Danbury Steps Off In Tribute To Veterans At Walk Of Honor
Sandra Diamond Fox
Danbury Daily Voice
— On most days, we may fail to think of those who have served or are currently serving our country. But on Sunday afternoon at the Danbury War Memorial, veterans were at the top of everyone's minds at the ninth annual Walk of Honor.
The event was attended by over 100 people, including Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and state Sen. Michael McLachlan (R-24), who represents Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield and Sherman.
The event was founded and organized by Danbury resident Mary E. Teicholz, whose son William is a veteran.
During the program, Marine Cpl. Roger Rua of Cheshire was presented with the Warrior Award for his service in Afghanistan.
Rua was injured in 2012 when an IED exploded under his vehicle. Although he was initially paralyzed from the chest down, through physical therapy Rua was able to walk again. However, he now lives in constant pain and will not be able to become a police officer as he had hoped to do after completing his military service.
Boughton said the city recognizes those individuals who have given their all to protect the nation.
"In Danbury, there are probably a dozen different ceremonies that recognize and honor our veterans, and we are proud to do it. This is our mission as good Americans," he said.
"Our young men and women are there doing a job that has to be done. We honor and thank them today as well," said Boughton, who served in the U.S. Army Reserve for seven years.
Deacon Richard Kovacs of St. Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church in Danbury said that the United States is a country of faith, hope and love and that all veterans should be honored and remembered for their service.
"We bless all those who will take that Walk of Honor to remember those of us who are here and for our veterans as we continue to remember them," he said.
Blumenthal said while the U.S. does a great job in honoring veterans, the country needs to continue to ensure they get all the benefits for which they are entitled.
"We need to do better at serving the living to make sure that our veterans are truly given what they need and deserve, and services -- whether it's healthcare or jobs and skill training -- we need to keep faith with our veterans and do more to serve the living," he said.
Blumenthal added that Rua's war didn't end in Afghanistan but continues today.
"His fight wasn't over when he left there. He has shown us something about the strength and courage of our veterans that is more inspiring than anything I could say," Blumenthal said. "To come this far, I think should inspire us all."
Blumenthal said Rua's story is not unlike that of many veterans.
"The greatest generation fought on those beaches of Iwo Jima and Normandy, but then they came back and they built the interstates and they put a man on the moon and they built a whole new generation of schools," Blumenthal said. "They made America great."
At the conclusion of the program, participants took a walk along South Street, Coalpit Hill Road, Lions Way and Memorial Drive.
honors WWII vet in Walk of Honor
DANBURY — Anthony J. Yakacki‘s 19th birthday is one he will remember forever
because it was also the day he and his Marine unit entered the Battle of Iwo Jima.
He recalls his fellow Marines singing “Happy Birthday” to him in their landing craft before hitting the beach. Because it was his birthday, he was put in the back of the boat. Several Marines sitting in the front were shot and killed before landing.
Within a couple of hours of coming ashore, Yakacki was ordered to pick up the fallen medic’s bag and inject the wounded with morphine, said Carol Noreika, his daughter.
“He never did that before,” she said. “He was from a small coal-mining town in Pennsylvania.”
Noreika and her two brothers said they are proud of Yakacki, describing him as their hero and a great father.
His service was honored Sunday afternoon as this year’s recipient of the Warrior Award. He was recognized during the eighth annual Walk of Honor, held at the Danbury War Memorial to honor veterans of present and past American wars. The winner is selected from submitted nominations.
“I’m happy that they picked me,” said Yakacki, 89, of Danbury. “All of the other veterans deserve it as much as I do.”
About 150 people came out in the flurries to honor Yakacki and other veterans.
“I’m surprised that there were so many people who came out and recognized us,” Yakacki said. “I’m glad people are concerned about the veterans.”
Yakacki was a corporal with F Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment of the 4th Marine Division. He enlisted when he was 18 and was wounded on March 12, 1945, when a shell exploded nearby, less than a month after the landing on Iwo Jima. He still has shrapnel in his back.
His children have just started to learn of his war experience. He hardly spoke of it while they were growing up and they knew little more than that he fought at Iwo Jima. He began opening up after watching the graphic scene in the beginning of “Saving Private Ryan,” Noreika said.
“He got all emotional and said it was what it was like with all of the flying body parts,” she said.
She and her two brothers were able to hear more as he gave talks to local groups, including a presentation at Joel Barlow High School, where she learned he strangled a man in hand-to-hand combat.
He later spoke of the carnage he witnessed and his encounters with the Japanese.
“He said you didn’t know where they were until you saw a flash of light in the cave or where they were hiding.” Noreika said.
