This past Veterans’ Day, Suffield resident Fritz King, a retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant and a member of the Suffield VFW Post 9544, was amazed to learn that there are approximately 600 veterans in Suffield. Many interesting conversations with veterans took place that day and started the wheels spinning. Historical battles and political figures are all well documented, but where are the day-to-day personal stories?
It was then that he decided to document as many Suffield veterans’ stories as possible and compile them into a book to preserve their history. With the help of Melissa Mack and the Assessor’s Office, he was able to find and write to 56 Korean War veterans and 256 Viet Nam War veterans with limited response.
While stories from all veterans are important, stories from World War II and Korean War veterans who are now in their 80s and 90s are at the top of the list. As the veteran population age increases, interview opportunities decrease. One Korean War veteran died only days before his letter arrived and the family will be sharing the veteran’s diary. Fritz still needs to identify veterans from other wars and conflicts such as World War II, the Gulf War, and the War on Terror, just to mention a few. Your help is needed here.
So, who is Fritz King and why should you talk to him? Fritz, the Safety Inspector for the Holyoke Department of Public Works, was raised in Southwick and the girl next door is now his wife, Denise Roy King. Her family moved to Suffield years ago and they were reconnected years later and married. They moved wherever his 20-year military career demanded. When he retired in 2012, they moved back to Suffield. Denise currently manages Nordstrom’s café at Westfarms Mall. They have a son who has just completed four years in the Marines as a Machine Gunner and a daughter who is pursuing a Master’s degree as an athletic trainer. He is a history buff and wants to preserve your history. And, just in case you’re wondering, they are not related to the historic King family of Suffield.
Veterans’ stories are important and should be heard. Don’t let COVID-19 stop you. There are several options to accommodate you during this pandemic. Interviews can be conducted at your home or another place of your choosing, in person, wearing masks-social distancing, by telephone, or through online meetings.
If you are a veteran, know a veteran, or have information about a Suffield veteran, contact Fritz King at 573-528-4173 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. His goal is to identify as many veterans as possible and complete the interviews by December 31.
On behalf of The Suffield Observer, I’d like to thank all veterans for their service.