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NEWS
December 10, 2014 | By Jeff Gammage, Inquirer Staff Writer
On a bunk aboard the troop ship that took him to Vietnam, a soldier called "Little Ty" scrawled a message of hope and home. "See ya at the Blue Sal!" he wrote in August 1967, promising to return to North Philadelphia after a year at war. Ty's canvas rack is now at the Smithsonian, part of the institution's military collection, and a photograph of it is on display at the Independence Seaport Museum in an exhibition of Vietnam-era graffiti. But despite a decade of periodic searches by historians, journalists, and even a Philadelphia detective, Little Ty's identity has remained a mystery.
NEWS
November 1, 2014 | By Edward Colimore, Inquirer Staff Writer
  On the steep slopes of Nui Chom, North Vietnamese soldiers were waiting in a stronghold of jungle-obscured bunkers, all of them bristling with machine guns. They trained their barrels on an approaching squad of Americans in 1968, then unleashed a storm of automatic gunfire that quickly killed two soldiers and pinned down the rest. That's when Michael J. Crescenz, 19, of Philadelphia, picked up an M60 machine gun and single-handedly rushed the bunkers, taking out three of them and killing six enemy soldiers.
NEWS
October 20, 2014 | By Jeff Gammage, Inquirer Staff Writer
Nearly 50 years ago, on the bunk of the troopship that carried him to the Vietnam War, Pvt. R.T. DiFerdinando scribbled an enigmatic message. He drew a Valentine's heart that bore the name of a woman - the meaning of that obvious enough. Nearby, he wrote his name and an odd phrase, "The Fabulous Furie's. " Was it a commentary on their relationship? A nickname? The title of a favorite book? None of those, it turns out. Today that inked missive is part of the new Independence Seaport Museum exhibit that tells troops' stories through the graffiti they left on canvas racks aboard the USNS General Nelson M. Walker.
NEWS
October 1, 2014 | By Jeff Gammage, Inquirer Staff Writer
Despite a decade of periodic searches, including inquiries by a Philadelphia detective, no one has located Little Ty. He was a soldier sent from Philadelphia to Vietnam in 1967, with the war in full fight and casualties mounting. All that remains - all that can be found - is the message he scrawled on the bunk of the troop ship that carried him to war. And the voices of men who shared the dread and boredom of similar voyages. "You're semi-relaxed because you're not in the war yet," said Army veteran George Stankovich, 67, of Matawan, N.J., "but you're nervous because you know you're going to be there.
NEWS
September 23, 2014 | By Frank Fitzpatrick, Inquirer Staff Writer
Just 17, with a slight frame, baby face, and the nickname "Buzzy," David Fine seemed like a misplaced high schooler when he arrived at the University of Wisconsin in the fall of 1969. But the Wilmington native was hardly an innocent. By the time he reached turbulent Madison, Fine already had attracted considerable attention from the FBI. At Wilmington Friends School, he had been a student organizer, participated in civil rights and antiwar protests, and worked with the radical Students for a Democratic Society.
NEWS
September 19, 2014 | By Edward Colimore, Inquirer Staff Writer
On the signal bridge of the USS Frank E. Evans, Steve Kraus was scanning the ocean about 3 a.m. as the destroyer made a long, sweeping starboard turn through the darkness. The watch was uneventful until - seemingly out of nowhere - the Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne came barreling toward the Evans at 22 knots. Kraus hurried into the ship's signal shack and got on the intercom to warn the pilot house below: "We're going to get hit!" Then came a mighty crash, and the screeching and shrieking of metal.
NEWS
June 2, 2014 | By Bonnie L. Cook, Inquirer Staff Writer
Dr. Joseph F. Altomonte, 80, of Exton, a longtime physician in the Norristown area known affectionately as "Dr. A," died Tuesday, May 27, of lung cancer at his home. Dr. Altomonte practiced family medicine starting in 1970 from Sacred Heart and Montgomery Hospitals. Beginning in the late 1990s, he was affiliated with Fornance Medical Associates and then Norriton Family Medicine, both in East Norriton Township. He never retired. Dr. Altomonte also served for 42 years ending last year as the doctor for St. Gabriel's Hall, a residential treatment center for male teenagers in Audubon.
NEWS
May 28, 2014 | BY VALERIE RUSS, Daily News Staff Writer russv@phillynews.com, 215-854-5987
MARY ROBERTS was packing a box - a care package of sardines, cookies, canned beans and Kool-Aid - to send to her brother in Vietnam when the knock came at the door. "My mother opened the door and just started screaming," Roberts, now 79, recalled yesterday during a Memorial Day tribute at Philadelphia's Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Her brother, Cpl. Lorrence T. Friday, was 25 when he was killed in Vietnam on April 7, 1968. "He had enlisted in the Army," Stellzene Roberts, 59, said of Friday, her uncle.
NEWS
May 28, 2014 | By Michael Vitez, Inquirer Staff Writer
Jason Adams, 39, held up his son, Jason, 2, Monday afternoon and rubbed the toddler's fingers across a name engraved in the charcoal-gray granite of the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial. "This is your Great-Uncle Carlos," father said to son. "He served his country. " Carlos Ashlock's name is one of 646 carved into that wall at Front and Spruce Streets and he was one of the fallen whose service and sacrifice were honored at a Memorial Day ceremony. The sergeant went missing after his unit was surrounded and attacked in Quang Tri on May 12, 1967.
NEWS
May 25, 2014 | By Kevin Riordan, Inquirer Columnist
Veda Showers, 84, often gets lost in time. But she finds herself on familiar ground when Debbie Ganci comes through the door. Both Showers and Ganci are military veterans and women of faith. Showers has congestive heart failure, diabetes, and pulmonary issues; Ganci is a pastoral counselor with Holy Redeemer Homecare and Hospice in Runnemede. They've been meeting biweekly for two years at Showers' Mullica Hill home. "Originally, Veda declined a visit. But when she heard I was military, that was my foot in the door," says Ganci, 55, a Presbyterian minister and mother of two. Ganci's specialty is helping veterans and their families cope with terminal illness - and prepare for its inevitable conclusion.
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