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Monuments at Bartlett Pond Park dedicated.

    Longwood Life October 2010
Longwood Veterans Forgotten No More

by
Myra Vaughn

Longwood Life

October 2010

Special thanks to Frank Bailey for his many photos of the Monument Dedication Ceremony


It was a glorious celebration…a moment in time filled with joy and sorrow, patriotism and camaraderie, peace and pride, as five new war monuments were dedicated to honor more than 500 Longwood veterans from the Revolutionary War through Vietnam.
Longwood came together on June 19th to ensure that its heroes would be “forgotten no more,” according to Paul Infranco, a Longwood Junior High School social studies teacher, and one of the driving forces behind the Bartlett Pond Memorial Park.
The project had been a personal history lesson for hundreds of Longwood Junior High School students who researched the names and biographies of the heroes through the decades.
To the veterans and their families, it was a personal moment of reflection.
And it was momentous.
“The dedication was very emotional and long overdue,” lifelong Yaphank resident Ethel Neger Glover said.  Mrs. Glover was a WAVE during World War II, and a friend to many who are represented on the monuments.
That bright June morning, elderly veterans wearing there VFW or service caps stood silently as American flags flapped in a sometimes stiff breeze.  Uniformed firemen surrounded the park and displayed enormous American flags from the trucks in a show of respect.  The Longwood Junior High School String Ensemble set the tone for the ceremony by playing patriotic music, while old friends reunited.


          
 Members of the Board of Education and Superintendent Allan Gerstenlauer are joined by the US Navy and elected officials as Navy Musician 2nd class Laura Carey sings the National Anthem.

Navy officers remained at attention with all eyes on their color guard, as they presented the colors to the rhythm of a solemn cadence.  The voice of the Navy vocalist singing the National Anthem drowned out any traffic that slowed on Middle Country Rd. to observe the hundreds of participants in a patriotic tribute to veterans from the Longwood Community. 
The hour-long celebration, led by retired Longwood Middle School Principle Carl Verdi, who was joined by elected officials, culminated a decade-long effort that began with the interview of local World War II veterans by Longwood Junior High School social studies students in the 90’s.  It blossomed into the research of all the local veterans as far back as the birth of the nation, and resulted in the production of several volumes of biographies.


Vietnam veterans gather at their monument. "it was hard for us when we came back from Vietnam," veteran Fred Wittschack said "this (dedication) was a way for our community to show us they cared," he said.


Superintendent Allan Gerstenlauer presents a Longwood veteran medal to Ethel Neger Glover, a Wave in World War II. Underage, she "borrowed" her sister's birth certificate to enlist after seeing "Here comes the Waves," with Cary Grant, She had family and friends who fought in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Three never returned from Vietnam.

“Longwood should be very proud.”
-Ethel Neger Glover, World War II
            The students simultaneously held fundraisers to finance the purchase of a permanent tribute to World War II veterans, dedicated in 2007.
            “I was so impressed that the children of Longwood wanted to have a permanent World War II monument,” Korean War veteran Harold Bachmann said, noting that his friend and Pearl Harbor survivor Jim Eagle was among the first interviewed by the students.
            It was a time for a grateful community to say “thank you for your service.”
            The monuments were unveiled one at a time by veterans’ descendants or by veterans themselves.
            As anticipated, the Vietnam veterans comprised the largest group.  The tribute brought closure to some, as more than 20 reunited to unveil the black granite monument bearing more than 80 of their names and those of their high school buddies.  The monument replicates the Vietnam Memorial in Washington.


World War II veteran and local historian Donald Bayles and his wife Doris enjoy the pinic at the Middle Island Fire Department following the dedication ceremony. The park is located on land once farmed by his great uncles who died in the Civil War.

“I was so impressed that the children of Longwood wanted to have a permanent World War II monument.”
-Harold Bachmann Korean War
         "It was hard for us when we came back from Vietnam." Veteran Fred Wittschack said. This (dedication) was a way for our community to show us they cared," he said.
            Vietnam Veteran Patrick Accardi agreed.  “In the 60’s, no one cared when you returned from Vietnam,” he said.  “Some of my buddies never came home.  It felt so good that someone cared about us.” 
            “The dedication probably meant a lot more to me than to most,” Mr. Bachmann said, explaining that he grew up knowing a lot of the World War II veterans who were customers of his family’s business, the Wellington Inn.  “They never talked about the war.  They came in just to be with their friends.”

 
Malcolm Colson, an Army veteran from the Vietnam War, and his grandson study photos of another era brought to the ceremony by Mrs. Henry.

            The memorial park holds special significance for Donald Bayles, a World War II veteran and local historian.  The Bayles name is prominent on the monuments, going back to the American Revolution.  The Civil War monument, which he and his wife Doris unveiled, includes his great uncles, Albert and Edward, who were killed together at the Battle of Cold Harbor.  The brothers had once farmed the land where the park now stands.
            “I went to school with many of the boys on the World War II monument,” Mr. Bayles said.  His grandfather grew up in the Joshua-Swezey house across the street from the park, and the family’s cemetery plot lies in the eastern most portion of Union Cemetery, adjacent to the park.

Retired Principal Carl verdi addresses the veterans. "Here, in my mind are the ultimate heroes, who put their lives on the line every day so we can have a better life."

            The Revolutionary War monument was unveiled by Jeffrey Davis, a descendent Goldsmith Davis, who fought the British and was the first postmaster of Coram.  Steve Trusnovec, a descendant of Percy Homan who fought under General Pershing in the Tank Corps, uncovered the World War I memorial.
 


Jeff Davis unveiled the Revolutionary War monument.

            Following the unveiling, Longwood Superintendent Allen Gerstenlauer and the Board of Education presented veterans or the members of their families with “Longwood Veteran” medals and baseball caps.  More than 50 were distributed.
            The memorial park is a community/school effort supported by the Longwood Alliance and the Longwood School District Student fundraisers purchased the WWII monument in 2007.  A 2009 Town of Brookhaven resolution granted LIPA/Caithness Community monies for the five new monuments.  The Town of Brookhaven Parks Central Pine Barrens Commission aided the monuments’ installation in June.  Plans are underway for a monument dedicated to the veterans of the Gulf War, Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan Wars.
 
Korean War veterans unveil their monument

 


Mr. Bayles unveils the Civil War monument



Korean War veteran helps to unveil the Korean War monument.

 


Old friends reunite

Longwood Board of Education President Michael Loguercio presents medal to Vietnam veteran Fred Wittschack. Superintendent of schools Dr. Allan Gerstenlauer looks on.

Dr. Gerstenlauer presents medal to Mr. Charles Stadier, Korean War veteran.

Dr. Gerstenlauer and World War II veteran Mrs. Henry

Dr. Gerstenlauer and World War II veteran Mr. tyronne Wilson


Yaphank veterans John Hoeffner, World War II and Martin Klein, Korean War veteran.

Footnote: Contributing to the memorial effort in addition to the Longwood Junior High School Social Studies Department and hundreds of students were Gail Bailey, president of the Longwood Alliance; Tom Talbot, president of the Middle Island Civic Association; Gary gentile, Registered Landscape Architect and member of the Veterans committee: Danny Tomaszewski, Harold Bachmann, Tom Talbot, Tom Lyons, Scott Theobold, Gary Gentile, Paul Infranco and Gail bailey, as well as officials from the Town of Brookhaven: Supervisor Mark Lesko, Councilwoman Connie Kepert and her aid Liz Krolik-Alexander; Parks Department Commissioner Ed Morris and his staff Tom Owens and John Wedell.

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