Tag Archives: Vietnam War

Roundup: Viet Vets, Swimming, Sports …

===================================================

It may have been lost in the run-up to Thanksgiving.

It shouldn’t be.

Earlier this week, John Brandt moderated a fascinating discussion with 4 Vietnam War veterans. Part of the Westport Library’s Oral History Project, it delved deep into the experiences of the quartet — all Westporters — and what it all means today.

Panelists included retired Army veterans Capt. Jay Dirnberger, Sgt. Preston Koster, Sgt. Bud Siegel, and retired Navy Lt. JG Tucker Mays. Click below to watch.

Missed it? No problem. Click below to watch.

=======================================================

The broken record of Staples High School swim and dive team broken records continues.

The girls finished their season in style last weekend, with 4 state open record- breaking performances.

Freshman Annam Olasewere once again dominated the 50 and 100 yard freestyle events, with state open record times of 22.58 and 50.21. The 200 free relay team of Jessica Qi, Ella Alpert, Ayaan Olasewere and Annam Olasewere recorded a record 1:35.94. In addition, their record-breaking 3:27.46 in the 400 free relay qualifies them for All-American status.

Other outstanding swims came from Jessica Qi (4th in the 100 free, 8th in the 200 free). Divers Kate Whittaker and Mia Guster finished 13th and 17th respectively. Freshman Ayaan Olasewere was 12th in the 50 free and 13th in the 100 free, while senior captain Ella Alpert placed 10th in the 100 fly.

From left: Annam Olasewere, Jessica Qi, Ella Alpertm Ayaan Olasewere.

======================================================

Speaking of sports: A new tradition began on Thanksgiving Day.

A bunch of fathers — all relatively new to Westport — reserved PJ Romano Field behind Saugatuck Elementary School for the first-ever “Westport Dadz Turkey Bowl.”

Cones were set, football flags arranged, and teams picked. A good time was had by all. Even a few hamstring pulls could not keep these guys from smiling, and enjoying the rest of their holiday weekend.

(Photo/Josh Stern)

Meanwhile, a much older tradition — the Staples boys soccer Turkey Bowl — took place at Wakeman Field.

Over 60 current and past players worked up an appetite. There were alumni from as far as California and Texas, and as far back as Staples’ Class of 1975. Guys who just finished their college season showed their stuff. So did everyone else.

There were plenty of alumni spectators too. And the weather was perfect too.

The 2021 Staples soccer Turkey Bowl. (Photo/Barry Guiduli)

=======================================================

Longtime Westporter Vermelle Miro died recently, at 88. Her funeral is set for today (Saturday, November 27, 11 a.m., St. Luke Church).

The Greenwich native had a variety of hobbies, interests and careers. She worked at Vogue magazine before opening the Westport Country Day Preschool in the 1970s.

“Mel” became a realtor in Westport in the 1980s, and enjoyed a successful career until she retired close to 40 years later.

She was a member of the Westport Young Woman’s League and Westport Rotary Club, along with many other civic groups.

Mel traveled around the world, learning about different cultures and viewing famous pieces of art. She was a talented artist as well.

Her family says, “Mel had a unique ability to connect with people on a deep level, providing a safe haven for her community of friends and acquaintances. She was a magnet to others, always willing to lend an ear to those who needed it. But er greatest joy came from her children and grandchildren.”

Mel is survived by her children, Donald (Kim Healy); son-in-law Chris Healy; grandchildren Ryan, Tyler and Brittany Healy, and grandson-in-law Steve Geiges. She was predeceased by her husband Donald Miro and her long-time partner, Patrick Mitchell.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.

=======================================================

On this holiday weekend — when all of us are stuffed — photographer Lou Weinberg says of this “Westport … Naturally” photo from Lansdowne Condominiums: “Hey, everybody’s gotta eat.”

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

======================================================

And finally … Stephen Sondheim died yesterday, in Litchfield County. The legendary Broadway composer was 91.

The New York Times calls him an “intellectually rigorous artist who perpetually sought new creative paths … the theater’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century, if not its most popular.” Click here for Sondheim’s full obituary.

Roundup: Vietnam, Veterans Day, Alec Baldwin …

=======================================================

On the heels of Veterans Day, Y’s Men member Jay Dirnberger has created a program about the Vietnam War for the Westport Library’s Oral History Project.

On November 23 (7 p.m., Westport Library) he and 3 other combat veterans — all now Westporters — will talk about their war experiences, reflect on its impact since leaving the military, then answer questions from the audience.

Captain Jay Dirnberger, US Army retired, came home from his last college final exam to find he’d been drafted. He missed his graduation to report to the Army. He completed helicopter flight training, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and assigned to an assault helicopter battalion in Vietnam in 1968.

