Memorial Day Memories


Editors' Note: Registered members of were asked for their memories of Memorial Day. Do you have any special Memorial Day traditions?
Is there anyone special you usually commemorate? Did you lose any friends or family members who served in the armed forces? Tell us about them.
Where and when did they serve? What follows are those cherished memories. 

William Jakabek Submitted by William Jakabek - Class of 71

Fortunately, even though my Grandfathers, my Father, my Uncles, and several Cousins & In-laws served during peacetime and during wars (WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq/Afghanistan), none perished. My family was blessed.

When I was young, my family celebrated Memorial Day pretty much the way all families did back then … Go to the parade in Hicksville and attend the Memorial held on the Hicksville Junior High School grounds to honor all the fallen men and women who died while serving. Afterward, my family had a BBQ (burgers and hotdogs) with family and sometimes with neighborhood friends. I marched in the Parade with CYO Baseball, Cub Scouts & Boy Scouts, and my Dad marched for a couple of years with the VFW Color Guard. My Dad served during WWII in Europe with the 701st Tank Battalion. His Sherman Tank got hit in Germany by a German 88mm on February 25, 1945. He was badly wounded but survived (obviously) and made a full recovery. He married my Mom on July 28, 1945, while still using crutches. My HERO! I can’t wait to fly our Flag this year!!!

Dorothy and William JakabekBill's Parents, Dorothy and William Jakabek

   Submitted by Christopher Composto, HHS Class of 1979

Memorial Day is important to remember our loved ones who served our country and have passed away.
Not only is it the “unofficial” start to the summer, but the Bethpage Jones Beach Airshow is a highlight and a tradition for my family.
My family was lucky enough not to have lost anyone during the wartime years, but my dad served in Korea in the 101 Airborne unit.

 Submitted by Ron Wencer, HHS Class of 1964

Growing up, I always thought that I "got" Memorial Day -- but it never really hit me until Hicksville's James Stolz died in Vietnam.

I never got to know him well, as we did not meet until 1965, in a college French literature class. Jim was friendly and confident; you got the idea he always knew what he was doing. When that semester was over, I changed majors and schools, and we didn't keep in touch. I now wish that I'd had the chance to know him better. While I was at Hicksville High, he attended Archbishop Molloy High School in Jamaica. Born less than a week apart, we both were Class of 1964 and four years later, we both tried to enlist. I qualified for Pilot training in the USAF but was disqualified from military service because of a minor hereditary skin condition. Jim was accepted into the USMC, and he became a helicopter pilot.

A week before Thanksgiving in 1970, I had just received the first pay raise of my career, and I was still a newlywed. Jim, about three months beyond Pilot training, was flying a "rescue /evac" mission to retrieve fellow Marines trapped at the base of the Khe Son mountains. His first two flights returned many of them to safety. By the time the third and final flight occurred, however, low cloud cover obscured the horizon, and both the men he was rescuing and his chopper were struck by enemy fire. Unable to see the passes between the mountains, he had to try to climb above them, but the damaged helicopter could not clear the mountainside. All those on board died. Since then, I have thought of Jim every Memorial Day and how we might have lived parallel lives, long or short. RIP, Lt. Stolz. These are copies of his yearbook photos from Molloy and St. John's University.

 For those interested, this is an account of his final mission:

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