Daniel Allum, Joseph Paul Antonelli, and Keith Held were each barely out of high school when they were sent to Vietnam to fight in the war that devastated that country and tore the United States apart.
None of Bobtown’s three residents returned alive. Each of the young men was only 20 when they died more than 8,000 miles from their homes.
The bodies of the three were brought back and lie in nearby cemeteries, but no memorials have ever been erected in Bobtown. That will change at 1 p.m. on Sunday, when a granite stone marking the life and service of Allum, Antonelli and Held is unveiled on the Bobtown Honor Roll, located outside the community fire hall of Greene County on Larimer Avenue.
The effort to permanently commemorate the three Vietnamese veterans who died in their hometown was led by John Michniak, himself a Bobtown resident and a retired correctional officer at Greene County State Prison. Michniak was struck by the fact that the names of Allum, Antonelli and Held had been engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, “but there was nothing locally”.
âPeople forget,â Michniak said. âThis must be done so that our veterans are not forgotten. “
Given the controversy that surrounded the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s, Michniak theorizes that Americans were eager to stop thinking about the conflict, and therefore the process of creating memorials was prolonged.
âIt was a time when soldiers didn’t get the welcome they deserved,â he said. “I felt I had to do it.”
Allum was born on September 2, 1945 – the day WWII ended, with Japan’s official surrender to the Allies – and was killed in action in Long An Province, then South Vietnam. on October 27, 1965. Antonelli was born on May 11, 1949 and died in Chau Doc province in South Vietnam on January 14, 1970. Held was born on January 28, 1950 and died in Phuoc Long province in the south. Vietnam June 1, 1970.
The memorial was funded through donations from the community. The response was so overwhelming that Michniak was able to easily surpass the goal of $ 2,500.
He stressed: âI had to turn away a lot of people; I didn’t want excess.