By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, September 8, 2006
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Photo by Andrew Moore]
HAMPTON -- American Legion Post 35 will unveil its monument in honor of the 23 veterans from the state who lost their lives fighting in the global war on terrorism.
Dedication of the first of its kind monument in the country will take place at 6 p.m. on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, at the American Legion Post 35 at 69 High St., Hampton.
"We didn't want to wait 20, 30, 40 years to honor them," said Post 35 Cmdr. Ralph Fatello. "We wanted to do it now."
The monument, which was placed in front of the American Legion hall last week, will have the names of all the veterans who have lost their lives since Sept. 11, 2001. Those names include Matthew S. Coutu, of North Hampton, and Daniel R. Healy, of Exeter.
Coutu, 23, was killed in Iraq by a sniper outside a Baghdad police station on June 21, 2005. Healy was killed June 28, 2005, when his MH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan.
Col. Timothy Bailey, who served two tours in Afghanistan and received the Bronze Start, and Maj. Robert Lonergan, who served in Iraq, will be guest speakers at the dedication event.
Other keynote speakers include Gov. John Lynch, Sen. Judd Gregg and American Legion state commander Earle Beale.
"We invited all the family members of all of the servicemen that will be honored," Fatello said. "They were so receptive and thankful that we are doing this. I just hope and pray that they find the monument a fitting tribute to their sons, brothers, and husbands."
The idea for the memorial came about this summer after Post 35 learned of two men from Hampton, Bruce Brown and Mark Brown, no relation, who died in Vietnam, but were never honored. While the post was able to finally honor the two, Fatello said its members didn't want something like that to happen again. Post Finance Officer Joe Kutt said many of the legionnaires are Vietnam veterans who know what it's like to be forgotten.
"We didn't want it to happen to them," he said.
Fatello said the monument wouldn't have been possible without the dedication of the legionnaires and donations from businesses and associations.
Fatello said the legion picked the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks because many of the soldiers currently fighting the war on terror enlisted after that date.
"We know the global war on terror started long before Sept. 11," Fatello said. "But that day was a wake-up call. They saw what happened that day and stopped what they were doing to enlist to fight against these unforeseen dark cowards."
The monument that will be unveiled Monday night is a gray plaque with the names of the soldiers engraved on it. It will feature likenesses of the Purple Heart, awarded when a soldier is wounded or killed in combat, and the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, for soldiers deployed to places like Afghanistan and Iraq after Sept. 11, 2001.
"No one knows how long this war will last," Fatello said. "The unfortunate part of this project is we're going to leave room for more names to be added and every Sept. 11 we will honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice until this war is over."
Fatello said color guards from the U.S. Army and Navy and the Seacoast's own Winnacunnet High School U.S. Marine Corps Junior ROTC Color Guard, will take part in the ceremony. The Seacoast Marine Corps League's Rifle Squad will also conduct a memorial salute.