Shoreham Village Recognizes Veterans from Civil War to Now

Shoreham Village Recognizes Veterans from Civil War to Now

The landmass of the Village of Shoreham is only .5 square miles made up of just over 530 residents, barely a dot on the map. Yet despite its small size the history of its past and current residents’ service and sacrifice were on full display Nov. 10. The day before Veterans Day, members of the Shoreham Village Association presented a new plaque representing 177 veterans who lived in or were involved with the small village on the shore.

In 2013, village residents joined together in a committee to do something to remember the names of these vets. During the village’s centennial celebration in 2013, Mimi Oberdorf, village historian, uncovered an older plaque naming World War II veterans. She approached Tom Spier, a local attorney and supporter of veterans, about getting the plaque restored, but that project quickly morphed into an attempt to include veterans of all wars since the nation’s founding. 

“For a project like this you have to be very determined, and Tom is very determined,” she said. 

“For a project like this you have to be very determined, and Tom is very determined.”

– Mimi Oberdorf

The committee included village residents Spier, Oberdorf, Lee Frei and Joe Falco. In truth, the project had also been attempted in 1995 by decorated World War II veteran and village resident Jerry Rich, though unfortunately the veteran became ill and the project had been put on hiatus.

From 2013 until now, Spier sent out letters to village residents asking them to name family and friends from any U.S. war that could go on the plaque. By 2019, the group finally settled on presenting the names on Veterans Day. 

“It’s been well appreciated by veterans and their families,” Spier said. “I learned a lot about guys whose names I heard of, but I knew nothing about.”

Spier had made the project a particular passion of his. Sitting down to look at the list of names, he had a story for what seemed like every other name. 

Ernest “Bud” Siegel, a Suffolk County police inspector and village resident, Spier said, was the lead man out of the aircraft as he led the airborne invasion into southern France with the 509th PIG. He was a recipient of three Purple Hearts who had gone Missing in Action twice during his stint. Hubert “Bill” Davis, a P51 pilot, shot down one of the first German fighter jets in World War II. 

“The list goes on,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of history, you just need to know where to look.  

The names go back to the Civil War, through World War II, where over 90 men connected to or living in Shoreham village served, up through Vietnam and including the Global War on Terror.

Veterans and community members packed the village hall the night before Veterans Day. Men of different eras and different wars mingled during the unveiling. Victor Tastrom Jr., a Vietnam War Marine veteran, swapped stories with Ryan Long, another Marine vet who served in Iraq from 2004 to 2008. It was the first time they had met, and now both their names are on the plaque in Village Hall. 

During the presentation, several women came to the podium to read letters village residents sent to their friends and family members overseas during World War II. The unveiling included small bits of history such as the small local newspaper called the Shoreham Item, which was run by two young men, Ed Barnhart and Wesley Sherman Jr., who later went off to fight in World War II. The paper was continued by the boys’ fathers, Al Barnhart and Wesley Sr., and the paper was sent to Shoreham boys as they were fighting overseas.

The plaque has empty pieces, and committee members said they will continue to accept names into the future.

 

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