Giving Back

A Personal Quest To Honor Clark's Fallen Heroes

a2406a5f3cb4728c92fd_duff.jpg
William J. "Duff" Duffy, a retired Clark police officer, presented "Clark's Fallen Heroes" to ALJ juniors and seniors in preparation for Memorial Day. Credits: Susan Bonnell
ddcbd5a24c540a167cc5_harvey.jpg
James W. Harvey was killed in action in Afghanistan. Credits: Susan Bonnell
35e2a356e7da64a57034_kuspiel.jpg
Kenneth E. Kuspiel, 1964 ALJ graduate, was killed in Vietnam in February, 1968 Credits: Susan Bonnell
c901fa48d4baccb9d578_monument_start.jpg
This monument honoring Clark's World War II dead is located in front of the Arthur L Johnson High School.   Credits: Susan Bonnell
578927f19a45fa7e3658_presenting.jpg
This slide shows The Star Ledger article announcing the death of Stephen C. Benish who was killed in Ramadi, Irag, November 28, 2004. Credits: Susan Bonnell
28897aba297860859620_telegram.jpg
The telegram informing the parents of Robert L. Sevell of his death in February, 1968  Credits: Susan Bonnell
a2406a5f3cb4728c92fd_duff.jpg

CLARK, NJ - When William J. "Duff" Duffy joined the Clark Police Department in 1972, he pictured his career in law enforcement and serving the community.  Duff never knew this career path would lead him on what he calls “a forty year odyssey” that started with a simple question.   Duff, a self-proclaimed history buff, wondered about twelve names that appeared on the World War II monument outside of Arthur L. Johnson High School on Westfield Avenue in Clark.   He wanted to know more about these soldiers but no one he asked at the police station, library or around town seemed to know anything.  Sparked by curiosity and driven by his own experiences as a soldier, Duff set out on a voyage to understand and honor each of those soldiers.  

Duff’s journey started in the Elizabeth, NJ Public Library.  He searched the microfiche of the Elizabeth Daily Journal between December 7, 1941, the day of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, and August 14, 1945, VJ Day.  Knowing that these dates represented the start and end of World War II,  Duff suspected he would find the stories of Clark’s WWII heroes in these records.  The old news stories led Duff to details about how many of these men fell in the line of duty, to possible addresses where they had lived and eventually to family members and the full stories he sought.  

Duff’s success with these original twelve veterans led him to continue and broaden his investigation to find all of Clark's fallen heroes.   Over the years he has compiled a collection of stories, pictures, maps, casualty reports, medals, gravesite images, uniforms and even last letters home from many of these soldiers. His research took him as far back as the Civil War and James Bullman who died in 1864 fighting for the Union Army.

Sign Up for E-News

One letter strikes at the heart of the reader. A dad tells a baby son that he has yet to meet, other than through the words of his mom, to be a good boy and that next year they will have fun when they are together when Santa comes.   The letter, signed “Your Loving Father,” is a sobering reminder of how soon this soldier’s life ended and how empty his death left the life of a child not yet one year old.  The baby boy to whom the letter was written is now sixty-nine years old and lives in Kenilworth, NJ. 

This story and others were shared by Duff on Thursday, May 21, 2014 as he offered a presentation to honor these soldiers to the Junior and Senior classes of Arthur L. Johnson High School. His presentation, entitled, “We Remember Our Clark Fallen Heroes,” highlighted the twenty one fallen heroes of Clark from the Civil War through Operation Enduring Freedom.  

Duff shared an in-depth view of these soldiers including where they lived, how they died, where they are buried and the streets in Clark that are named for them.  Duff gave special consideration to those fallen heroes who had attended ALJ High School.  He paused and asked the students to consider that one of these soldiers might have used the locker they now call their own, to remember these soldiers walked the same halls and ate lunch in the same cafeteria.   Duff showed yearbook photos of the soldiers to remind today’s students of others that came before them and the ultimate sacrifice they made for freedom.

The last two fallen heroes Duff talked about were more recent ALJ graduates Stephen Benish and James Harvey.  Benish perished in 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Harvey in 2011 during Operation Enduring Freedom.  Harvey’s family was in the audience during the presentation.  Duff closed his presentation with a video showing the return of Sergeant Harvey’s remains to the United States in a dignified military ceremony.    

Principal Rick Delmonico closed the event by reminding students that although many tend to think of Memorial Day as beaches, barbeques and the start of summer, the true meaning was contained in Duff's words. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Clark

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_f9271be7c50b3bea46af_open_house_roselle

Wed, July 25, 9:00 AM

Durham School Services School Bus, Roselle

Hiring Event Open House Durham School Services ...

Business & Finance

Carousel_image_c78b21e6ed44eb79278a_burned_out

Wed, July 25, 7:00 PM

Cranford United Methodist Church, Cranford

Wednesday Night Prayer Time at Cranford United ...

Religions And Spirituality

Carousel_image_574768912fb23a4cacc7_bfeb2b8d2a5b0913fb60_2f2194e6f686708fbbc3_pd_fd_bbq

Sat, July 28, 12:00 PM

Clark Recreation Center, Clark

Clark PD vs Clark FD BBQ Cook-Off

Food & Drink Police & Fire

Award-Winning Senior Art Exhibited at Freeholders Gallery

July 18, 2018

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to present a new exhibit of award winning artworks by local artists age 60 and up, now on display at the Freeholders Gallery through August 29. Each of the 13 works received first place honors in the countywide Senior Art Exhibit held earlier this summer in the Atrium at Liberty Hall in Union Township.

“Each in their own unique way, ...

Residents Taking Action Against White Supremacist Fliers Found Around Bridgewater, Bedminster, Other Local Areas

July 18, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Residents of Bridgewater, Somerville, Morristown and surrounding communities are mobilizing for action after they found posters around town promoting Identity Evropa, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has labeled a white supremacist group.

According to Bridgewater resident Stacey Friedlander, a member of the “Not In Our Town – Bridgewater/Raritan” ...

Ready to Pay College Tuition Bills?

So you've applied and been accepted and your child is heading off to college shortly.    Are you ready to pay the bill that is coming soon?  Take a listen to Chris Curran's video below as he gives suggestions of what you should be doing now so you are ready to pay the bill and don't forget to check out his book College Funding ...

To Our Current and Future Representatives

July 18, 2018

To Our Current and Future Representatives - Wherever They May Be:

We can never forget we are a nation of immigrants. 

We cannot fall prey to fear, ignorance and anger when we  have been historically driven by freedom and justice. 

We must have the courage and will to fight hate, bigotry and prejudice. 

We must not wake up to what we hoped was a bad dream and ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 18

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll find out how accessing care at Atlantic Health System is now easier, more affordable and closer to home than ever, learn which item from the produce aisle could be the newest weapon against cancer, see what Atlantic Health System, the New York Times and Instagram all have in common and much more.

 

 

Obituaries

Jun 29, 1927 - Apr 23, 2018
Margaret (Peggy) Kirk Leonard passed away Monday, April 23rd, surrounded by her loved ones. Peggy ...
Read more