She learned more about his time from his conversations with other Marines at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Whenever he encounters other Marines, Noreika said, he embraces them and begins sharing stories.’
Yakacki said the phrase “Semper Fidelis” still means a lot to him and other Marines.
“Once a Marine, always a Marine,” he said.
Lt. Col. Patrick Ford, a retired Marine and psychologist at the Danbury Vet Center, spoke of the courage exhibited by those who fought at Iwo Jima. He himself entered the Marines under three veterans of the battle, and said they taught him the importance of strength in unity.
“Those who fought, recognized that the cause was more important than themselves,” Ford said.
“Mr. Yakacki and other veterans are heroes.”
Sunday’s ceremony also included a moment of silence for those who died, including last year’s recipient, John “Buzz” Hogan, who died in December from cancer caused by his exposure to Agent Orange.
The Walkway of Honor’s new pillars and bricks were also dedicated in honor of those who have served.
“We owe them the highest respect and honor,” said Lee M. Teicholz, one of the event’s organizers.
Mayor Mark Boughton also thanked everyone in the armed forces for their sacrifices and courage.
“We’re free because of the men and women who have given so much — their lives, their youth,” he said.
sought for 3rd annual Warrior Award
-- Nominations are being sought for the 3rd annual Warrior Award. It will be presented to a local veteran at the 2014 Walk of Honor in Danbury October 19th. Event organizer Mary Teicholz says it's been an honor the past two years to have so many people share their veterans' stories with the committee. People who previously sent in nominations can re-submit.
Teicholz says the committee is blessed to have so many incredibly brave veterans in our community. She created this award because it's important to take the time to say "thank you". She adds there are many heroes walking among us every day, we might not realize who they are, but know they have given of themselves. She calls this recognition a small token of gratitude.
Nominees must have served in a combat zone and exemplify the values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. The nominations should be approximately five hundred words and should include the nominee’s name, military rank, medals awarded and as many details as possible about their service.
The name and contact information of the person submitting the nomination must also be included.
The deadline for all nominations is September 22, 2014. Nominations can be emailed to
[email protected], or visit www.walkofhonor.us for additional information.
Bethel native Todd Angell was the first recipient. He received one of the nation’s highest military awards for valor, the Silver Star, for his heroism in Afghanistan as a corpsman with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. Angell was active in NJROTC, finishing out his senior year as Commander of Cadets. Immediately after high school, he joined the US Navy and was accepted into Corpsman School. Todd volunteered to become a Combat Medic, so he could attach to a marine unit knowing full well that would mean deployment to Afghanistan. He was nominated by his mother.
second recipient was a Vietnam veteran who earned the Bronze Star with Valor, Navy Achievement Medal with Valor and three Purple Heart Medals. Danny Mack Welch served 6 combat tours in Vietnam. He served from 1968-1970, and was additionally awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnamese Campaign Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with 6*’s, He fought in multiple combat operations including Operation
Persuit, Tampa, Worth, Ballard Valley, Mameluke Thrust and Allan Brook. Welch was nominated by Operation Vet Fit co-founder Dan
Danbury salutes military with Walk of Honor
DANBURY -- A former U.S. Navy corpsman who earned the nation's third-highest award for gallantry in Afghanistan was recognized Sunday when Danbury residents paid tribute to the men and women serving in the military.
Todd Angell, a 2007 Bethel High School graduate, received the Silver Star for his 500-yard, nighttime dash through an explosives-littered battlefield to save the life of a Marine sergeant whose legs were blown off by a homemade mine.
The 22-year-old former combat medic was honored with a Warrior Award before the fifth annual Walk of Honor, which organizer Mary Teicholz said is intended to show those in uniform that, "We've got your back."
Photos and videos of the event will be sent to soldiers overseas, she said.
Almost predictably, Angell, who wants to become a firefighter, preferred to deflect the attention to others when he spoke outside the War Memorial before the one-mile walk began.
"Everything I did, I couldn't have done without those guys at my side," he said.
He works on the ambulance crew at Danbury Hospital, but Mayor Mark Boughton told spectators that Angell's future as a firefighter is almost assured.
"I think we are going to make that happen," Boughton said. "These are the kinds of people we want serving our city."
Close to 100 people participated in the Walk of Honor, including several current service members, others who recently completed their enlistments, and others who served years ago.
"Paul Trudel, a former combat infantryman during the Vietnam war, said he "came to support my brothers-in-arms."
Bill McNamara, who served two years in the regular Army and six years in the Reserve, said he wanted to honor the memory of an uncle who was killed during World War II.
