BETHEL – Eight Vietnam War veterans, Dick Farren, Norm Clanton, Richard Grover, Al Cressy, John Davis, Errol Briggs, Don Feeney and Tim Sawyer, were present on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at the Bethel Historical Society’s Dr. Moses Mason House meeting room for an oral history night where they discussed their service.

The session began with some slides of Vietnam taken by Sawyer of Waterford during his time there. Then Stan Howe, society executive director, introduced the subject by recalling personal memories of two sons of Bethel who grew up here and died in the war: Jim Bartlett and Ron Smiley.

Howe said he had photographed their names on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. A Vietnam veteran missing in action, Carl Churchill, was recalled. His name is recognized officially on the stretch of Route 26 below Bethel village.

Brad Clarke, a Gould Academy history teacher, provided a brief overview of the war, noting its origins extending back to World War II and the subsequent cold war. He noted some of the war strategies and turning points as well as the controversy that has surrounded it since the end in 1975.

Howe asked each member a number of questions. Panelists included representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Questions such as the area of service, nature of the mission, outstanding memory, opinion of the Vietcong, the impact of national war strategies, the effect of the peace movement, reaction to the Vietnam Memorial, the nature of the homecoming experience and the legacy of the war were among the topics discussed.

Questions and comments also came from the audience. In closing, Howe thanked everyone for their participation and for their contribution to the country and to the cause of oral history.

Several panelists brought artifacts, including Vietcong and South Vietnam flags, photographs, maps and uniforms. A number of books, campaign materials and other artifacts of the 1960s and early 1970s were on display.

Further information about the society and its activities may be obtained by calling 824-2908 or 1-800-824-2910 or e-mailing [email protected] The Web site is www.bethelhistorical.org.


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