Veterans Voice: News for vets

  • Old military helmet used as a shade on a one-of-a-kind lamp by Blue Ocean Traders.  Patricia Sheridan—TNS

  • Pictured, from left: VFW State Commander Keith Jackson; Auxiliary District President and Florence Auxiliary Sr. Vice Carlyjane Dunn Watson; Matthew Tibbitts; VFW Post 8006 Commander Tom Pease; and Auxiliary State President and Florence Auxiliary Past President Sherry Grabon.

Published: 2/8/2019 3:32:57 PM

AWARD CEREMONY – The Florence VFW Post 8006 will be presenting awards to outstanding firemen and paramedics on Feb. 25th. 

BINGO – Florence VFW Post 8006 is hosting Bingo every Friday night, run by Angie Fydenkevicz and her management team. Doors open at 4 p.m. Bingo starts at 6:15 p.m. All are welcome. 

ESSAY WINNER – On Jan. 27, VFW Post 8006 sponsored student Matthew Tibbitts of Ludlow became the 1st place winner of the Department of Mass. VFW Voice of Democracy Essay contest. In his essay, Matthew addressed the theme "Why My Vote Matters" impressing the state judges with the importance of every single person's vote. Matthew won a $5,000 VFW Scholarship and $500 cash from the Auxiliary, having already won prizes at the Post and District level. For more information on this annual contest and others please contact us c/o  Carlyjane Watson, Sr. Vice; VFW Post 8006, 18 Meadow St., Florence, MA 01062.

Calling the Roll

Following is a list of local veterans whose obituaries appeared in the Gazette between Jan. 11 and Feb. 7. The information given here about their service is what was provided in each obituary.

John “Ed” Hanieski, 88, Hadley, d. Dec. 24; he served his country in the Korean War from 1951-1954 and received the Korean Service Medal with five bronze service stars.

Sophie Dorothy (Plaza) Swiercz, 95, Easthampton, d. Jan. 10; “Sergeant Sophie” enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served her country from 1943 to 1946 during World War II repairing damaged military aircraft. During her service, she won many marksmanship awards, earning the nickname “Annie Oakley.”

Gary L. Aho, 83, Amherst, d. Jan. 13; In January of 1955, Gary and a few friends joined the U.S. Army. After training in Fort Ord, in California, Gary was sent to Fort Sill, in Oklahoma, to play baseball and basketball for the Army. Because he was never in combat, Gary used to joke, in typical dry and self-deprecating fashion, that, "I won the war in Oklahoma." 

Bernard T. “Bing” Aldrich Jr., 91, Hadley, d. Jan. 13; in the fall of 1944, he enlisted in the Navy and served aboard LST 543 as a Radioman in the final days of World War II in the Pacific Theater. He was discharged in July of 1946.

Albert A. Dubois, 90, Florence, d. Jan. 13; he was a World War II veteran, serving in the US. Navy.

 Reverend Dr. George Edward Todd, Leeds, d. Jan. 14; drafted in 1943, he served in World War II seeing combat in Europe with the Eighth Armored Division. Near the end of the war, his unit liberated a concentration camp near Buchenwald.

Edward S. “Uncle Eddie” Dziuba, 93, Belchertown, d. Jan. 15; In 1944, he joined the US Navy and was stationed at Moffet Naval Air Station in California where he received training to fly F6F's and F4F's in the Pacific, based on the USS Intrepid. He received an honorable discharge on May 9, 1946.  

William J. “Bill” Matte, 94, Agawam, formerly North Amherst, d. Jan. 4; at the age of 17, Bill enlisted into the Unites States Marine Corps. Due to the Attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Bill joined the "Fleet Marine Force" 1st Division assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. Bill served in many campaigns including Guadal Canal, Solomon Islands, Cape Gloucester, Borgen Bay, Talasea and in Peleliu. A decorated War hero, Bill was the recipient of the Purple Heart and the Combat Service Commemorative Medal. 

Verne Edward Towle, 80, Easthampton, d. Jan. 13; he served his country honorably in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and then served in the Army Reserves.

Nai Yong Chang, 86, Leverett, d. Jan. 17; he enlisted in the Army.

  Russell G. Andrus, 75, Florence, d. Dec. 5; he served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War (1964-1967).

Hal Boudreau, Hatfield, d. Jan. 24; he was drafted into the Korean conflict, where he served as a hospital orderly.

David E. Hoffman, 74, Hadley, d. Jan. 26; he was a Vietnam War era Army veteran who served at the 12th U.S. Army Postal Unit in Dusseldorf, Germany, from 1965 to 1967.

Richard S. Paton Jr., 58, Southampton, d. Jan. 26; he joined the Marines, serving from June, 1979 to November, 1986 as a rifleman, machine gunner and maintenance specialist, earning the rank of Sergeant. While serving, he was awarded the Expert Rifle (2D Awd), Navy Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal (1st Awd), Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (3D Awd), Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Mast, Humanitarian Service Medal, Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal and Meritorious Unit Citation.

Glen Rubeck, 83, Northampton, d. Jan. 30; he served in the US Army.

David Gifford, 97, Northampton, d. Jan. 26; he served in World War II as a military police escort guide, US. Army.

Donald F. Moulton Sr., 72, Hatfield, d. Jan. 31; he was a veteran of the Vietnam war and did two tours in the middle to late 1960's. He was a part of the Navy, section Seabees. His role was to build bridges, roads and at the same time build barracks before the troops arrived.

Glenn P. Pierce, 87, Williamsburg, d. Feb. 2; he proudly served four years in the U.S. Navy.

Winthrop “Buzz” Foster, 75, Shutesbury, d. Feb. 1; he was a sergeant in the Army National Guard from 1965 to 1970. 

Norman Jean Roberts, 85, Easthampton, d. Feb. 1; heserved in the Korean War and was honorably discharged from the Army in 1955.

Chester “Chet” Penza, 94, Amherst, d. Feb. 2; two weeks after high school graduation, he was off to WWII. Chet was put into the Quarter Masters Outfit which was the Trucking and Transportation Division. Chet participated in the following campaigns; Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe in a 2½ ton Army truck. He moved troops, equipment and supplies to the front lines, and at one time was part of the Red Ball Express. Chet was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant. 

Veterans Voice appears twice each month. Send submissions to Veterans Voice, c/o Brenda Nelson, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Box 299, Northampton, MA 01061; or email

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