Added to Honor Roll:
Ceremony puts spotlight on
Wall of Honor Program
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.
Fairfield, CT – He was proud to honor his brother but as committed to focusing attention on an important memorial program that he feels lacks visibility.
First Selectman Michael Tetreau officially recognized Tuesday morning the placement of his brother Lt. Col. William Tetreau’s name amongst those on the Fairfield War Memorial Honor Roll at the front lip of the grounds of Town Hall Green, 611 Old Post Road. The brothers were joined for the ceremony by their mom and dad, Fern and Rowena, brother Jack, the Lt. Colonel’s wife Cheryl, and long-time family friend Rita Bradtmuller. Also in attendance was RTM Minority Leader Cristin McCarthy Vahey and State Representative Kim Fawcett as well as representatives from the various local military veterans organizations.
While the Lt. Colonel thanked “town veterans and all the veterans on the wall” and was honored to be listed with them, his thoughts were also on his unit of 40 men back on base in Kabul, Afghanistan, from which he is on a two-week leave from active duty. “The base was attacked earlier today,” he said. “I haven’t heard reports of any casualties. It’s a great concern for me.”
Dressed in his fatigues, the Lt. Colonel explained that he’d been commissioned as a lieutenant in 1979. “I’ve been a reservist for the bulk of the time, though after 9/11, I was deployed several times – Iraq twice, Afghanistan for two years, central command in Tampa and at the Pentagon. I was promoted in 2001. I’m now on the main base in Afghanistan’s capital, where General Allen, the commander of all the forces in Afghanistan, is headquartered. My group supports military intelligence with supplies, construction projects and security for some buildings. An attack like this is rare.”
The officer said one of the most intense experiences in his time of service was in Iraq in 2004. “The base was rocketed and mortared,” he said. “It’s scary to have a big kaboom near you and more coming in. It’s hard to remove yourself from that danger.”
Prior to enlisting, Lt. Col. Tetreau had sold internet access to small and mid-sized businesses. He said there’s an obvious contrast between that work and his currently military involvement. “I could drive to work without worrying about I.E.D.s (improvised explosive devices). It’s the little things, and no one died,” he half-joked.
He said there’s a great feeling of camaraderie amongst his unit. “When something happens with your group, you go to help,” he remarked. “A rocket hit a trailer in Iraq. You go and check on everyone.”
The Lt. Colonel said he was glad to have his parents witness the morning ceremony and that he exchanges emails with his brother, the First Selectman, on a daily basis. “I send out a personal newsletter, with a little fun in it, every day to my family and friends. Like to say, ‘we’re out of vanilla ice cream!’”
Getting serious for a moment, as a cool breeze made the American flag flap at the peak of the Honor Wall flap, he said it’s important to remember the veterans from this town who have served. The First Selectman echoed that sentiment, suggesting that the Honor Wall is one of the great ways we can honor our veterans.
“I had discussed the Wall with Nancy Fray, on my staff, and asked her if you had to pass away to be honored. She said no and I started exploring it more,” First Selectman Tetreau said. “The town has done this since 1945 and the only requirement to apply to be included on the Wall is that you must be a resident of Fairfield when you enlist in the service. It’s a way for people to honor veterans.”
The First Selectman said the process for incorporation is a little detailed. “DD214 paperwork, which is a soldier’s permanent record in the military, is necessary. That gets reviewed to see if criteria is met. It has to be approved by the related veterans organization.”
First Selectman Tetreau added, “The town should know more about this. It’s how we show our respect for our men and women that have served in the military. There are more opportunities out there.”
If you have a family member that may qualify to be listed on the Honor Wall, contact Nancy Fray in the First Selectman’s office at 203-256-3030. Fray will then connect a caller to the appropriate veterans organization.