forgotten this holiday season.

In a small country called Vietnam in Southeast Asia, the U.S. participated in a 10-year war against communist insurgents called the North Vietnam Army (NVA) and the National Liberation Front called the Vietcong. The last rounds were fired in 1975 and the last helicopter lifted from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon when the Vietnam War had officially ended. With its end came the price one pays for going to war, a price that is not counted in dollars but a price paid with human lives. It was a war that some believed we needed to be in no matter what the cost.

The war ended and most people in our country went back to their normal way of life, but for some it wasn’t so. Wars demand each side must pay a price.

When it came to the U.S., she lost 38,209 from her Army, 14,838 from her Marines, 2,555 from her Navy, 2,584 from her Air Force, seven from her Coast Guard and 17 U.S. civilians. She also sent 153,452 American military personnel back wounded – some disabled for life.

With the holiday season here, we all need to take some time and remember those who paid the ultimate price that was demanded from war.

The war didn’t exclude Chautauqua County from the pain or sorrow; it made sure everyone felt the powers war has to take loved ones away. While participating in the holiday season please keep in mind that there are families among us who will be spending another Christmas without that special person that was taken for the price of war. That special person who had just wanted to serve his country, represent his city, town or village, and just do his duty.

Fallen Local Heroes:

John Lewis Stow, USMC, Ashville. We lost John on Feb. 3, 1968. Panel 39E, Line 019.

Roy Kenneth Steward, Bemus Point, Army. We lost Roy Nov. 28, 1971. Panel 02W, Line 079,

  • David L. Ferry, Army. We lost David on Aug. 22, 1968.
  • Robert Alexander Donnell II, Clymer, USMC. We lost Robert on Nov. 18, 1970. Panel 06W, Line 067
  • Curtis Eugene Crawford, Dunkirk, USMC. We lost Curtis on Feb. 28, 1967. Panel 15E, Line 115.
  • William George Fellinger, Dunkirk, USMC. We lost William on May 18, 1970. Panel 20E, Line 025.
  • Ronald William Freeman, Dunkirk, Army. We lost Ronald on Jan. 2, 1969. Panel 45W, Line 019
  • Dahl James LaPorte, Dunkirk, USMC. We lost Dahl on Aug. 24, 1965. Panel 05E, Line 106.
  • Harry Leonard Kaus, Dunkirk, USMC. We lost Harry on Aug. 18, 1965. Panel 02E, Line 058.
  • Vincent Joseph Rossotto, Dunkirk, Army. We lost Vincent on Feb. 27, 1968. Panel 54W, Line 005
  • Robert Samuelson, Dunkirk, Army. We lost Robert on April 7, 1968. Panel 48E, Line 043
  • Douglas Swanstrom, Ellington, Army. We lost Douglas May 21, 1969. Panel E24, Line 072
  • Robert Lee Johnson, Falconer, USMC. We lost Robert on Jan. 26, 1969, Panel 34W Line 088
  • Brent Alexander Reeder, USMC, Forestville. We lost Brent on Nov. 15, 1968. Panel 39W, Line 071.
  • Larry Earl Smith, Forestville, U.S. Army. We lost Larry on Feb. 2, 1967. Panel 14E, Line 109.
  • David William Coon, Fredonia, U.S Army. We lost David on Jan. 1, 1971. Panel 05, Line 052.
  • Perry Rocco Crise, Fredonia, USMC. We lost Perry on July 26, 1968. Panel 50W, Line 012.
  • Glen Murry McCarty, Fredonia, USMC. We lost Glen on March 28, 1967. Panel 17E, Line 063.
  • Phillip Kidd Meridith, Frewsburg, USMC. We lost Phillip on April 9, 1968. Panel 49E, Line003
  • John Franklin Barry, Jamestown, Army. We lost John on May 29, 1966. Panel 07E, Line 115
  • Lee Orman Crossley, Jamestown, USMC. We lost Lee on Oct. 7, 1966, Panel 11E, Line 055.
  • John Thomas Intihar, Jamestown, Army. We lost John on April 28, 1968, Panel52E, Line 040
  • Nicholas Paul Ligammari, Jamestown, Army. We lost Nicholas on Feb. 20, 1968. Panel 40E, Line 043.
  • Timothy Arthur Olson, Jamestown, Army. We lost Timothy on Feb. 7, 1967, Panel 15E, Line 055
  • Fredrick Alfred Verry, Jamestown, Army. We lost Fredrick on June 4, 1969. Panel 07E, Line 115.
  • Lee Alexander Conners, Kennedy, Army. We lost Lee on Jan. 14, 1970. Panel 14W, Line 32.
  • William James Hillard, Kennedy, Army. We lost William on March 15, 1969. Panel 29W, Line 045.
  • Merle Floyd Butler II, Lakewood, Army. We lost Merle on Feb. 24, 1969. Panel31W, Line 032.
  • Randall John Gustafson, Lakewood, Army. We lost Randall on Feb. 14, 1968. Panel 39E, Line 033
  • Adolf Brinkman Hamm Jr., North Clymer, Army. We lost Adolf on Sept. 22, 1968. Panel 43W, Line 62
  • Ricky J. Hills, Army, Perrysburg. We lost Ricky on July 29, 1970.
  • David Wiler Blodgeh, Poland, Army. We lost David on Oct. 5, 1965. Panel 02W, Line 106.
  • Gary John Shea, Ripley, Army. We lost Gary May 15, 1968. Panel 61E, Line 002.
  • John Bruce Cornwell, Silver Creek, Army. We lost John on July 9, 1969. Panel 21W, Line 088
  • Jack Walter Brunson, Sinclairville, Army. We lost Jack on May 31, 1971. Panel 03W, Line 59.
  • Peter Alan Kidd, Sinclairville, Army. We lost Peter Aug. 22, 1969. Panel 19W, Line 95.
  • Patrick Bridenbaker Stockton, Army. We lost Patrick on July 5, 1967. Panel 23E, Line 009.
  • David Paul Anderson, Westfield, USMC. We lost David on April 12, 1968. Panel 23E, Line 009,
  • Larry Ross Fox, Westfield, Army. We lost Larry on Dec. 20, 1968. Panel 36W, Line 049.
  • Theodore Westly Johnson, Westfield, Air Force. We lost Theodore on Nov. 17, 1967. Panel 30E, Line 009
  • Rodney McLean, Westfield, Air Force. We lost Rodney on Oct. 23, 1967. Panel 28E, Line 056