Also on the panel: Lieutenant JG Tucker Mays, US Navy retired. He served most of 2 9-month tours at Da Nang as a boat group commander,

Air Force Sergeant Bud Siegel was assigned to an air traffic control unit responsible for controlling fighter/bombers near the North Vietnam border.

The final member of the panel, Army Sergeant and Y’s Man Preston Koster, was first assigned to Vietnam as a combat engineer, then finished his tour of duty near Saigon.

Y’s Man John Brandt, a Vietnam era Naval Reservist, though not a combat veteran, will moderate the discussion.

Jay Dirnberger served with the 1st Cavalry Division in South Vietnam.

=======================================================

Speaking of Veterans Day:

They’re years away from military service. But Boy Scout Troop 100 had the honor of accompanying and supporting veterans during yesterday’s ceremony at VFW Post 399.

Led by Scoutmaster Alexey Syomichev, the troop has dedicated this year to supporting local veterans, and the VFW post. Scouts have built relationships with VFW members, and are dedicating service hours, and leadership and Eagle projects, to benefit and support those who served.

Before yesterday’s festivities, Troop 100 cleaned and painted the VFW parking lot, provided fresh painted lines and arrows, and cleaned up the VFW grounds.”

Boy Scout Troop 100, at yesterday’s VFW Veterans Day ceremony.

=======================================================

Speaking still of Veterans Day: Ed Simek spotted this former servicemember yesterday on the Post Road, near Stop & Shop.

He held an American flag — and wore roller skates.

There must be a back story. If you know it, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Ed Simek)

======================================================

After Alec Baldwin shot and killed someone on a movie set with a prop gun, the industry has been reeling.

Among the first people to take action: Staples High School Class of 1985 graduate Alexi Hawley.

The showrunner for ABC’s “The Rookie” banned “live” guns. Instead, “air soft guns” — replicas, used in airsoft sports — will be mandatory.

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: David Roth)

Alexi Hawley

====================================================

When is a dog a turkey?

When he’s the statue outside Winslow Park Animal Hospital, and he’s decorated for Thanksgiving.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

Check out the real thing when you’re stopped at the Post Road light by Playhouse Square.

=======================================================

Speaking of the Playhouse: There’s no “doubt” that the current production of “Doubt: A Parable” — the first in-person play since the pandemic — is a hit.

It runs through November 21. Click on the trailer below. Then click here, for tickets and more information (including virtual tickets).

=======================================================

Continuing our “Westport … Naturally” fall foliage series — as long as it lasts — we offer June Rose Whittaker’s shot of Longshore’s 5th hole.

She says, “my golf game was terrible. But the scenery was fantastic.”

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

=======================================================

And finally … happy birthday to Booker T. Jones. The pianist/saxophonist/ songwriter/producer/Grammy Award Lifetime Achievement winner is 77 years old.

Thanking Our Veterans, On Their Special Day

For some Westporters, Veterans Day is a holiday. For others, it’s business as usual.

No matter what today is, all of us — all Americans, really — should take time to reflect on the millions of men and women who, over the years, have sacrificed greatly to serve our nation, and the world.

Here are just a few of the many Westporters who deserve our deepest gratitude.

———-

In March of 1944 Emanuel (“Manny”) Margolis turned 18. He was a student at the University of North Carolina, but lacked a deferment. Drafted into the Army, he was chosen as a candidate for Officer’s Training School, and taught Morse Code.

Sent to England as a forward observer radio operator, he carried a 100-pound radio on his back. He weighed just 118.

PFC Manny Margolis, age 18 in June 1944.

PFC Manny Margolis, age 18 in June 1944.

He went to France and Belgium, to the Rhine River. The Germans had blown up all but 1 bridge crossing — a railroad bridge near Remagen. Made of wood, it was not meant to handle heavy tanks and artillery. The Army sent 100 engineers to remove dynamite, and shore it up.

Manny was among the first in his unit to be sent over the bridge. Radio operators had to report back to artillery how far to set their cannon fire.

Manny was not far into the woods on the other side of the bridge when the Germans began firing. He lay down behind a tree, and was shot through the leg and kneecap. He asked to be sent back to his unit, but his war was over. It was March 17, 1945 — 1 day before his 18th birthday.

The Army got some tanks and artillery over the bridge, but it collapsed with 100 engineers working on the underside. Many were killed.

Luckily, Manny’s leg was not amputated. He had 3 major operations in England, and more after returning home in the spring of 1946. He was awarded a Purple Heart, went back to UNC and graduated in 1947.

