March 29th, 2023 – Town Councilman John C. Cochrane, Jr., US Navy Captain, Ret., visited West Islip High School on Tuesday, March 29th, for their annual Vietnam Veterans memorial ceremony, honoring the 8 US service members from West Islip killed in action during the Vietnam War. The event coincided with National Vietnam Veterans Day, a nationwide celebration recognizing the countless sacrifices and achievements of all who served during Vietnam.
Alongside the Councilman, Town of Islip Deputy Planning Commissioner, Colonel. James Brennan, USMC, Ret.; and Vietnam Experience Educator and Vietnam Veteran, Mr. Kevin Murphy, US Army 1LT; spoke to those in attendance, honoring the memory and legacy of all who served.
“Eight names does not seem like many…but, next to every one of those names are parents that lost a son, brothers and sisters that lost a sibling, neighbors, teammates…all of those lives impacted by the names that you see in front of you,” said Mr. Murphy, “…it is especially important that young people, as part of their education, be reminded that freedom is not free, and that it should never be taken for granted.”
Students of Mr. Murphy’s Vietnam Experience Class stood alongside local school, community and government officials and members of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 11, as the men were honored with a wreath dedication and a moving rendition of “Taps,” played by WIHS student Brayden Prichard.
The monument was donated and designed by Vietnam Veteran Charlie Spencer, owner of Boyd Spencer Funeral Homes, and Gary Miller of Dignity Memorial Funeral Providers, in commemoration of the 8 West Islip High School graduates who gave their lives in service of our country. It is carved from the same India-mined black granite that the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. was mined from.
“Men like this served in a truly challenging time,” said Islip Councilman John C. Cochrane, Jr., “Each and every one of these service members deserve our recognition, our respect, and our gratitude. Today, we tip our hats to them, and remember their service and sacrifice,” added the Councilman.
At the ceremony Mr. Spencer presented Mr. Murphy with the VA records for each of the 8 West Islip servicemen who gave their last full measure of devotion serving our Nation, the oldest of whom was just 26 years-old. Their names are: David Frederick Bukowski; Vaughn David Connell; James Ralph Cooper; William Brian Monahan; Daniel Russell Nidds; Thomas Frank Post; Leonard Selanikio; Arthur E. McLeod.
“On behalf of all the members of the Islip Town Board, we thank each and every service member of the Vietnam War,” said Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter. “Our Nation owes you a debt of gratitude.”
Photos by Islip Town Photographer Daniel Goodrich, Vietnam Veteran.