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Colonie Central High School News
unveiling of the war monument
soldier photos
unveil of the war monument

The Colonie Central High School Class of 1965 unveils a memorial monument as a tribute to three of their classmates who died 50 years ago in the Vietnam War. The monument sits at the high school's Hill of Heroes.

CCHS Class of 1965 Dedicates Memorial to Fallen Vietnam Classmates

The Colonie Central High School Class of 1965 joined the South Colonie community Saturday in honoring three fallen classmates who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The group dedicated a memorial monument at the high school’s Hill of Heroes to U.S. Marine Private 1st Class John J. Gulliver, 19, Army Specialist 4th Class Ralph J. Dipace, 20, and Army Specialist 4th Class Robert J. Winters, 22. The three men, all members of the same graduating class, died six months apart in 1967 - 50 years ago fighting in the Vietnam War.

Classmates raised $10,000 to erect the memorial, which was dedicated on Armed Force Day and as part of the Raiderfest 2017. One year ago at Raiderfest, the Hill of Heroes was unveiled. With $3,000 left to spare, the class donated that money to the Tri County Council of Vietnam Area Veterans to help other war veterans in the classmates’ names.

“Even 50 years later it isn’t easy, you just learn to tolerate the pain,” said guest speaker Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, a veteran himself. “Families and Class of 1955, this is your day.”

Joining McCoy and class leaders in the hour-long ceremony in front of the high school’s main entrance were active military and veterans, Colonie municipal and school officials, the high school Chamber Singers, and three CCHS seniors who will be joining the Marines and Air Force following graduation.

Board of Education member and veteran Brian Casey said the monument will serve as a constant reminder to “our young people” that “freedom does not come free.”

“Today, we the Colonie community honor these three men at a lasting place, our Hill of Heroes,” Casey said. “May they never be forgotten.”

Following speeches, which included a history of the three soldiers from a fellow classmate, the stone on the hill was uncovered as two CCHS students played “Taps” on their trumpets. A group of classmates, who had come to the ceremony to pay their respects, stood atop the hill behind the monument.

The families of the soldiers were then presented U.S. flags, each folded in a glass case. All three flags had flown above war ships stationed in Hawaii last Veterans Day, 2016.

In addition to honoring the Vietnam classmates, the group dedicated a third piece to the Hill of Heroes – a monument saluting military prisoners of war and those missing in action, POW-MIA.

The Hill of Heroes showcases emblems and creeds on granite slabs representing all five branches of the military. Now a year old, the hill is serves as a permanent, symbolic gesture of South Colonie’s respect and acknowledgement of the sacrifices made by the men and women of the Armed Forces.