Remembering Norwalk residents who died during wartime service

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Every year when the calendar flips to May, I think about how the month will end. The unofficial start to the summer season and the month with a revered holiday, Memorial Day, will be celebrated again in the country. How does the country “celebrate”? Should the country “celebrate”? Maybe, observing or commemorating Memorial Day, is a better verb for a sacred day.

In Norwalk’s history, year after year, the community came together on what was once referred to as Decoration Day, to pay homage to Norwalk residents who died during wartime service. The setting for this event took place in cemeteries across Norwalk. Gravesites of Norwalk’s fallen during wars, were visited, flags placed, flowers laid upon the graves of these heroes, and the city paused to remember.

The tradition continues and the community is more involved than ever. On Saturday May 21, a fantastic event took place at Riverside Cemetery. The community came together for the annual flag placement day sponsored by King Industries. If you drive by any cemetery in Norwalk, you’ll see flags at the graves of all who served. A fitting tribute led by a long-standing company and the force behind the event, Army veteran, Bob King.

Take a moment in your Memorial Day observation or commemoration, and pause at some point to think about those from our city who attended our schools and walked the very same streets we do today, who left Norwalk to defend the freedoms and liberties we enjoy as Americans, and died defending those freedoms. We can never repay their sacrifice nor their families who experienced such a tragic yet honorable loss. Some examples to consider:

  • Private Anthony Mulvoy, Army, killed in action in France in 1918; and the son he never met, Lieutenant William Mulvoy, West Point graduate, who died in a plane crash while flight training in Alabama in 1944. They are buried side-by-side in Riverside Cemetery. William was married with one daughter.
  • The Beerwa brothers – Andrew, Norwalk High School Class of 1940, Navy pilot, took off on a mission from the U.S.S. Bunker Hill in the South Pacific to bomb the Japanese fleet in 1945, but didn’t return; and his little brother by four years, Anthony, Army Engineer, engaged to be married, killed in action in South Korea in 1951.
  • Lieutenant Frank Godfrey, U.S. Army, head coach of Norwalk High School’s state championship basketball team in the 1909-1910 season, killed in action in France in WWI in 1918 at 36 years old; and his nephew, Lieutenant Alfred “Jimmy” Comstock, Norwalk High School Class of 1934, killed by a landmine in Germany on April 13, 1945, three weeks before the end of the war in Europe.
  • Norwalk High School Class of 1942 Class President, Ernest Nevidjon, U.S. Marine Corps, died in a plane crash in the South Pacific.
  • Lieutenant John “Jackie” McGuinness, Air Force, of Washington Village, South Norwalk, in a plane crash in 1951 in North Korea.
  • James “Jaime” Fabrizio, Brien McMahon High School, Class of 1964, killed along with 26 members of his infantry unit in South Vietnam on July 10, 1967. He was an only child.
  • Richard “Rit” Kaske, Norwalk High School Class of 1966, killed in action in South Vietnam on December 21, 1967. He was married with one daughter, who survive him to this day.
  • Specialist Wilfredo “Junior” Perez, Jr., Army, killed along with two others, while guarding a children’s hospital in Baqubah, Iraq on July 26, 2003.

These heroes, and so many more from Norwalk, need to be remembered and commemorated this weekend. Enjoy time with family and friends, great food, and the start of summer, but never forget. Remember their sacrifice.

Jeffrey DeWitt, CMSgt, USAF (retired)
Webmaster: https://norwalkctheroes.org
Author: https://amazon.com/author/jeffrey_dewitt


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