Global War on Terrorism Monument Must Keep up with Conflict Casualties

Global War on Terrorism Monument
Must Keep up with Conflict Casualties

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, April 2, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
George Masten, sergeant-at-arms, American Legion Post 35 in Hampton, and keeper of the stone, stands with the Global War on Terrorism monument which is sadly about full with names. The Legion is raising money to attach two granite wings to the monument in order to add names of soldiers from New Hampshire. Rich Beauchese/rbeauchesne@seaco

HAMPTON — There is only room for five additional names on a monument that features the names of those servicemen and women from New Hampshire who lost their lives fighting in the Global War of Terrorism.

"When we first unveiled the monument six years ago we never anticipated that we would be where we are at right now," said American Legion Post 35 Commander Ralph Fatello. "This is the ugly truth about war. We already have over 40 names on the monument and there is no end in sight for this war."

The Legion is currently working to raise funds so it can add two additional concrete panels to the first-of-its-kind monument located outside the group's hall at 69 High St. in Hampton. It will be conducting two fund-raisers in order to come up with the $10,000 needed for the project in the upcoming months.

The first fund-raiser will be a blues concert at the Winnacunnet High School, at 7:30 p.m., on May 29, which will feature performances from The Nor'Easters, Big Handsome Daddy and Margo Reola. The second one will be the first annual Cruise the Beach Hot Rod Car Show, on June 12, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., at the Ashworth Avenue parking lot at Hampton Beach.

Fatello said the local legion chapter made a commitment that on every Sept. 11 they will host a ceremony to add names to the monument of those who died during the prior year. Last year they added eight.

Currently the monument features 43 names, including Matthew S. Coutu of North Hampton, and Daniel R. Healy of Exeter.

Coutu, 23, was killed in Iraq by a sniper outside a Baghdad police station on June 21, 2005. Healy was killed June 28, 2005, when his MH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan.

Fatello said there is a need to add three more names this Sept. 11. The Post 35 commander said the harsh reality is that as long as the country is at war, the legion will have to be prepared to add more names to its monument.

"This monument is unique in that it's the only one of its kind in the nation," Fatello said. "We are the only ones who have a monument dedicated to those who died in the Global War on Terrorism."

"This is for the family and friends of the fallen," the commander said.

Post 35 unveiled the monument in 2006, on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The idea for the memorial came after Post 35 learned of two men from Hampton, Bruce Brown and Mark Brown, no relation, who died in Vietnam, but were never honored. While the post was able to finally honor the two, Fatello said its members didn't want something like that to happen again. Post Finance Officer Joe Kutt said many of the legionnaires are Vietnam veterans who know what it's like to feel forgotten.

"We didn't want it to happen to (those who died in subsequent wars)," he said.

Fatello said members of the post made a promise to the families of armed services members who have their names on the monument that their loved ones would not be forgotten.

"And we made a commitment that we will come back here every Sept. 11 and add new names to the monument, if need be," he said. "This is a living monument that will be here long after we are gone."

The monument — which was initially paid for through donations — features the likeness of the Purple Heart, which is awarded when a soldier is wounded or killed in combat, and the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, for soldiers deployed to places like Afghanistan and Iraq after Sept. 11, 2001.

Anyone who would like to make donations can make a check payable to Post 35 GWOT Fund and mail it to 69 High Street, Hampton, NH 03842.

Ralph Fatello, Commander, left, George Masten, Sergeant-at-Arms, and Allen Hughes, Judge Advocate, all members of the American Legion Post 35 of The Hamptons stand with the Global War on Terrorism monument. The monument has only space for 5 names and the Legion wants to add to granite wings for expansion.
[Rich Beauchesne photo]