Former Danbury resident Bruce Kasmarski, who lives in Florida, was there because his granddaughter, Cleo, was part of the Junior ROTC program at Danbury High School and wants to become a nurse in the military.
"I always get very emotional at theses things," he said.
Taste of Greater Danbury will have a little something for everyone
By Dirk Perrefort
DANBURY -- With nearly double the number of restaurants participating in this weekend's Taste of Greater Danbury than last year, event officials say the annual downtown festival promises to be bigger and better than ever.
"For this year's Taste of Greater Danbury, CityCenter will deliver its finest festival weekend ever," CityCenter's managing director Andrea Gartner said.
She added that at least 20 area restaurants plan to participate, including Nick's Restaurant, Romy's BBQ, Thai Awesome and Bruegger's Bagels.
The variety of food expected to be available includes everything from hornados and empanadas to Philly
cheese steak sliders and stuffed eggplant.
"We're just so pleased to participate in our first Taste of Danbury, a celebration of the city's diversity and quality of culinary offerings," local developer and Bruegger's owner Dan Bertram said.
Gartner said the festival has more to offer than food, including performances by Bad Company's lead singer Brian Howe and local rockers Pete Herger & Friends.
The Ives Street side stage plans to offer a variety of new activities, Gartner said, including Build-A-Bear workshops, the Comcast Spotlight Local Chef Showdown, and line dance and belly dance instructions.
A solemn moment will be observed at noon Saturday, shortly after the opening ceremony.
For the past three years, hundreds of people participated in the annual Walk of Honor, an event spearheaded by City Council member Mary Teicholz to honor men and women in the armed services.
"It is a one-mile walk to symbolize walking a mile in a soldier's shoes," Teicholz said. "It's always amazing to see how respectful people are when the walk is ready to kick off. Everyone just stops and takes notice."
Teicholz said this year's walk coincides with weekend observances of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The one-mile walk will include a drive by Project Home
Support to collect supplies needed for the troops overseas.
This year's News-Times Community Parade, set for Sunday at 11 a.m., is expected to include members of former Mayor James Dyer's family, including his widow, Alice Dyer, who will serve as grand marshals.
24th annual Taste of Danbury and the city's 325th anniversary
By Sandra Diamond Fox
September 3, 2010
-- To honor Danbury's 325th anniversary, there will be a birthday cake celebration, as well as the unveiling of the Museum in the Streets display.
The display will be outside at the Danbury Library Plaza on Main Street. It consists of 21 3-foot tall weather-proof plaques containing information and photographs on important topics and events in Danbury.
Topics include Charles Ives, The Revolutionary War, The Danbury Fire Department, and Candlewood Lake.
The plaques provide a free walking tour of Danbury's history.
"This project preserves Danbury's history, and makes it very accessible and enjoyable for everyone," explains Kay Schreiber, manager of Danbury's Museum in the Street's project.
"The goal is that the plaques will pique people's interest so that they'll want to learn more about each topic," says
Shreiber, of Danbury.
Danbury's third annual Walk of Honor will take place on the Green. This is a one-mile walk through the city's downtown.
"The purpose of this walk is to honor all veterans past, present, and future," says Danbury's Mary
Teicholz, founder and organizer of the walk. "It gives you time to reflect on all the soldiers did to protect us."
Teicholz' 20-year-old son, William, is currently serving in the Army National Guard.
"The timing of this year's walk is very meaningful, since a lot of young men and women joined the service because of 9/11." she says. "My son did."
museum creates new exhibit
Sandra Diamond Fox
the Military Museum of Southern New England first
opened in 1995, a World War II veteran walked
through its door every hour. Today, this happens
only about once a month.
know the World War II vets are all leaving us, and
over the past few years we were pondering a way we
can pay tribute to them. We also wanted to honor the
modern-day soldiers who served their country,"
said John Valluzzo, of Ridgefield, the museum's
founder and president.
and others who work at the museum decided to create
an exhibit with universal soldiers from a variety of
time periods in military history.
was about four months ago, and the "Soldiers
Through Time" display is now complete and open.
exhibit, which Valluzo said cost the museum $15,000
to create, contains six life-size mannequins
representing soldiers who served from World War II
to the war in Iraq.
include a member of the U.S. Army Tanker Destroyer
Battalion in Holland from 1944, a U.S. Army Long
Range Recon Patrolman from 1969, and a U.S. Marine
Radio Telegraph Operator in Vietnam from 1968.
aspect on the mannequins' uniforms was meticulously
pink flashlight held by the soldier in Vietnam in
1968 was given to him by a civilian. During that
era, the government-issued flashlights were not as
powerful as those that civilians used," said
Valluzzo, 73, who was served in the U.S. Army as a
Specialist 4th Class in Korea from 1957 to 1958.
