Haddam’s war monument got a much-needed facelift and looks terrific. A group of volunteers undertook a restoration of the monument, a project that started in December and finished up this weekend.
One of the volunteers, U.S. Army veteran Bob Kadrle, said the monument was first erected around 1930 and originally displayed the names of the men from town who fought in World War I. Since then, the names of veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War have been added—each engraved and displayed on a bronze plaque, one on each side of the rectangular structure.
Made of local blue/gray granite—the same kind as the old town hall and the jail—the monument, like a grizzled old war veteran, endured the harsh New England weather for over 80 years before it needed significant maintenance.
However, the freeze/thaw cycles of ultimately took their toll. According to Vietnam War veterans and brothers, Ron and Rick Annino, there were 12 loose stones in the monument, and all the joints had to be ground out and replaced with new mortar.
In addition, new bolts and anchors were installed. It was "a top to bottom job," according to Ron Annino. Also, while the plaques were dismounted, the veterans group had three additional names engraved on them, two for the Vietnam War and one for World War II: Alan W. Palmer and Harold F. Edman (Vietnam) and Ernest Greman, Jr., (World War II).
Three gold stars were added next to the names of the three men from Haddam who died during World War I: Hilmer Johnson, Hezekiah Porter, and William Woodruff.
The work was done in piecemeal fashion and began just before Christmas. The first step in the process was to put a secure enclosure over the monument. Then, as weather permitted, the stones were dismantled and re-placed with new mortar.
Another significant step was to recess the plaques within the monument so that they would be less exposed to the weather. The vets kept a journal of their work and number of man-hours. Overall, the volunteers put in over 200 hours to restore the town monument.
Ron Annino said the most "amazing part" of the whole process was the spirit of volunteerism that the project inspired among townspeople. Many, many people offered their support in numerous ways. The project leader, however, to whom the lion’s share of credit goes, is former U.S. Marine and Haddam resident, Eric Rich. Eric, an expert stone mason, donated his considerable talents for nothing.
Had this project been paid for by the town, the cost would have been in the $6,000 to $8,000 range.
Memorial Day festivities for the town of Haddam are about 7 weeks away. The focal point for the memorial activities is the town’s war monument. This year’s activities will be extra special, as the townspeople of Haddam have the opportunity to view a first class refurbishment of their monument. Thanks to all the vets and volunteers who carried out this worthy project!
Following is a list of volunteers who participated in the project:
Eric Rich, Stone Mason, Marine
Malcolm Meyer, Marine, Air Force
Bob Kadrle, Army
Erwin "Birdie" Burr, Army
Ron Annino, Navy
Rick Annino, Navy
Jim Woodworth, Army
Harold Edman, Navy
Stan Raczka, Electrician
Ramsey Bernard, Dunkin Doughnuts employee donated a box of coffee on December 29, 2010
Peter Santoro Construction
Madore Brothers, Vincent, Gilbert. & Raymond
Duane Brookes, Navy
Jim Morin, Navy