In a recent letter to the Hamden Historical Society, former Hamden Mayor John Carusone (1987-91) shared some personal memories of several Hamden men he knew, who lost their lives while serving in the military during three different armed conflicts.
A lifelong State Street area native and a longtime resident of the Sebec Street neighborhood, Mr. Carusone also provided some insights into why many of Hamden’s streets are named for our war dead.
“The idea of naming groups of new streets after war dead,” wrote Carusone, “was the brainchild of then-Town Engineer Pat Zullo, who always had the support of local veterans’ organizations. In my neighborhood, World War I vets Bamby Leo, Antonio Cardo, Ted Hesse, Joe Williamson, Stephen Smith, William Carroll, and Ed Lent became the first vets to have that honor.”
The former mayor’s State Street and Hamden High School classmate Pierce Robertson became a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. He was killed October 9, 1966, the first day of his second combat tour in Vietnam. Had he successfully completed that tour, noted Carusone, Robertson would have been slated to become a full colonel.
Lt. Col. Bush
Bob Bush was another of Carusone’s State Street classmates. According to Natrional Archives records, "Lieutenant Colonel Bush was a member of the 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron. On March 24, 1966, he was the pilot of a Thunderchief Fighter (F-105D) on a mission about 5 miles southeast of Quang Khe, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam, when his aircraft was hit by hostile fire crashed in a river and sank. His remains were recovered on December 15, 1988 and identified on September 26, 1989."
The town of West Haven initially claimed Bush as one of their own, but then-Mayor Carusone was able to document that Bush was a son of Hamden. Bush was finally honored with his name inscribed in the town hall rotunda, where all the names of Hamden’s war dead from World War I onward are listed on its marble walls.
Airman Edward Allen Lent was killed in the Korean War on June 12, 1952, when the aircraft on which he was flying was lost. He was 21 years old. Ed was a star third baseman for the Hamden High baseball team. Lent’s younger brother Charlie was a fellow teammate of Carusone’s when they both played high school baseball for Hamden.
Airman Lent was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Korean Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Korea Presidential Citation, Republic of Korea War Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Air Force Presidential Unit Citation, and the Air Force Good Conduct Medal.
U.S. Army Corporal Angelo Travaglino was a bomber tail-gunner during WWII. Following a bombing raid on the Nazi-controlled oilfields in Ploiesti, Romania, his plane gained altitude after being badly shot up. After the plane landed safely, Travaglino was found dead in his tail gunner’s position, having suffocated after his oxygen tube was damaged during enemy fire.
Angelo Travaglino’s and John Carusone’s Benton Street and Atlas Street neighbor, Frank Hearn, was with the 730th Railway Operating Battalion in France, when he was killed in May 1943. Carusone wrote, “I will never forget the Western Union rider coming on his bicycle with the telegram to Frank’s father, Frank Sr.” Hearn Lane in the Dunbar Hill section is named in Frank Hearn’s honor.
Grade 6 - 1960
Edward Kenneth Duel was born in Hamden on Sunday, October 3, 1948 to Edward J. and Ruth Duel, who lived at 104 Church Street with their young daughter Barbara. From the time he was a small boy, Eddie was passionate about baseball. Baseball! He lived and breathed it.
When he became old enough to join, Eddie played on Hamden's little league teams, developing into an outstanding player. In Carusone's opinion, "Duel was a star from the first league he ever played in Hamden little leagues.”
Carusone first witnessed Duel's impressive skills as a ball player in the early 1960s when the future mayor coached the St. Stephen’s team in the Little League. "I was named coach of the Eastern Division all-star team to play the Western Division all-stars. As a member of the Western All-stars, Eddie Duel not only hit a three-run home run in the game, but pitched the final three innings of no-hit ball to Carusone's Eastern players."
1965 Team Photo
Eddie entered Hamden High as a sophomore in the 1963-64 school year, immediately qualifying for a spot on the varsity baseball team, where he soon proved to be an outstanding pitcher and slugger. In fact, Hamden High baseball coach Ray Hartman once told Carusone that Duel was the best player he had ever coached.
CLICK on photo to enlarge, and for IDs of all pictured.
The above 1965 Hamden High team photo shows Coach Hartman in the dark jacket, with Duel the second player to the right of him. Hamden High went 16-2 that year and Eddie helped the team go on to win the State Championship that year and again in 1966.