Every Christmas Eve at the Vietnam Memorial there are hundreds who come at midnight all for the same reason, placing cards and letters for their fallen loved ones.

The cards are usually from grandchildren who had never had the chance to meet grandpa yet they tell him how much they love and miss him. The letters are usually from loved ones telling the veteran how the family is doing. When this is done, the visitors start shaking hands with the others, then end up in conversation.

Making sure to list all fallen heroes the names of the above veterans were obtained from the Vietnam veterans memorial site at The photos were supplied by Al Valentin, town of Portland historian and John D’Agostino.

Chautauqua County first felt the pain of the Vietnam War when we laid to rest PFC. Harry Leonard Kaus, a U.S. Marine from Dunkirk in August 1965. A county in mourning had no idea of what yet was to come.

The war was escalating and the fallen heroes were still being sent home for final burial. In the year of 1968 – the worst year – the county counted 12 more brave veterans who paid the price of a war with still no end in sight. In 1971, the county witnessed its last fallen hero to this war. Roy Kenneth Steward, U.S. Army soldier, was lost Nov. 28, 1971.

The burials have officially ended, but we still are adding more names that this war has taken; last year Chautauqua County had Dunkirk’s Michael Gregoreski’s name added to the in memory program, a site put next to the wall for veterans who have lost their lives due to the Vietnam War.

Each and every name listed above is more then a name, date and line number.

Every name has a story with it. These brave Americans all had parents, brothers, sisters and some wives and children. No one will ever know what life would have brought to all that we lost. I wish I had the opportunity to do more stories on these fallen heroes.

– Submitted by John Fedyszyn, Vietnam veteran