An American Town and the Vietnam War

Stories of Service from Stamford, Connecticut

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About the Book

Hundreds of young Americans from the town of Stamford, Connecticut, fought in the Vietnam War. These men and women came from all corners of the town. They were white and black, poor and wealthy. Some had not finished high school; others had graduate degrees. They served as grunts and helicopter pilots, battlefield surgeons and nurses, combat engineers and mine sweepers. Greeted with indifference and sometimes hostility upon their return home, Stamford’s veterans learned to suppress their memories in a nation fraught with political, economic and racial tensions. Now in their late 60s and 70s, these veterans have begun to tell their stories.

About the Author(s)

Tony Pavia is a retired American history teacher and the former principal of Stamford High School, Trinity Catholic High School, and New Canaan High School. He lives in Naples, Florida.

Matt Pavia teaches English and American studies at Darien (Connecticut) High School. He lives in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Bibliographic Details

Tony Pavia and Matt Pavia

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 273
Bibliographic Info: 105 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7446-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3335-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Introduction 1
Stamford, Connecticut, at the Start of the War 2
About the Interviews 5
Stamford’s Sacrifices 7
The Lives of the Fallen: Alfons Bankowski 9

One • 1964–1965: The War Hits Home 13
The Lives of the Fallen: Richard E. Broadhurst 16
Woody Broadhurst, Jr. 17
Anthony DiGiacomo 19
Diane DiGiacomo 24
The Lives of the Fallen: William B. Mitchell 27
The Lives of the Fallen: Norman J.G. Spenard 29
Mike Harding 30

Two • 1966: Guns and Butter 33
Ralph Del Vecchio 36
The Lives of the Fallen: Stuart M. Andrews 41
Alan Weisel 42
The Lives of the Fallen: William B. Nickerson 46
Bill Ferri 48
The Lives of the Fallen: Kent E. Gandy 51
Frank LiVolsi 52
The Lives of the Fallen: James A. Branson 56
Chris Munger 57
The Lives of the Fallen: Alfred A. Kaspaul 59

Three • 1967: The War Escalates 62
The Lives of the Fallen: Richard Rich 64
A Letter from the President 65
The Brothers Five 66
Donald Hunter 68
Larry Hunter 71
Lenny Hunter 72
The Rotary Club Surprise 75
The Lives of the Fallen: Duncan H. Fleming 76
Bob Doyle 77
The Lives of the Fallen: Fergus F. Connors, Jr. 80
Lt. Barbara Kesckes Pitkin and the Army Nurse Corps 82
The Lives of the Fallen: Robert K. Dwyer 83
James Sparrow 84
The Lives of the Fallen: Roger R. Cauthern 89
Wayne “Nubby” Garner 90
The Lives of the Fallen: Charles D. Kerr 93

Four • 1968: The Turning Point 95
Dan Doyle 97
The Lives of the Fallen: Charles E. Richards 102
Stewart Sprouse 103
The Lives of the Fallen: Eugene L. Manselle III 107
Frank Passero 109
Dennis Clayburn 112
Jackie Robinson, Jr.’s Long Road Home 114
Alan Sosnowitz 117
The Lives of the Fallen: Thomas R. Morris 120
Richard Prowse 121
The Lives of the Fallen: Kurt K. Jobst 127
Peter Samperi 128
The Lives of the Fallen: John P. Pellegrino 132
Douglas Baker 134
The Lives of the Fallen: Andrew D. Chowka 138
Rita Miller 139

Five • 1969: The Peak 143
The Lives of the Fallen: Jerold J. Shelton 146
Frank Ambruso 147
The Lives of the Fallen: Ronald L. France 152
Harvey Melzer 153
The Lives of the Fallen: Willie C. Davis 155
Daniel Burke 157
The Lives of the Fallen: Isaac Sapp 161
Stamford Man Refuses Induction 163
Charles W. Coleman, Jr. 164
The Lives of the Fallen: Douglas A. Arcano 169
Francis Cuddy and the Silver Star 170
Dennis Doshna 171
Moratorium 1969 173

Six • 1970–1972: “Vietnamization” 175
Greg Sigler 182
James Tessitore 186
The Lives of the Fallen: James J. Pastore, Jr. 190
William Forker 192
The Lives of the Fallen: Michael J. Vagnone 195
Dom Plateroti 196
The Lives of the Fallen: Robert J. Kiser 200
John Michaelson 201
The Flag Case of 1971 205
Richard Keeshan 206

Seven • Coming Home 211
Bill Ferri 211
Ralph Del Vecchio 212
Lenny Hunter 212
Richard Prowse 213
Frank LiVolsi 213
Jimmy Sparrow 214
Dan Burke 214
Alan Sosnowitz 214
Charlie Coleman 215
Donald Hunter 215
Doug Baker 215
Greg Sigler 216
James Tessitore 217
Frank Ambruso 217
John Michaelson 218
Richard Keeshan 218
Dom Plateroti 219
Dennis Clayburn 219
Dan Doyle 219
Stewart Sprouse 220
William Forker 220
Peter Samperi 221
Anthony DiGiacomo 221
Wayne “Nubby” Garner 221

Eight • 1973–1975: The End 223
A Ray of Light 226
Rita Romano 227
Paul and Maria Nakian 230
Chris Nakian 233
“I died in Vietnam and didn’t know it”: Paul Reutershan and the Legacy of Agent Orange 235
Rita Hornlein Ratti 236
The Trial of Roger Ligon 239
The Many Mysteries of Richard Flaherty 240
From Stamford to Saigon: Roy Nirschel 242
Stamford at the End of the War 244

Epilogue: Shattering the Myth 247
Postscript: Memorial Day 2016 251
Chapter Notes and Sources 253
Index 259

Book Reviews & Awards

“Gripping and emotionally wrenching tales by young men from a Connecticut town who were called on to fight an unpopular war and then were treated like pariahs when they returned.”—Jack Cavanaugh, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of Tunney, Giants Among Men and Season of ‘42