towel draped around the neck of the soldier in Laos
(in Southeast Asia) in 1969 helped against the
intense heat in that area.
keep cool, soldiers would soak a towel in water and
put it on the back of their necks, which is a place
where the most heat leaves your body," Valluzzo
said. "It was like mobile air
U.S. Army machine gunner in Iraq in 2007 has
"extensive body armor that reflects the
improved technology of the times," said Sam
Johnson, of Bridgeport, 35, executive director of
mannequin is wearing the modern-day digital
camouflage patterned uniform, and has on lightweight
shoulder and neck protectors. Also, his night scope
can now be mounted onto his helmet.
Military Museum of Southern New England is a
nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation
of U.S. military history. It gets about 20,000
visitors a year. With the exception of Johnson, the
museum is run entirely by unpaid volunteers. It's
supported by private industries and donors.
13,000-square-foot museum contains life-size
dioramas with more than 10,000 artifacts including
about 40 tanks from World War II through Operation
9/11, it has become increasingly difficult to
acquire new vehicles for the museum," Valluzzo
said. "Due to a fear of terrorism, the U.S.
government is very apprehensive about anything (of
this nature) coming into the country. As a result,
we can only solicit vehicles that are presently in
the United States."
kids and I loved exploring the turrets and seeing
that there had been a lot of wars going back in
history," said Laura Ansel, of Danbury, who
visited the museum with her son Ryan, 12 and
daughter Caitlin, 10. "They got to explore the
machines that helped protect our country."
Teicholz, of Danbury, said, "We have been to
the Military Museum countless times. It has been a
place for my husband and myself to share our family
history with our son, William, who is in the Army
father, John Gallo, served in the Naval Construction
Battalion, and her father-in-law, Sgt. William
Teicholz, served in the U.S. Army in the Armored
Division in the Battle of the Bulge.
museum is a reminder of where we have been,"
honor World War II vets
By Vinti Singh
August 9, 2010
DANBURY -- More than
40 World War II veterans around the country pass away every day,
according to Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz.
dad is an 88-year-old World War II veteran and after I heard that
statistic, I thought we should do something special before it's too
late to say thank you to the `Greatest Generation' in
Connecticut," Bysiewicz said.
Since there are no
state or federal records listing America's veterans, Bysiewicz has
spent the last three years asking town leaders to compile their own
lists of local veterans.
Since 2007, Bysiewicz
has traveled to 145 of Connecticut's 169 cities and towns to hand out
certificates to the state's men and women who contributed to the war
amazing stories, many that the veterans' own families had never heard
before," Bysiewicz said. "We heard from people who were
survivors of D-Day, Iwo Jima, and death marches in Asia.
"We heard from
people who liberated concentration camps, who were prisoners of war,
and who had to swim in shark-infested waters because their ship was
Bysiewicz has already
done ceremonies in New Milford, Ridgefield, Redding and other local
towns. She is working with the Bethel and Brookfield selectmen now to
arrange ceremonies in those towns.
part is we send out the invitations three or four weeks before the
event, and inevitably, some people pass away while the invitations are
going out," Bysiewicz said.
husband, Theodore, was honored in Ridgefield in 2008. He passed away
in February at the age of 90.
touching that after all these years, the state was very on top of
things to see all the veterans turn out to receive awards,"
Margaret Mayer said.
"I think my
husband liked it. He was very quiet about serving. I don't know how
many World War II vets we have in the country, but their numbers are
dwindling each sad day."
father, Arnold, was also honored in the Ridgefield ceremony. Arnold
Abrahamson passed away in October 2009 at the age of 91.
"Being that the
award was handed to him personally by Ms. Bysiewicz, in front of his
other surviving local World War II vets, made an absolute perfect
scenario, and a very proud moment for all attending," Erik
"It was a
welcome surprise for a 90-year-old man who gave almost 60 years of
multi-disciplined public service to his beloved country."
One story that
Bysiewicz likes to recount was told by a soldier from Plainfield, who
was severely injured in the Battle of the Bulge.
He told Bysiewicz
that while he was nursing his wounds on the battlefield, another
soldier distributed blankets to the wounded because there were too
many injured and not enough space in the hospital.
The good samaritan
soldier threw a blanket on the Plainfield man, who happened to look at
the label as he pulled up the blanket.
The label said the
blanket was made in Plainfield, Conn. The injured soldier took that as
a sign he was going to make it home.
Since the World War
II veterans program has been so successful, Bysiewicz said, her office
has begun reaching out to towns to do similar ceremonies for its
Korean War veterans.
