A local veteran put his history skills to use and found four names that should be on the Brick War Memorial, but aren’t.
“I came home. They didn’t come home,” said William Duffy of Brick, a member of the Brick VFW and organizer to a special event Saturday May 26 that will show the lives and service of the 17 men from Brick who gave all.
“Brick’s Fallen Heroes” will include hundreds of slides from research and interviews Duffy completed, with the help of local history students.
“This was a labor of love,” Duffy said.
As part of his research compiling biographies of each of the men from Brick who fought and died as a result of combat in wars from the Civil War up to today, Duffy found among stacks of newspaper microfilm and other accounts that there were four additional names not on the current war memorial that should be.
The 12 names presently on the war memorial monument: Henry C. Havens and Peter Layton of the Civil War; Charles Miller of World War I; Robert H. Folsom of World War II; James Nash, James Lospinuso, Carl Lamberson Jr., Cornelius Ram, Thomas Yohn, Robert Crouter and Raymond Dege of Vietnam War; and Christopher Duffy of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The following names have to be added: John Curtis and Aaron Elmer from the Civil War, and Don R. Harger and Donald Marshall from Vietnam War.
The work of researching war dead has been helped by internet resources not in place years ago, when Duffy first took up researching as an “amateur historian.”
The genesis of this project came from his time as a color guard for Clark Township, where he worked for years in law enforcement.
“We would serve as color guard for events for Memorial Day and I’d ask, what can you tell me about this name or that name of the soldiers on the memorial there,” Duffy said. “No one around the post could really tell me much. So I made it a bit of a passion project to find out.”
For his extensive research about Clark’s war dead, Duffy had to pour over library files and even traveled to the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
“This took hundreds, probably thousands of hours,” he said. After moving to Brick several years ago, he inquired if there was any place he could read about his new town’s fallen heroes.
“Sure enough I was soon making it my next research project,” Duffy said.
With the advent of online databases and digital archives, the Brick project was helped. He also could connect with the families named in obituaries through social media.
“Everyone has been so warm, and the details they share are amazing to illustrate the lives of these soldiers,” he said.
Those details include their rank, times of service, how they died and also where they are buried and who survives them, and the neighborhood they grew up in.
Part of his presentation includes the last letter written home by Thomas Yohn, Army Private First Class, who served in the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry, of the 101st Airborne Division known as the Screaming Eagles.
Yohn, who died June 8, 1966, was killed in action while engaged against enemy ground action in Vietnam. He is buried at the First Baptist Church of Laurelton on Route 88 in Brick.
Duffy described the last letter from Yohn to his girlfriend back home: “It begins, “At least I’m still alive.’”
In working with the town, Duffy said a new memorial space may be planned outside town hall. He’s made a display of all names at the Brick VFW and as part of the Memorial Day services is organizing the special event Saturday.
Duffy, himself an Army veteran, was drafted in 1968 and served for three years, including deployment to the 38th parallel in South Korea. He also served as a drill sergeant in Fort Jackson, and then entered law enforcement in Clark.
The Brick Fallen Heroes event and display are at the VFW Post, 373 Adamston Rd, Brick.