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Washington County, Rhode Island

This county was visited August 21 and 22, 2017. 

 

 

 

General Stanton Obelisk

 
US-1 South
5153 Old Post Rd
Charlestown, Washington County, Rhode Island
 
{tab Inscriptions}
 
 
 
"Erected by
The State of Rhode Island
in memory of
Gen. Joseph Stanton, Jr.
First U.S. Senator from Rhode Island
under the Constitution from
1790 to 1793
U.S. Representative from 
1807 to 1807
Born July 19, 1739
Died December 15, 1821" 

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{gallery}/memorials/RI/Charlestown{/gallery}

{tab Tour Notes}

 

This simple obelisk stands alongside US-1 South in front of the house in which General Stanton was born. It offers no explanation of his life, or the significance of this placement, other than the information supplied by the inscription. 

Like many of the leaders of the Colonial Armies, Stanton's first military service was during the French and Indian wars. He participated in the British expedition against Quebec in 1759 and three years later was appointed Captain of the local artillery company. His political career began in 1768, serving in the Rhode Island General Assembly until 1774. 

During the American Revolution he led local and state militia brigades and returned to political offices as  a delegate to Rhode Island's constitutional convention in 1790. He subsequently held office as a U.S. Senator and Representative until 1807. He was an anti-Federalist, standing in opposition to Washington in the early years of the Republic. 

08/22/2017

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Memorial Park Honor Rolls

Matthewson St at Exchange Place
Narragansett, Washington County, Rhode Island
 
{tab World War I}
 
 
 
"Honor Roll
Town of Narragansett
World War
 
Dedicated to those who lost their place among us
and enlisted for naval or military service in the World War
1914 - 1918"
 

 

{tab World War II}
 
 
 
"Narragansett Roll of Honor
World War II
1941 - 1945"

 

 

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{gallery}/memorials/RI/Narragansett{/gallery}

 

 

{tab Tour Notes}

 

 

On April 10, 1944, 1st Lt Donald Greenman, USAAC, was flying as navigator aboard B-24D BuNo 42-41188, nicknamed "Hot Garters." The eleven crewmen were part of a bombing mission to Hansa Bay, New Guinea. Over the target area anti-aircraft fire hit "Hot Garters" and the aircraft came apart mid-air. Other aircraft crews on the mission reported seeing several parachutes open as the pieces of the bomber fell towad the floor of the jungle. 

Greenman had survived the crash and was captured almost immediaely. Three enlisted men were captured a day or two later. When Australian troops took control of the area many weeks later they also captured many Japanese troops and unit records. The logs revealed that each of these four men had been executed at various locations on separate dates, with Greenman being the first, on April 16th. 

I was able to confirm that three of the seven Hazard family men listed on the honor roll were brothers.  LtJG Peter Hamilton Hazard, USNR, Capt Rowland Hazard, USA, and Charles W.B. Hazard were the sons of Rowland H Hazard III, of Narragansett. 

Peter Hazard was killed in action on March 27, 1945 while flying his TBM "Avenger" in pursuit of a Japanese "Val" bomber that was attempting a suicide attack on American naval vessels. It is very likely that Hazard's TBM was hit by friendly fire. His brother Rowland died a hear earlier, on April 29, 1944, but I was unable to find details. 

The Gilbert surname is listed six times on the WW II honor roll, and two of them did not return. TSgt Charles H Gilbert was killed in action on July 29, 1943, while flying aboard a B-17 of the 527th Bomber Squadron of the 379th Bomber Group. PFC John E Gilbert Jr, is listed as killed in action in the Phillipines and is buried at Manila.

Grace and George Hargraves had four living children when WW II began. Everett, the oldest surving boy, and George I Hargraves Jr, the youngest, both joined up. George Jr did not come home.  

1st Lt John W Case, USA, was killed on September 14, 1944, while serving with 224th Field Artillery Battalion, 29th Division. His body lies at rest in Cambridgeshire, England.

Pvt Gaetano DeSista, was one of "The Railsplitters" of 333rd Infantry Regiment, 84th Division. Their objective was to cross the Rhine and invade Germany.. On the 14th of January, 1945, DeSista was killed as the Division was fighting through the deep snows that had fallen around Dinez and Odeigne, Luxembourg. In thickly forested areas it was difficult in the dim light of winter to see the enemy or even find the snow covered roads and paths. 

LtJG Howard Eagleston Jr, USNR, was killed July 14, 1945 when the Curtis SBC-2 "Helldiver" crashed at Mount Tarumae at Hokkaido, Japan. His gunner, Oliver Rasmussen, survived the impact and years later a book, "Chippewa Chief in World War II: The Survival Story of Oliver Rasmussen in Japan" was published.

