It costs nothing to give a parent who lost a son or daughter in the global war on terror a hug, according to Mike Mastroni of Connecticut Fallen Heroes.
On Sept. 28, six Connecticut fallen heroes and their families will be honored.
The 10th annual Fallen Heroes Memorial Tribute is set for Saturday, Sept. 28, at Indian Ledge Park in Trumbull. The annual event honors those who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam.
The Navy Band Northeast, coming down from Newport, will open at 12:30 and perform right into the national anthem at 1, when State Sen. Anthony Musto will welcome everyone to Trumbull. Miss Connecticut 2009, Morgan Amarone, will be the master of ceremonies.
The six fallen heroes being remembered that day will be Navy SEAL SOC Brian Bill of Stamford, Lt.j.g. Michael DeBartolomeo of Stamford, Sgt. Robert Leska of Trumbull, Sgt. Joseph Nolan of Waterbury, Staff Sgt. Edwin Rivera of Waterford and Pfc. Eric Soufrine of Woodbridge.
One of the dignitaries scheduled to speak on behalf of fallen hero Eric Soufrine is Bridgeport native Anita McBride, who is making her way from Washington, D.C., where she teaches at American University. McBride was the former chief of staff for first lady Laura Bush and adviser to President George W. Bush. She said recently that she is “humbled and honored” to be presenter for the young 20-year old from Woodbridge resident. Soufrine was killed in action in June 2011.
Other speakers include U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, Navy Capt. Steven Black (Ret.), Navy SEAL Capt. Andrew Bisset (Ret.), and also former Trumbull First Selectman Ray Baldwin, who will be the presenter on behalf of his childhood friend Sgt. Robert Leska, killed in South Vietnam in 1968 after only a few months after being deployed.
The Connecticut Fallen Heroes Foundation always likes to include at least one fallen service member from Vietnam.
“Those soldiers were so forgotten about,” said founder and Chairman Mike Mastroni. The Connecticut Fallen Heroes Foundation chooses the date in late September because “Gold Star Mothers and Families Day” is the last Sunday of the month. The foundation has honored 45 heroes so far. Gold Star Families are given charcoal portraits, a sculpture by world-renowned artist Peter Rubino titled “Remembrance,” handmade quilts and other gifts. It’s the largest gathering of Gold Star families in the state, Mastroni said.
The Connecticut Fallen Heroes Foundation is also honoring a “living neighborhood hero” just before the Gold Star Ceremony that afternoon. Lt. Col. Guy Beardsley (Ret.) from nearby Beardsley Farms in Shelton will be included and Sen. Blumenthal will do the honors. A veteran from Korea as well as Vietnam, Beardsley has a remarkable career defending our country as a helicopter pilot.
If you plan on attending please bring a chair and perhaps an umbrella. Admission is always free, including a family barbecue. The Connecticut Fallen Heroes Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and raises funds all year for high school scholarships where our heroes attended and given to seniors pursuing a career in ROTC and for this one day to remember our fallen heroes from Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Their motto is “We Will Never Forget” and you may learn more at www.ctfallenheroes.org.