Manny Margolis, at a Town Hall ceremony. (Photo/Craig Skinner)

Manny Margolis, at a Town Hall ceremony. (Photo/Craig Skinner)

Thanks to the GI Bill, Manny went to Harvard. He earned a master’s and Ph.D. in international law. He taught at the University of Connecticut, then was accepted at Yale Law School with 1 phone call (no LSATs or interviews).

Manny worked for civil rights and civil liberties for 55 years, and lived nearly all his adult life in Westport. He died in August of 2011, at 85 years old.

———-

Stanley L. Englebardt landed on the beach at Normandy a couple of days after the initial assault. He saw action on the front line during the Battle of the Bulge. Initially a corpsman, he was put into infantry when the Germans broke through Allied lines in 1944. A longtime Westporter, he died this past March.

Stan Englebardt, age 18, soon after entering the Army.

Stan Englebardt, age 18, soon after entering the Army.

———-

Donald Snook was a B-17 pilot in the 369th Squadron of the 306th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force. He was stationed at Thurleigh Air Force based north of Bedford, England during World War II. He flew 24 missions over Europe, and remained there with the Occupational Air Force until July 1946.

Don is now 91. He lives in Westport with his wife, Katherine.

———-

Bob Beeby served in the South Pacific during peacetime, just after the Korean War.

Bob Beeby

Bob Beeby

As a naval aviator he flew an anti-submarine aircraft to hunt for typhoons. With technology less advanced than that in today’s Prius, he went through the walls of a typhoons 1,500 feet above sea level, directly into the eye. He took readings with a sextant, and radioed the storm location to the fleet, in case they had to relocate.

Aircraft were often damaged by storms. Pilots risked their lives on emergency landings. Bob was one of them.

He has lived in Westport for 50 years. He logged over a million air miles a year as CEO of the international division of a major corporation. He is generous in time and spirit, and a loving father and grandfather.

———-

Byron Miller was a Special Forces radio operator in Vietnam. For the past 38 years, he's been a psychotherapist  in, and resident of, Westport.

Byron Miller was a Special Forces radio operator in Vietnam. For the past 38 years, he’s been a psychotherapist in, and resident of, Westport.

———-

Tom Feeley at Fort Benning Airborne School, 1962.

Tom Feeley at Fort Benning Airborne School, 1962.

———-

Robin “Bob” Custer Sr.  graduated from technical school in 1965, with a degree in drafting. He then served in the Army, seeing combat duty with the 1st Infantry Division (the “Big Red One”) in Vietnam from 1967 to ’68.

For years, Bob has played a big role in Westport. He’s been the sexton at Greens Farms Congregational Church for over 20 years (giving students on the Jennings Trail Tour the church  history), is quartermaster at VFW Post 399, and always marches in the Memorial Day Parade.

Bob Custer, standing amidst the flags he loves.

Bob Custer, standing amidst the flags he loves.

———-

Jay Dirnberger served with the 1st Cavalry Division in South Vietnam, in 1968.

Jay Dirnberger served with the 1st Cavalry Division in South Vietnam, in 1968.

 ———-

Kendall Gardiner Anderson was in Vietnam, with the U.S. Army

Kendall Gardiner Anderson was in Vietnam, with the U.S. Army

Kendall Gardiner Anderson's husband, Lt. Cdr. Robert Gavin Stewart Anderson, served in Cyprus with Her Majesty's Royal Navy. After moving to Westport and becoming a naturalized US citizen, he served his town on the Board of Finance and as second selectman.

Kendall Gardiner Anderson’s husband, Lt. Cdr. Robert Gavin Stewart Anderson, served in Cyprus with Her Majesty’s Royal Navy. After moving to Westport and becoming a naturalized US citizen, he served on the Board of Finance and as second selectman.

 ———-

And let’s not forget the Gilbertie family. John S. Gilbertie Sr. volunteered in World War I, and was awarded medals by the US, French and Italian governments for bravery.

He enlisted at 17 — just 12 years after emigrating from Italy — and served as a scout behind enemy lines in the Argonne forest, among other locations. He became a founding members of Westport’s Joseph J. Clinton VFW, was grand marshal of the Memorial Day parade, and helped organize Memorial Day ceremonies on Jesup Green for many years. His name is on the Doughboy statue on Veterans Green (with the Italian spelling, “Ghiliberti”).

John’s son Mario went to Korea. Anthony, who was younger, was a member of the Army National Guard.

Several grandchildren also served. Jay was in Vietnam, and was a member of the 1st crew of the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy. Marty was in the Navy CBs during Vietnam. Tom joined the Air Force in the 1980s, while Peter was in the infantry then.