The 1966 photo at right was taken the summer after Eddie's graduation from high school, when he was awarded a full athletic scholarship to New Haven College to play for legendary coach Frank "Porky" Vieira. Carusone notes, “Vieira still holds the record for the most baseball wins ever by a Division 1 coach” - over 1,200!
Indeed, Eddie Duel was in highly revered company. During Vieira's coaching career, over 27 of his team members, such as future major leaguer Steve Bedrosian, signed professional contracts. Bedrosian went on to become a Cy Young Award winner.
New Haven Register - Thursday, August 4, 1966
The author notes that there is no doubt that the 1960s was a tumultuous time in America. But popular culture during the last five decades, much of it driven by those in the Arts and Academia who were in the vanguard of the 60s anti-war movement and bucked "the Establishment," has led many a Gen Xer and Millennial to believe that everyone born in the 1940s and early 1950s carried picket signs, resented and belittled their parents' generation, and protested the Vietnam War while smoking a joint and listening to acid rock on FM radio on their way to Woodstock. Sorry to disappoint, but not so. Sadly, that stereotype of 1960s American youth has come to represent 1960s zeitgeist to many, especially to those who were never there.
Yes indeed, many 1960s college students and other military draft candidates vigorously protested the Vietnam War. Some of them even chose to avoid the draft by bolting to Canada. But that was not Eddie Duel, and most of the others of his generation.
Vietnam - October 1968
When Eddie received his "Greetings" from the President of the United States, there was no doubt in his mind that he would serve his country. Maybe it was the sportsman in him - these are the rules and you follow them. Or maybe it was love for his country and what it had given him.
When Eddie Duel was drafted into the Army in 1968, he was sent to Vietnam. On October 21st of that year, less than three weeks after his 20th birthday and only a month after arriving in Vietnam, Eddie went on his first patrol in Thua Thien Province. Stepping on a land mine, Private Edward Kenneth Duel was killed instantly.
In a telephone interview several years ago, Eddie Duel's sister Barbara Tito said that she and her family always dreaded the prospect of being visited by two Army officers delivering devastating news, a possibility that horrified every family with a loved one in the military.
Barbara reported that she and her family were together one evening watching TV when the doorbell rang. It was two Army officers.
Ed’s father worked for the Board of Education when John Carusone was Assistant Superintendent of Schools. “He never was able to speak about his son," wrote Carusone, "His sister, Barbara Tito, became Hamden tax collector. In 1990, George Grande and Fred Massotta donated a flagpole at Bassett Field in honor of Ed."
As part of a class project, a memorial video tribute to Eddie Duel was produced in March 2011 by Hirrah Barlas, a Westlake High School student in Austin, Texas, who obtained her material from the Duel family and from many of Eddie's friends.
With the permission and blessing of Eddie Duel's family, the Hamden Historical Society is pleased to make Ms. Barlas' moving tribute available on YouTube. We urge everyone to watch and remember Ed Duel and all the other fallen members of the military on this Memorial Day.
The year after Private Duel was killed, Col. John J. Scanlon, commanding officer of the 340th General Hospital, USAR, presented Mr. and Mrs. Duel with Eddie's Bronze Star, "for outstanding meritorious service in connection with ground operations against a hostile force during the period Oct 1 to Oct. 21."
In addition, Edward and Ruth Duel were presented with Eddie's Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, Combat Infantryman's Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, expert badge with rifle and machine gun bars and sharp-shooter badge with automatic rifle bar.
In 1982, a new street was added in the West Woods section of Hamden, right off Joyce Road. Duel Drive was named for Eddie, the first of Hamden’s ten Vietnam War dead to be so honored.
The next five, Oscar Biehl, Ralph Costanzo, Douglas Ferguson, Robert Read, and Pierce Robertson, were all honored in the mid-1980s with streets bearing their names in a 100+ home subdivision in the Sherman Valley called Honor Hill.
Much more recently, Gallagher Drive off Putnam Avenue, honors John T. Gallagher, who also died in Vietnam. In the queue for future street name honors (hopefully) are Alfred Moody, Alan Smith, and Robert Bush, all of whom died in Vietnam.
The Hamden Historical Society and its research volunteers wish to thank former Mayor Carusone for sharing these poignant, indeed powerful memories of those of Hamden’s war dead who were a part of his life. We wish everyone a safe and meaningful Memorial Day observance.