Walk of Honor to kick off Taste of Greater Danbury
By Dirk Perrefort
September 10, 2009
DANBURY -- The weekend's downtown festivities will kick off Saturday at noon with a Walk of Honor that pays tribute to the country's veterans -- past and present.
"We can never do enough to honor our veterans and all that they've done for us," said Common Council member Mary Teicholz, who has organized the event, now in its second year.
"The walk is not intended to make a statement about the war, but about the veterans and what they've done."
The walk will kick off this year's Taste of Greater Danbury, which runs from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, and from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, along the CityCenter Green on Ives Street.
The opening ceremony will include a reading of the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as comments from guest speaker Debi
Qualtieri, a Norwalk resident whose son, Sgt. Jonathan Lootens, was killed in Iraq in 2006.
After the opening ceremony, those attending can walk a 1-mile route through the downtown that will be marked with American flags and ribbons tied to trees.
"People can walk the route once or as many times as they would like," Teicholz said, adding that more than 120 people attended the walk last year.
Pat Waldron, director of veterans affairs for the city, said the walk is a tremendous gesture for all that the men and women in the armed forces have done for the
"The average person has so much to cope with in their lives that they sort of forget what's going on in the world around us," Waldron said. "There is probably someone getting killed or wounded as we speak."
Walk of Honor aims
to support troops
By Sandra Diamond
September 10, 2008
-- City resident Mary
Teicholz feels that simply voicing her support of
our troops isn't enough.
Her feelings for
them are so strong that she wanted to do something
much more direct -- something that involved more
than just herself and her family.
That's why she
organized a Walk
-- a 1-mile walk
through downtown Danbury
this Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. The event,
sponsored by CityCenter Danbury
and the Danbury
Elks Lodge, is free and open to the public. No
registration is required. The National Anthem will
be sung at the kick-off to the walk.
It will begin on
Green on Ives Street and loop through White Street,
Patriot Drive, Liberty Street and Main Street.
Participants are welcome to walk
the course as many times as they like.
"This event is
not only to support the troops who are fighting for
us right now, but to support all veterans who've
served our country in past years," said
Teicholz, 47, who spread the word by contacting all
the veteran's organizations in the area.
to City Hall records, more than 3,000 veterans live
Teicholz, who has
been a member of the city's Common Council for five
years, said she hopes to have a better turnout than
she has seen at other patriotic events recently.
"I'm always so
disappointed by the poor turnout I've seen at
similar events around Danbury ,"
she said. "Our servicemen are there every
single day of the year, rain or shine. For all
they've done for us, this is the least we can do for
"I feel walks
like these provide a great way we can all pull
together for a common goal -- to tell our troops how
proud we are of them."
One person she's
particularly proud of is her 18-year-old son, Bill,
High School graduate who's in training to join the
He's currently in a
recruitment sustainment program at Camp Rell in
Niantic before leaving for boot camp in Missouri.
After his training, he'll begin a college program
through the Connecticut Army National Guard.
is important because it's an opportunity to show
appreciation to our armed forces, past and present,
for their actions that continue to preserve our
freedoms," Bill Teicholz said.
Other members of
Mary Teicholz's family who've served in the armed
forces are her father, John C. Gallo, who was in the
123rd Naval Construction Battalion (1943 to '46) and
her father-in-law, Sgt. William Teicholz, who was in
the 36th Armored Infantry Regiment (1942 to '45).
"This is a
great thing that Mary is spearheading," said
Pat Waldron, a Korean War veteran (1952-'57) and
director of veteran's affairs in greater Danbury .
will (remind) us of all the sacrifices made by all
the men and women to keep us free."
Teicholz said the Walk
isn't intended to make a statement about the war.
"Rather, it's making a statement about the
She plans to take
her support of the troops one step farther by
sending photographs and videos of the walk
overseas to them. "I'm doing this to bring
their morale and spirits up and let them know
they're not alone," she said.
She hopes to make
an annual event in Danbury.
resident, Margaret Mitchell, 65, thinks the Walk
is a great idea and is looking forward to taking
part in it. In 2006, her cousin, Sgt. Jonathan
Lootens, was killed in Iraq at age of 25. Her family
participated in a similar walk
in Greenwich last month.
It was Mitchell who
inspired Teicholz to organize the walk
everyone who is unable to attend the walk
can still pay respect to the troops.
are and whatever you're doing, just stop for a
moment and reflect upon how hard our troops have
worked to ensure all of us the freedom of speech,
the freedom of religion, and all the other freedoms
we have in this country -- and be thankful."