The following article appeared in the Northern Valley Suburbanite (NJ) on November 9, 2005, written by Howard Prosnitz
At an Oct. 26 Mayor and Council meeting, Mayor Fred Pitofsky proclaimed Veterans Day 2005 as Closter Vietnam Era Veterans Day.
Pitofsky said that approximately 130 Closter residents served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War era.Of those, four were killed in action: Kenneth Schauble, Donald Mollicone, James O’Shaughnessy and James Amendola.
The inspiration for the proclamation came from Closter resident Howard Bartholf, who has been attempting to locate all current and former Closter residents who lived in the borough during the Vietnam War era from 1959 to 1975 and who served in the U.S. military.
The Veterans Day ceremony will be held Nov. 11 at in VeteransPark on Herbert Avenue and will include the unveiling of a bronze marker in honor of Leroy S. Mead, a U.S. Marine who was killed in action in World War I.
“He was the first Closter serviceman killed in World War I,” said George Potterton, commander of the Closter American Legion Post named for Mead.
Following the ceremony there will be a reception at the Closter Elks Club, where Bartholf will speak about his project.
Bartholf will also read a poem written by former Closter resident Dave Harm honoring Closter’s Vietnam War era veterans.
Mead’s family had been members of the former Closter Congregational Church at Harrington Avenue and West Street, where the marker had previously been displayed.But the church’s membership had declined to about six persons and the building has been rented to a Korean congregation, Potterton said.Mead’s niece had requested that the plaque be relocated to VeteransPark.
Bartholf, who lives today in Virginia, enlisted in the Army in 1965 after graduating from NorthernValleyRegionalHigh School.
In what he calls a “work in progress,” Bartholf has combed NVRHS and Closter Middle School yearbooks of the time period and attempted to contact every former student from Closter.“I ask them if they had served during the Vietnam War era,” Bartholf said.
He has also worked with the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts to locate veterans.“It is a laborious process,” said Bartholf, who has located 137 names so far, up from 135 in the summer.
“We invited all those we could find who are still living or their widows, and some of the widows of those who were killed,” said Bartholf.