May 30, 2011

Remembering departed friends and a hero on Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a sobering but incredibly important holiday. Below we present a list of members of the classes 1960-63 who are deceased. From a statistical perspective, I cannot imagine that this is close to complete.

Barbara Wittenberg Taylor contributed most of the 1960 listings. She has been working her class mailing list for the reunions that she has run. Occasionally, a surviving spouse has told her of a death. Little work has been done on 1962 and 1963.

This year it came to my attention that Butch Murphy, class of 1962, should be on the list. Comments from two of his friends are at the bottom of today's blog post. As far as I know, Butch is the only person from the first four Division Avenue High School classes to have died in Viet Nam.

There is a plaque near the Levittown Public Library that lists those who died while serving our country. A total of 33 men are listed, including 29 who perished in Viet Nam, three in Korea and one in Iraq. I saw a comment in Facebook that Kellum Grant, who is listed on the plaque, attended Division Avenue but his class was not mentioned.

IN MEMORIAM......Division Avenue High School 1960-63

Carole Arnesen , Richard Bachman, RoseMarie Bellistri, Diane Brown, Mimi Brunette, Pete Cybriwsky, Eddie Fink, Carolynn Flohl, Bruce Garabrant, Janet Goldberg, Daniel Huntley, Kenneth Kemmer, Joan Kerrigan Koster, Jim Kinane, Ann LaMar, Stephen Lilienthal, Louis Lopez, Neal Manly, Eileen Maxwell, Sterling Morrison, Pat Miscovsky Noonan, Daphne Nylund, John Sweeney, Jeanne Tlockzowski, Ronald Turner, Ray Wenz, Christine Wilkens, Stephen Zwerling

Al Baldwin, Michael Bender, Alice Buhr, Bob Burner, Sheldon Dambrot, Al DiLorenzo, Frederick Ehrlein, Mike Fitzgibbon, Leo Grant, Regina Griffin Nalty, Evelyn Grote, Jeanne Hatcher, Ken Hefele, Patricia Jacobson, Gail Leistman, Linda Merritt , Glenn Molyneux, John Nalty, Peter O’Driscoll, Michael Shaughnessy, John Thomas, Tom Toscano


Charles Adams, Janice Becker, Gail Brown, John Connolly, Ralph Del Piano, Gerard Farge, Bob Golden, Edward Hyde, Jimmy Kessee, Carolyn Greves Lincer, Joe Hochen, Edward "Butch" Murphy, Joe Panarello, Bob Rolston

Fred Barash, Bob Benn, Gordon Bradberry, Jimmy Cain, Bill Dineen, Mary Anne Galizi, Mary LaMar, Carol Polonski


From a friend who wishes to remain anonymous

About Edward Theodore Murphy. Everyone called him Butch including his family. He was the youngest and only boy of the Murphy family (Albatross Road a few doors down from the Koehlers). Butch died in Viet Nam (May 22, 1967), close to the DMZ but not sure.

He was a decorated hero for valor trying to save others, was awarded the Silver Star. On a personal note, Butch always stood up for me and anyone who was picked on when we were kids. I've always missed him.

I'm not sure how many Division Avenue students lost their lives in Vietnam. Butch would have been in the class of 1962 but left high school to work and then join the Marines. Just before I was drafted (September 1965) I saw Butch one more time. He was home on leave and was the most proud I had ever seen him. He loved the Marines.

From Jack Jacobsen 1962

The story of Butch Murphy is one of much sadness for those who were his friends. It started with the accident on a trampoline in East Meadow. A bunch of us were at a place that had trampolines in the ground and paid by the hour to use. Butch over flipped on his face smashed into edge onto a metal rod holding the springs. The impact not only broke his nose, but also eye socket, cheek bones, etc.

It took Butch years to heal both physically and mentally. Butch went into the Marines with pride and honor. We who knew Butch have always felt a sadness and a loss. I have been to the Vietnam Memorial many times and have always spent time with his name on the wall.


susan weldon said...

kellum grant lived across the street from me on blacksmith road. he was perhaps 3 or 4 years younger than i was. he was a sweet polite good kid. i liked him a lot.

coincidently, i think his nickname was butchie.

Frank Barning said...

Howard Whidden wrote:

I remember the first two DAHS students we lost in Vietnam. The first was a Marine, Mickey Johns (64 or 645?), younger brother of Barry Johns, '62. The next was Gary Fernandez, also 64 or 65, and if I recall correctly, an Army lieutenant. Both are on the Wall.

SoarLasVegas said...

David M. Phillips Class of 1970
USAF 1974 to 1984

Comments on Memorial Day 2011.

On this day of reverence and reflection, Memorial Day 2011, I recall a brother of a classmate of mine, Class of 1970, Billy Johns was a friend of mine who in the Spring of 1967, endured the notice of his brother Mickey Johns (DAHS class of 1966 I believe)"Killed In Action" Viet Nam. Adding to the personal tragedy, Mickey's death was friendly fire related.