Trevor — a great-grandson — recently returned from Afghanistan, with the Army National Guard.

———-

Thanks to all the Westport veterans we’ve mentioned — and the many, many others who also served proudly served us, over so many years.

 

7 Years On The Bridge

In the 1960s and ’70s, a good-sized group gathered every Saturday morning in front of Town Hall (the current Spruce store next to Restoration Hardware). Week in and week out, they protested the Vietnam War.

Estelle Margolis, on the bridge.

Since 2005, a much smaller vigil has taken place on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Post Road bridge. For over 300 Saturdays, several folks have held a “peace vigil” to draw attention to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Estelle Margolis was there 40 years ago. She’s still working hard for peace. This Saturday from 11-11:30 a.m., she says, “we will ‘celebrate’ the 7th anniversary of our peace vigil, if celebrating is an appropriate word for this serious mission.”

She adds:

We have failed to generate an influential peace movement in this country. I believe it would be different if we had a draft. We do get a lot of honks of approval on the bridge for our message: “End the Wars, Bring the Troops Home!, Get Out of Afghanistan, NOW!”

We will commemorate 7 long years on this Vigil. We are sick about the time we have been trapped in these two countries. President Bush created a living hell that is now 10 years old.

After 10 years we are still in Afghanistan at the insistence of President Karzai, who is known to be corrupt and untrustworthy. We support this fake “democracy” with our troops lives, financial aid and weapons while the Afghans make huge amounts of money exporting heroine. The latest figure estimates over 300,000 acres of poppies are planted every year….

The scene on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, several years ago.

How many horribly wounded young people could we have saved with a serious nationwide peace movement? How many lives? Over 6,000 dead and over 40,000 wounded. Over 400,000 who are in need of help from the Veterans Administration and a record high number of suicides among returning vets. How many more will there be? What have we done?

Come join us and lend your voice to the call for peace.

“Hell No, We Won’t Go!”

A portion of the crowd -- primarily Staples students -- protesting the Viet Nam war in 1969. (Photo/Adrian Hlynka)

For nearly 10 years, America’s all-volunteer military has fought 2 costly, controversial wars.

Protests have been muted.  A few people stand on the Post Road bridge every Saturday morning.  Someone writes an occasional letter to the editor.

At Staples, high school students — few of whom even think of serving — scarcely give Iraq and Afghanistan a passing thought.

How different things were in 1969.  Vietnam was a quagmire — and Westport was up in arms, on both sides of the issue.  Loud anti-war protests took place at Town Hall every Saturday.  After 3 hours of raucous debate the RTM passed — 17-15 — a resolution asking immediate action to withdraw from Southeast Asia.

Many Staples students — though certainly not all — were fervently anti-war.  On October 15, 1200 students — joined by some from the 3 junior highs — celebrated a national Moratorium Day.

They — actually “we,” because I was among them — marched from the Staples tennis courts, down North Avenue and Long Lots Road, all the way to the steps of the YMCA.

The long line of marchers headed downtown. The A&P was near what is now the firehouse; the Esso gas station is now a Phillips 66. (Photo/Adrian Hlynka)

We carried American flags and wore buttons saying “Peace Now” and “Hell No, We Won’t Go.”  Along the way, other students threw eggs at us.

At the Y, we listened to speeches (including one by Iowa Senator Harold Hughes).   We waved our fingers in the peace sign.  We looked around, and were stunned at our numbers.

A year earlier, we had helped drive Lyndon Johnson from the presidency — but our new president was Richard Nixon.  Finally, in 1973, a peace treaty was signed.  Two years later the last Americans were evacuated from the U.S. Embassy roof.

In 1969, Adrian Hlynka was a Staples student.  A gifted photographer, he took dozens of shots on Moratorium Day.  Here is what it looked like to protest a war, more than 4 decades ago.

A portion of the crowd in front of the Y. The Fine Arts Theater (now Restoration Hardware) was showing "Alice's Restaurant" and "Medium Cool." Police stood on the roof next door. (Photo/Adrian Hlynka)

More of the enormous downtown crowd. The current Max's Art Supplies is on the extreme left; what is now Tiffany is at the far right. (Photo/Adrian Hlynka)

Rabbi Byron Rubenstein of Temple Israel addresses the crowd from the steps of the Y. (Photo/Adrian Hlynka)

The crowd was predominantly -- though not entirely -- made up of Staples students. (Photo/Adrian Hlynka)

A Staples student states his case. (Photo/Adrian Hlynka)

Junior high students joined Stapleites at the 1969 Moratorium rally. (Photo/Adrian Hlynka)