Their Memorial Day Has Arrived
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, May 26, 2006
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Lane Library photo by Bill Teschek]
HAMPTON -- Two fallen soldiers killed in the line of duty during the Vietnam War will finally be honored by their hometown.
Cmdr. Ralph Fatello of American Legion Post 35 said selectmen agreed to name the town's new rescue pier after Bruce W. Brown, who was killed in action in 1968.
An athletic field at one of the schools in Hampton will be named after Mark Brown, who was killed in action in 1969.
The two were not related.
"These two individuals have gone way too long without being honored," Fatello said.
Fatello said Bruce and Mark are the only soldiers from Hampton who gave their lives for their country but do not have something named in their honor.
Bruce, a Winnacunnet graduate, was awarded the Bronze Star medal, Silver Star and an Army Commendation Medal, while Mark, a member of the Green Berets, was awarded a Bronze Star.
"They just don't give those out to anybody," Fatello said. "They earned them and then some."
Fatello said Bruce was awarded the Silver Star for his heroic actions that cost him his life.
On Aug. 27, 1968, Bruce's platoon was conducting a reconnaissance mission near the village of Binh Yen.
While moving in the area, they suddenly came under intense hostile fire from a series of well fortified bunkers and trenches.
Trapped in a devastating crossfire, Bruce began maneuvering his tank from position to position in order to direct well placed suppressive fire into enemy lines.
Fifty meters from the enemy bunkers, his tank sustained two hits from an enemy recoilless rifle, disabling the vehicle and seriously wounding Bruce.
Fatello said Bruce passed away two weeks later from the injuries he sustained.
Mark Brown was killed in action on Sept. 27, 1969, in Cambodia.
Fatello said he doesn't know why it has taken so long for the town to honor the men.
"I think they were cursed with the last name Brown," Fatello said, noting the town already has a Brown Avenue and a Brown Park.
Local historian John Holman brought up the issue to the Legion last month. And when Fatello [and Col. Paul Lessard] found out, they went before the Board of Selectmen to see if the town could do something to honor them.
Selectmen agreed something needed to be done.
Fatello said they notified Bruce's brother, who still lives in Hampton, on what they are doing, but they haven't been able to get into contact with any relative of Mark.
"We are still trying to track down the family of Mark Brown," Fatello said. "It has been very difficult."
The only clue they have is from a message from his mother, Shirley Ladd, on the Web site virtualwall.org, a memorial for those who lost their lives in Vietnam, that was posted on Sept. 22, 2002.
The message read, "My dear son Mark, It will be 33 years tomorrow since you left us and we still love and miss you. I try not to cry because you are gone, but smile because you were here. We loved you so much."
Fatello said they want to find her because they plan on having a dedication ceremony in the near future.
CALL TO DUTY:
If you have information regarding the family of Mark Brown, contact the American Legion at 929-4695 or Cmdr. Ralph Fatello at 926-4668.