BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Mrs. Wranitz’s Contemporary America Honors classes at Governor Livingston High School had a new learning opportunity recently. Vietnam War veterans from Post 6259, Berkeley Heights, visited the students in class and shared their wartime experiences.
Stephen Falk, a former Marine Corps sergeant and retired Teacher of English, spent a day in the classes relating his personal history of an ordinary young American entering the demanding environment of Marine Corps Boot Camp at Parris Island, South Carolina and, after advanced Infantry and jungle warfare training, finding himself in combat in Vietnam. Falk spoke about his family life, and various duties as a logistics operations Marine and defensive and combat operative during his thirteen months in Vietnam.
A week later, Falk was joined in Mrs. Wranitz’s classes by Thomas Lombardi, an Army Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient; Frank Perlzak, an Army convoy driver; Marine amtrack crewman James Vincequerra; and Army Bronze Star winner Ed Mueller. After brief introductions of the other veterans, the second sessions became forums of student generated questions and veteran answers. The most common student critique was that the sessions ended too quickly.
“Most memorable thing to happen in Junior year history” wrote Caitlin Tighe.
The veterans “turned what could have been an awkward conversation into an awakening experience,” wrote Bret O’Brien.
“I wish we had more time with them,” [Emily Aponte] and, “They did an incredible job,” [David Azevedo] were some of the student reactions. Holly Morgan added:”We were able to learn about what the war was actually like from people that experienced it”
“To hear the stories from people who actually fought in the war gave me an even bigger appreciation for those who served our country,” commented Gabby Barbera.
“Mr. Falk’s story is funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking,” wrote Cory Lake.
Sam Bakaletz noted:”The two days you came into our class were more educational than any formal lesson could be,”
Gigi Abdalla summed it up:”I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and recognize myself as immensely fortunate to have listened to each of these men.”