Subsequently and with the highest respect, Mickey's name is inscribed on the Washington, DC Viet Nam Memorial Wall. I've seen it twice and showed it to my daughter and her friend when they were in their teens in an effort to bring to reality the cost of freedom. I think that many years later as my young lady is 21, birthday tomorrow, she understands the death cost. She doesn't agree with the present war as it is conceived and conducted, but she has the highest regard for the soldiers in the fight, as her father does as well.

In the months following and beyond, I saw in Billy the deep pain of loss as he lived his life among us, his classmates in the light of his brother's death.

I recall when on the 1967 Spring day of Mickey's funeral, sitting in class when the PA announcement from Mr. Aiello had the entire school body stand for several minutes in silence as the funeral cortege drove by the front of the school as it proceeded to the cemetery. This was the first tangible connection with the reality, the cost of the war in Viet Nam, the reality of war. I can recal the gray day and everything about the feeling of the moment. It was personally sobering, a moment in time that changed my life. That day, I never forgot what the military was all about.... of killing and being killed. Our father's did this before us and now, on this day did I savor the depth of the reality of war's cost.

On this Memorial Day, let us all think of the loss ongoing in Afghanistan where yesterday, seven flag draped caskets arrived to Dover AFB, DE for identification and preparation for return to the families and subsequent burial; troops killed burtally in battle.

I support the troops who fight for our freedom. for the way we live so freely. I do not support the war, the conflict they presently and for the past 10 and more years have been engaged. In these years, as simple 747 cargo jet fight engineer for Atlas Air Cargo, I have had opportunity to operate many, many flights from the war zones. On so many flights that would transit Ramstein AFB, Germany to Dover AFB, DE, I have transported munerous flag draped caskets of the fallen, most all were dead only hours from the battlefield when they would reach our aircraft. As with Viet Nam, Afghanistan present and Iraq now somewhat recent history, the caskets come home and all in the name of freedom. I celebrate the sacrifice, saluting from my heart the fallen, and the many souls around the fallen, the family members and friends suffering loss that in this life can never be reversed.

I do not support our national policy in this conflict that our government calls a war without declaring such. We are in endless opposition with an enemy of unlimited numbers coming at our troops in the distant soaring mountains of Afghanistan. We will never prevail and the caskets will keep on coming home. This conflict needs to end.... on this Memorial Day. Let's not take the sacrifice for granted. Our soldiers are dieing. We must pay attention. A moment of silence at the Yankee game in Yankee Stadium the other night when I attended, for the soldiers fighting for our freedom was initiated at the 7th inning stretch. Very Appropriate. But...

You will not see this at the Kentucky Derby this year or at any time in time in the past, any moment of respect for the fighting an their families of the fallen who put it up for the rich and wealthy who are not putting their sons and daughters up to the war effort, for it doesn't affect them. Sad but true. Let us not be of this mindset on this holy day of remembrance.

Frank Barning said...

I have been told that Kellum Grant was in the class of 1967, and that Bill Hammer '68 also died in Viet Nam. Sadly, the list grows.

Bill Fey said...

I knew Billy Hammer very well. He was one of the first friends I made in Northside, 6th grade. We remained friends all through high school and he was in the Class of 68. After Graduation, we remained good friends as we both were members of the Levittown Fire Dept. Engine 2 on Hickory Ln. Billy's Dad was also a Charter Member. When Billy got drafted, he recomended me to take his job at the Nassau County Firemens Training Center out in Old Bethpage. He also asked me to take his spot as the writer for Engine Company 2 in the LFD monthly newsletter, Nozzle News. Billy was never affraid to enter any burning building looking to save someones life, and I'm sure he served In Viet Nam the same way. I miss my friend and I know that all of Billy's friends feel the same loss to this day.

Roslyn Haberman said...

I grew up with the Lamar Girls on the Same Street Sherwood Rd. Ann was class 1960 and Mary 1963. It is difficult to believe they are both gone. It is so difficult to comprehend this when it comes to the young we grew up with so long ago. They'll be in my prayers tonight for sure.

Larry Dos Santos said...

These are the names of those who attended DAHS and made the supreme sacrifice in Vietnam.

LCPL Micky James Johns USMC 12/24/46 to 9/20/66
CPL Edward ( Butch )Theodore Murphy USMC 8/30/44 to 5/22/67
1LT Gary Dennis Fernandez USA 3/8/47 to 1/7/68
SGT Kellum Warren Grant USA 10/23/48 to 5/4/68
CPL Robert Emmet Cain USA 9/6/49 to 5/20/70
*SP4 William John Hammer USA 1/6/50 - 3/13/71
* His home of record was listed as Nassau, NY