06/xx/2017

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7th RI Vols Co G

Narragansett Town Hall
5th Ave at Central St
Narragansett, Washington County, Rhode Island
 
{tab Inscriptions}
 
 
 
"ROLL CALL
Co. G, 7th Regt. R.I. Vols
 
Presented to Town of Narragansett by 
James D. Caswell, Co G.
and 
Benjamin H. Pierce, Co K, 7th R.I. Vols
Volunteers of the Civil War 1861 - 1865"

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{gallery}/memorials/RI/Narragansett/CompanyG{/gallery}

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Very often honor roll listings are located inside a local courthouse or town hall. In this case the wood and paint listing is inside the Narragansett Town Hall. It was created by two veterans of the Civil War that returned here and continued their lives as faithful residents. 

In May of 1862 the governor of Rhode Island, William Sprague, called for men to enlist and form the 7th Regiment of Rhode Islanders for service in the war. He was responding to President Lincoln's conscription order for 300,000 men. Throughout the summer men of this tiny state gathered at Fort Bliss. Some of the older men were veterans of the Mexican War, and they were joined by farmers, merchants, and others that felt it their duty to serve. Some, however, were enlisting in order to collect a $400 bounty paid by their towns as an incentive to enlist. 

The regiment was formed on September 6, 1862, and 1,200 men were carried to Washington DC, kitted out with a fresh, high-collar, uniform and Enfield musket-rifles. They became part of First Brigade, Second Division, Ninth Corps under the command of General Ambrose Burnside. 

Burnside probably wasn't the brightest, nor the most aggresive, general of the Union Army. He took two weeks to construct a pontoon bridge at Fredericksburg, Virginia. His forces had to cross the bridge in order to march toward the Confederate capitol at Richmond. It's never a good idea to let your enemy know what your plan of advance may be, and even worse to allow them plenty of time to form a defense strategy. The men of the 7th Rhode Island paid dearly for Burnside's failures. 

Eight of Narragansetts sons were wounded at Fredericksburg on December 13th, and five were killed in action, or died of wounds received. At the end of the war the 7th Regiment had lost men in battles at Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, Jackson, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, Poplar Spring Church, and Hatcher’s Run. 

The 7th was at Appomattox when General Lee surrendered his army to General Grant. Over 200 of their number had been killed in large battles and small skirmishes. Several more had died of the diseases that run like wildfire through any concentration of troops that are beset by fatigue, poor diet and lack of suitable shelter. 

08/21/2017

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Westerly Service & Honor Rolls

US-1 South
Broad St at Granite St
Westerly, Washington County, Rhode Island
 
{tab Inscriptions}
 
 
 
"Westerly World War I Memorial
1917 - 1918
5th Co. C.A.C.  R.I.N.G.
In other branches of service
 
 
World War II
1941 - 1945
 
Korean War
1950 - 1953
 
 
VietNam War
1964 - 1975
 
 
Erected by
Town of Westerly
in co-operation with Memorial and Library Association of Westerly
 
Dedicated Armistice Day
November 11, 1937
 
Re-dedicated Veterans Day
November 11, 2002" 

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{gallery}/memorials/RI/Westerly/HonorRolls{/gallery}

 

{tab Tour Notes}

 

One hundred twenty men listed on the World War I service roll were members of the 5th Company of the Coastal Artillery Corps, Rhode Island National Guard. This National Guard unit lineage runs directly back to the Colonial Militia of Rhode Island in 1755. It appears that only one of these men did not return from the Great War, Lt Harold W. Merrill died in France on October 6, 1918, and is buried in the American Cemetery at Lorraine. 

An additional 438 men are listed as members of other services, with a dozen of them shown as died in service. The first man of Westerly to die was Wallace C Craig, who was just 20 years old and serving with Mine Squadron I in the Navy's Atlantic Fleet. 

Aging Marine Hailed As Hero

First Sgt Daniel Hunter, US Marine Corps, was probably the oldest of these Westerly men to die in combat, he was 43 years old when killed at Chateau-Thierry. The men he led over the top and into battle called him "Pops," and he had earned every bit of respect and admiration shown him when his body was discovered and removed for burial.

Hunter's first enlistment was into the Army in summer of 1898 for a six month stint. In 1901 he re-enlisted and went to the Phillippines. He liked to drink, carouse, get tatoos, and generally enjoy what his meager payroll allowance could buy. The Army, however, didn't exactly share his views on what it took to be a good soldier. By the time he left the Army to join the Marines in 1910 Hunter had been up and down the promotional ladder more than a couple of times through four different enlistment periods. 

The 35 year old Marine Corporal continued his hedonistic activities until assigned to the guard detachment at the Marine Prison in Portsmouth. Sometimes it takes a sober look from the outside to understand what it takes to succeed in uniform. Daniel Hunter finally became a good Marine, well, at least one that paid more attention to his duties than to liberty call and alcohol. Getting married probably helped too.

