Vietnam War Memorial Dedication
2:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 27, 2002 at Veterans Memorial Park

to the Memory of
Robert P. Gandil
Thomas J. Holden
Michael J. Macarell

Memorial Dedication Service [Story & photos] [Photos Group 2]
[Proclamation][Biography][Record Story Oct. 24, 2003]


To the community of Hasbrouck Heights:

Usually, the success of any program is attributed to the most visible individual, the one out front, if you will. The Memorial Dedication event of October 27 was no exception. Although I had the honor of presiding over the event, I would be very foolish and less than honest to portray this event as my personal quest. So, it is with high regard and profound gratitude that I now recognize the individuals and groups, whose contributions elevated this proceeding to a place in Hasbrouck Heights History.

Since every facet of this program was vitally important, I cannot attribute any measure to each of these individuals, other than listing them as I recall from my notes. Accordingly, they are:

  • All my friends at VFW Memorial Post 4591, especially Ed Mahonchek, Pete De Rosa, Ralph Daniels, Elmer Winterfeld, Mike Conti and the ladies of the Auxiliary for the center pieces and the excellent service at the luncheon.

  • American Legion Post 106, especially Mike Cahill and my friend and fellow Vietnam Vet, Lou Mujica.

  • The 196th Light Infantry Brigade Assoc., especially my new friend and fellow Vietnam Veteran, Ken McKenzie, who traveled from Michigan via Florida to pay his respects to his friend, Mike Macarell.

  • The Quantico Athletes Reunion Assoc., especially my new friends, fellow Marines and Vietnam Vets, Ed Conti, and Gene Carrington, and my new friend, Kevin Jones, who all contributed a wealth of information about their friend, fellow Marine and classmate, Tommy Holden.

  • Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 800, especially the leader of the color guard, Walter.

  • Korean War Veterans Assoc. – Taijon Chapter 170, especially, my friend, Sal Altomare and Richard Onorevole.

  • Nam Knights, especially my fellow Vietnam Vet, John Rosillo.

  • H. H. Police Department, especially my friend and classmate, Capt. Bob Kronke.

  • H. H. Fire Department, especially Capt. Bob Thomasey.

  • N.J. State Police, Bloomfield Barracks, especially my son, Dan Vecchio and Joe Brennan, Bag Piper.

  • Bergen County Sheriff’s Department, especially Doug Lanzo and Lt. Bigott.

  • H. H. Dept of Public Works, especially Jim Schneider and Angelo Roccamo.

  • The entire staff of the Observer, especially Cathy Brunetti and Donna Woods.

  • My friend, fellow Marine and Vietnam Vet, Ray Alameda for his excellent rendition of our National Anthem.

  • My good friend, fellow Vietnam Vet and neighbor, Tony Mayo, whose position as Sergeant of the Guard, added a particular military flavor that I was trying to achieve.

  • My friend and classmate, Bob Searle, whose impassioned presentation made it obvious to all what Mike Macarell meant to us.

  • Councilmen Justin DiPisa and John Wassberg, who from the first meeting agreed to the design, placement and cost of the Memorial Plaque and shared in my enthusiasm of the prospect of having some kind of memorial service.

  • Mayor William Torre and Assemblywomen Rose Marie Heck for their excellent and moving speeches, that I am certain touched the hearts of the families of our three heroes.

  • Congressman Steven Rothman and State Senator Joseph Coniglio, whose mere presence spoke volumes to the families and whose words moved many, if not all, of the Vietnam Vets.

  • Freeholder Louis Tedesco, who by innocent error, was never recognized at the ceremony and graciously never even mentioned it – you honored us by your presence.

  • Douglas Grunn, Bugles Across America, for a rendition of "TAPS", that I personally have never been more moved.

  • Barbara Bosch, a resident of our town, who was a classmate of Tommy Holden and volunteered her time to publicize our event.

  • Fellow Vietnam Vet and Marine, John Huhn, who pointed me in the right direction when I started my search for the family of Robert Gandil.

  • My new friend, John Macarell, who was my initial point of contact and through his efforts, was able to have over 20 of his family attend the service.

  • Ursula Holden-Corr, cousin to Tommy Holden, for supplying me information about Tommy’s childhood and the impact his death had on the family.

  • Louise Cowan, lone surviving sister of Mike Macarell, for fighting off the grief of revisiting the circumstances surrounding Mike’s death and supplying me with information about Mike’s tenure in the military and his life at home.

  • Karen, Eileen, Alice and Victoria for providing me with very personal and sensitive memoirs and trusting me with their custody.

  • Carolyn Huelster, a classmate of Robert Gandil, could not attend the service due to the passing of her husband. She was my point of contact in attempting to locate other classmates of Robert.

  • Chad Jenkins and his crew, for volunteering to document our service in film.

  • My nephew, Bill Hein, for video taping the entire proceeding.

  • Fellow Marine, John Gunn, who publishes an internet periodical to and about Marines in all levels of sports – for including in one of his mailings a significant amount of space devoted to our Memorial Service and the three men that we honored.

  • Our Borough Clerk, Rose Marie Sees, for all of the thankless, time consuming and creative things she did to make this event successful.

  • Superintendent of Schools, Joe Luongo, for not only encouraging a group of High school students to express good citizenship by attending the ceremony, but also, by example, attending himself.

  • The citizens of our community, who took time from their day off to show their support and demonstrate to the families of these three heroes, that they matter.

  • To my wife and best friend, Arleen, who suffered through my obsession to see this event through its completion.

And finally, to the late Mr. & Mrs. Gandil, Mr. & Mrs. Holden, and Mr. & Mrs. Macarell for giving to all of us these three special people, that because of knowing them or knowing about them, our lives are a bit more enriched.

Dan Vecchio
October 2002

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