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Saluting Our War Heroes

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Saluting Our War Heroes

The Battle of Soui Tre was one of the most intense, one-day battles fought in Vietnam. It started in the early morning hours of March 21, 1967, as a search and destroy mission by U.S. military forces in the Tay Ninh Province of South Vietnam. Eugene Hackemer, of Angola, was 18 years old, having enlisted in the Army only a few months earlier, after dropping out of Lak…

History

Ronald L. Cook Jr. had plenty of inspiration to enlist in the Army when he graduated from Gowanda Central High School in 1981. A member of Seneca Nation of Indians, Cook said his three uncles all served in the military. And before telling his own story, he paid tribute to them. Wilbur Curry Jr. gave his life in the Army’s fierce 1965 battle at the Ia Drang Valley …

Erie County

Bomber pilot Herman Pawlicki served in the U.S. Army Air Force, where he flew 23 bombing missions on factories, rail stations and airfields in Austria and southern Germany – including a strike on “The Berghof,” Adolf Hitler’s vacation retreat in the Bavarian Alps. Pawlicki fought in World War II much the same way he led his life – with common sense, determination and a …

Saluting Our War Heroes

Mel Palano and Benny Constantino have known each other since they were 12. Now they’re 92. Each stood up for the other at their weddings, and they’ve leaned on each other when they lost their wives. They are the patriarchs of large families who would go on vacations together, the groups so intertwined that each family calls the other “Uncle.” And after both went to t…

Erie County

At the age of 20, Howard J. Hetherly decided to leave his job on the railroad and fight in the Korean War. “They were drafting young men at the time and I figured I’d get it over with and enlist. I figured four years would go by fast,” Hetherly said. “It was the longest four years I’ve ever spent.” Hetherly, 87, joined the Air Force and instead of going to the Korean…

Saluting Our War Heroes

By the fall of 1942, Casimer L. "Casey" Bukowski decided he had learned enough about being a machinist and quit Emerson Vocational High School to put his skills to work in support of World War II. The 17-year-old from Coit Street in Buffalo had always been fascinated by airplanes. He'd built model planes since he was boy. So it was fitting that he found work at Uebohlor…

Local News

Memories of World War II are still crystal-clear for James W. Hooper Sr. even after seven decades have passed. And the 95-year-old North Tonawanda resident has written a memoir to preserve his war stories. Each page of the book includes pictures of Hooper handsomely smiling back at the camera with detailed accounts of his experiences and travel across the United Stat…

Local News

If you didn’t know what war Army Cpl. Lawrence “Larry” Titzler served in, you would never guess his age. He’s sharp as a tack, with a great sense of humor and steel-trap memory. The 95-year-old World War II veteran has compiled memories of his long life into a short, entertaining memoir, entitled, “A Local Boy Goes to War: Memories of World War II,” just published by…

Hamburg

Dr. Laurence R. Plumb had been happily serving in the Army Reserve. One day, in the fall of 1990, he had a waiting room full of patients, plus a handful of patients in the hospital, when he got a phone call. "It was about 9:30 on a Wednesday morning," he recalled. "My secretary said, 'Dr. Plumb, there's a lieutenant who wants to talk to you.' " On the phone, the offi…

Local News

John L. Ceccato of Sanborn never would have guessed that he and his son would get together – in Iraq. To be frank, the career Air Force Reserve master sergeant, who had been a cook and maintenance worker in the Air National Guard and training manager in the Air Force Reserve at Niagara Falls Air Base, never thought he would be deployed to the war. "That was never eve…

Saluting Our War Heroes

Richard P. Vienne spent four years sailing around the Pacific Ocean with his identical twin, Robert, on a 376-foot-long Navy destroyer called the USS Lowry. Unlike the stereotypical set of twins, though, the two brothers certainly weren’t inseparable. During the Korean War, Vienne wanted to grow up and become more independent of his doppelgänger, he said. "When it…

Clarence

In the late 1930s, Stephan H. Lewy and other Jewish kids were once locked in a Berlin synagogue by Nazi soldiers who cut a gas line, leaving the children to die and suffocate. An older boy helped save them. Fearing for his life, Lewy embarked on a nearly 4,000-mile journey in 1939 after obtaining safe passage on a Kindertransport to France, and eventually a visa to the …

Local News

Stanley Brown of Angola stepped off a train on his way to boot camp, his all-white uniform turned completely gray from being covered in soot he collected on the way. The 18-year-old was drafted into the Navy in 1943, as a junior in high school. Missing his school dances, games and even graduation, Brown was shipped off to basic training with little to no knowledge of wh…

Saluting Our War Heroes

The day Clayton J. Burden turned 18 – Oct. 23, 1943 – he hopped on a street car and headed from his East Side home to the old downtown Post Office and enlisted in the Navy. At 17, he'd had no choice but to accept his mother's decision when she refused to sign the early enlistment papers. But at 18, it was his choice, and he was eager to join the fight in World War II. …