Last Tuesday, March 29, Kearny officials, veterans and the general public joined with other communities to pay tribute to those men and women who served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.
Jo Ann Northgrave, Hudson County veterans’ coordinator, said that date was designated in 2012 by President Barack Obama as Vietnam Veterans Day to “commemorate the date (March 29, 1973) that the last American soldier left South Vietnam,” aside from those listed as missing or as POWs.
This year marked the first time that Hudson marked the day with formal ceremonies, Northgrave said.
“We felt it was our obligation to do so and we’re going to be doing it every year from now on,” she said.
Observances were held, between 10 a.m. and 6:15 p.m., in seven Hudson municipalities where monuments dedicated to Vietnam veterans are located, including Kearny.
These include: Pershing Field in Jersey City; First St. and the Hudson River in Hoboken; 54th St. and Boulevard East in West New York; the traffic circle in the county’s James J. Braddock Park in North Bergen; Minnie Drive in Secaucus; First St. and Trask Ave. in Bayonne; and Veteran’s Memorial Park in Kearny.
At the Kearny event, Mayor Alberto Santos thanked Vietnam veterans for their service to their country, recognized those families who lost loved ones in the conflict along with those who were prisoners of war and those still missing in action.
He recalled that, as a child, when the last of the U.S. servicemen and women came home, for most there were no celebrations although they had fought for our country and our freedoms.
“We owe Vietnam veterans our gratitude for their service and valor,” the mayor said.
The names of those Kearny residents who made the ultimate sacrifice in service in Vietnam, between 1964 and 1973, are listed on a monument in Veteran’s Memorial Park dedicated in their memory.
They are: Cpl. Thomas Hornby, Pfc. George Matuscsak, Sgt. David W. Robertson, LCpl. Donald B. Scott, Cpl. Michael Sinibaldi, Cpl. Michael F. Branin Jr., Lt. Vincent R. Capodanno, LtC. John A. Dowd, Infantry Assaultman David B. Atkins and Leonard Ashforth (no rank listed). Also listed as a Vietnam casualty on the Kearny War Memorial Hall is Sfc. Thomas H. Welsh.
— Ron Leir