Outside Pursuits  

Harborside Editor Works To Make Sure
His Town's War Dead Aren't Forgotten

By Anthony Buccino  

(Editor's note: How do you help a small town remember its war dead? Not just the last war, but the one before that and the one before that ...all the way back to before the town had its current name. National copyreader Anthony Buccino decided there was a better way than forgotten plaques and nameless moments of silence. He's building a Web site dedicated to the men from his home town, Nutley, N.J., who died in the nation's wars. We asked him to write about his experience researching the Nutley sons who never came back.)  


At last year's Memorial Day ceremonies I scanned strange names rising from metal plaques on granite monuments and wondered, who were these men?  

How many paid full fare to prove "freedom is not free" as it says on one three-panel walk-in monument?  

In the century past, 127 who walked, played and worked on these same streets and lived in these same houses heeded their country's call and paid the ultimate price to preserve this quiet tree-lined community.  

But I needed to know more about these Nutley sons, brothers, uncles and fathers. These men were more than names on a piece of metal and I vowed to try to find out who each one was so that children of this century and beyond will know them.  

I gave my college-age daughter a summer job: print out all the library's microfilm on these fellows and I'll do my editing magic. In no time we'll know all there was to know about these Nutley sons.

But it turned out to be a much larger job than anticipated. This summer project has gone on for more than a year.  

My little town has about 16 monuments and memorials honoring nearly 200 fallen service men, plus a large u-shaped memorial to all Nutley sons who served in World War II.  

The gold stars numbered 88 on the World War II monument, but we found 91. In beginning to research who these fellows were and where they lived, we discovered that more than two dozen never had their stories written in the local paper.  

Seventeen Nutley sons were lost in World War I, and most had sizeable write-ups, but others had none. Nearly as many were killed in combat as were killed in training, accidents or by pneumonia.

One of the men killed by the flu turned out to be my second cousin Pasquale Di Francesco. I never knew he existed until I started this research. I did know his younger brother, my father's first cousin, who was given the same name Pasquale Francisco.  

In what has been called the Forgotten War, nine Nutley sons perished in Korea.  

The fuzzy microfilm printouts tell of Nutley parents on the street near mine awaiting word of their son missing in action for three years, from 1951 to 1954, before his being "presumed dead."  

Their son William Nolze was awarded the Silver Star when he distinguished himself by remaining in his forward post to establish a base of covering fire while his comrades fell back against 'a numerically superior enemy force.'  

Firing methodically into the enemy ranks, Nolze inflicted numerous casualties and held off the remaining enemy until the withdrawal had been completed. When he was last seen, he was engaging the enemy who had surrounded his position.  

News of one soldier's death came only days after his letter asking for cookies and candy to sweeten his Army rations.  

The Selective Service System's use of a young man's birthday to determine his eligibility resulted in a set of Nutley twins signing up to serve together in the same outfit.

All around them in their unit in Vietnam were guys from Nutley and other area towns who had just a year earlier been competing in sports. The twins were just miles apart when one was killed. The headline in the local paper said, "Nutley Soldier Killed in War Near Buddies."

While my grammar school buddies and I were acting out the re-winning of World War II, these big buddies were struggling for another day, another hill in a real war thousands of miles away.  

Recently I went to double-check some information from the monuments. When I came upon the memorial to the Korean War dead from my town, the names --  Bliss, DiNardo, Gorman, Miller, MacMillan, Nolze, Pucci, Smith and Van Der Linde -- popped out at me like a list of my baseball teammates.  

I had come to know these men as more than names on metal, I knew of their high school nicknames, their girlfriends and families, their training and trials and their loss. I felt like I knew these men, even though they had all died before I was born.  

Perhaps, through this Web site, others will some day feel the same way.
 

First published in Dow Jones in-house newsletter on August 28, 2002.

Nutley Sons Honor Roll


NUTLEY SONS HONOR ROLL by Anthony Buccino

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