On the morning of June 6, 1918, FSgt Hunter was with  67th Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, a unit fighting with the 2nd Infantry Division (Army), American Expeditionary Forces. With a toot on his whistle the hardened Marine began leading the Company across a wheat field to a wooded area several hundred yards away. The Germans, a full regiment, held fire until the Marines were just 100 yards away. Hunter took three separate hits from machine gun and small arms fire, each time getting back on his feet to continue with his men, urging them on in spite of his wounds. The fourth hit, to his head, killed him. After the battle, recovery and burial crews counted nearly 1,100 Marines in the wheat field leading to one of the most famous locations in Marine Corps history, Belleau Wood. 

FSgt Hunter was posthumously awared the Silver Star, Navy Cross, and Distinguished Service Cross for his courage and leadership that day.

Classmates and Friends Go to War

Back in the days of the selective service draft, it wasn't uncommon for friends and classmates to discuss their future and consider how military service would affect them. Boys leaving high school in the first three years of the Korean War, just like those graduates of the 1960's, knew that being sucked into uniform would upset their plans if they waited for their number to come up. The logical path was to volunteer and have a slight chance of self-determination, even if it only meant that you went to recruit training with a buddy at your side. 

Louis Gaccione, Tony Giordano, and Ed Ligouri opted for the Army. They went off as a trio to boot camp and after graduation they were split up, each to a different advanced training school. Graduation day was the last that Ligouri and Giordano would see Gaccione. Just a month after turning 21 years old, on July 18, 1953, Gaccione was killed at Christmas Hill in Korea. 

Not long ago Ligouri came up with an idea to enhance the honor roll plaza area at Westerly. He formed a committee and the idea became a reality. Guys like he and Giordano could sponsor flags to adorn the memorial area, dedicating them to fallen friends like Gaccione.  Ligouri eagerly stepped up to me as I took photos during my early morning visit. He explained how the friendship of three young men continues to this day, even though one of them died on foreign soil over sixty years ago.

This too is not an uncommon situation. Many high school classmates keep in touch for decades after graduation. Even more reconnect at reunions, continuing their friendships as if the years were not a hindrance to the memories of their youth. But for those sons and daughters that followed the sound of the call to service there is a special element of pride and sacrifice that polishes every additional facet of the memories. These classmates took an oath that begins; "I, (state name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; ... "  

08/22/2017

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Westerly-Pawcatuck Honor Rolls

US-1 South
W Broad St at Main St
Westerly, Washington County, Rhode Island
 
{tab Inscriptions}
 
 
 
"Westerly-Pawcatuck War Memorial
 
In memory of all who gave their lives
and in honor of those who served
to protect our freedom
 
World War II
Korean Conflict
VietNam Conflict
 
Disabled American Veterans
Josiah Broadfoot Chapter #6
Westerly, RI" 
 

{tab Photos}

 

 

{gallery}/memorials/RI/Westerly/{/gallery}

 

{tab Tour Notes}

 

This presentation is the first of two that straddled the river which is the border between Connecticut and Rhode Island. Both locations abut a very busy street, US-1, and probably don't get many visitors beyond the group of motorcyclists that tend to congregate on the bridge between the two spots. 

My research into the fallen of the war in VietNam took me to 1st Lt, Carl W Myllymaki III, USMCR. He was a two sport athlete in high school, and particularly remembered as the kid that wanted to become a high school athletics coach. He spent his summers employed as a lifeguard at Dunes Beach, the kind of guy that made everybody feel confident of their safety as long as he was on the tower. He was also the kind of guy that would help younger kids out by paying them a quarter or two to help clean up his part of the beach. By all accounts "Bud" was friendly, full of ambition, and a natural leader. 

Upon graduating college he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and reported to OCS in October of 1966. His OCS classmates still remember him as a real Marine, one that knew Chesty Puller was a hero to be admired and followed. "Bud" was leading his Echo Company team out beyond the security zone on October 2, 1968, when somebody tripped a booby trap, wounding Myllymaki and another man. Myllymaki was airlifted out, but died of his wounds later that day.  That man that wanted to be a coach left a wife, parents, and siblings at home.

08/22/2017

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Spanish-American War Monument

Wilcox Park
Grove St at Main St
Westerly, Washington County, Rhode Island
 
{tab Inscriptions}
 
 
 
"To the soldiers and sailors
who served and to
all patriotic men and women
who helped defend the nation's honor
in the war with Spain
Dedicated July 18, 1924" 
 

{tab Photos}

 

 

{gallery}/memorials/RI/Westerly/Spanish/{/gallery}

 

{tab Tour Notes}

 

This memorial is the first that I have seen that remembers those that fought to defend the nation's honor. A quarter century had passed since the Spanish-American war had ended, maybe a few were beginning to understand that powerful special interersts had maneuvered Spain and America into a war? 

08/22/2017

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