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Lowell Week in Review: November 18, 2018

Digging into election results

Last week I reported the statewide/district wide results for all races on the Lowell ballot for the November 6, 2018 state election including the total vote each candidate received in Lowell. Since then, I have obtained the precinct-by-precinct vote in all races. Rather than list all of the precinct results here – there are 33 of them for each race – I’ll look at how the two top offices on the ballot, US Senator and Governor, did across the city.

Looking first at the Elizabeth Warren v Geoff Diehl Senate race, Warren won Lowell with 16,516 votes (67.6%) to Diehl’s 7,909 (32.4%). Percentage-wise, Warren’s best precinct was Ward 2, Precinct 2 (2-2) where she received 87.5% of the vote. 2-2 is downtown and the Acre, stretching from North Common to the Tsongas Arena. This was followed by 2-1 with 87.3%. This precinct includes Lawrence Mills up to University Crossing. Warren’s third best precinct was 2-3 which is the rest of downtown including the condos on Market and Middle Streets. Warren received 84.8% of the vote there.

Warren’s worst precinct was 1-2 where she got 52.4%. This precinct is in Belvidere and includes Cawley Stadium and Long Meadow Golf Club. Warren’s second-worst precinct was 11-2 where she got 55.9%. This precinct is on the Belvidere/South Lowell border and includes the Bunting Club and the Knickerbocker Club. Warren’s third-worst precinct was 5-3 where she received 58.0%. This precinct is partly in Centralville and partly in East Pawtucketville and runs along the Lowell/Dracut border.

There are 33 precincts in all. Warren received 80% or more of the vote in 5 of them; 70-79% in 12; 60-69% in 9; and 50-59% in 7.

Diehl’s strong points would be where Warren was the weakest. His best precinct was 1-2 with 47.6%; next was 11-2 with 44.1%; and third best was 5-3 with 42.0%.

Despite Diehl’s relative strength, Warren prevailed in all 33 precincts.

In the Governor’s race, Charlie Baker won Lowell with 16,349 votes (65.2%) to Jay Gonzalez’s 8,723 (34.8%).

Baker’s best precinct was 1-2 where he received 76.4% of the vote. Next best was 1-3 with 75.2% and 5-3 with 74.7%. Baker did best in two of the precincts where Elizabeth Warren did worst, 1-2 and 5-3. The second best precinct for Baker was 1-3 which is in Belvidere, closer to Nesmith Street.

Baker was weakest in Ward 2, receiving just 44.2% of the vote in 2-1; 47.4% of the vote in 2-3; and 49.8% of the vote in 2-2. These three precincts – all of Ward 2 – were the only precincts in Lowell won by Democratic nominee Jay Gonzalez.

Of the 33 precincts in Lowell, Baker received 70-79% of the vote in 7 of them; 60-69% of the vote in 15 of them; 50-59% of the vote in 8; and 40-49% of the vote in 3 (the three won by Gonzalez).

In the First Middlesex State Senate race, Ed Kennedy defeated John MacDonald, 17,542 votes (70.1%) to 7.488 votes (29.9%). Kennedy’s strongest precincts were the three in Ward 2. His weakest precincts were scattered around the city. He received “just” 60.0% of the vote in 8-3 (upper Highlands); 61.1% of the vote in 11-2 (Belvidere/South Lowell) and 61.2% in 6-1 (Pawtucketville, from West Meadow Road to Mammoth Road).

I put “just” in quotation marks because getting 60% of the vote is good in any competitive election. The fact is Kennedy won all 33 of the city’s precincts. He received 80-89% of the vote in 4 precincts; 70-79% in 16 precincts; and 60-69% of the vote in 13 precincts.

Lowell Democratic City Committee Holiday Social

For those going through political withdrawal now that the election is in our past, an opportunity to come back together and talk local, state and national politics arises on Sunday, December 2, 2018, when the Lowell Democratic City Committee holds its annual Holiday Social. This year it’s at the Blue Shamrock, 105 Market Street in Lowell, from 2pm to 4pm (that’s Sunday, December 2).

Changes in the Local Media Scene

Best wishes to Lowell Sun editor Jim Campanini on his upcoming retirement from the newspaper. As the story announcing his imminent departure points out, Campanini has led the paper through “one of the most turbulent periods in the newspaper industry . . .”

Between digital advertising strangling the once-lucrative revenue stream of print newspapers, the 24-hour cycle of TV and the internet, and social media making everyone a journalist, it has indeed been a disruptive time for the mainstream media A big question is how does this all end for local media? Is professional journalism on the local level sustainable financially?

Although its focus is statewide, CommonWealth magazine uses a grant and reader donation model of financing. If you’re not familiar with CommonWealth, you should check it out, especially since it often writes stories about Lowell For instance, at the end of this summer, CommonWealth published an article about Lowell state representative Rady Mom’s re-election campaign (International issues play key role in Lowell rep’s race). Last year, CommonWealth wrote two articles on the fight over where to locate Lowell High School (Lowell’s single-issue election and Why Lowell is torn over new high school) and another about the lawsuit now pending in the US District Court that alleges the city is violating the Federal voting rights act (Lawsuit challenges Lowell at-large voting). In 2016, another article raised questions about the same at-large voting system that is being challenged in the US District Court case (Why whites control Lowell city government).

Previously, CommonWealth published a print magazine four times each year. However, this past summer, it switched to an all-digital operation. There’s much about Massachusetts policy and politics on the organization’s website including opportunities to sign up for daily and weekly electronic newsletters, and to download The Codcast (a Massachusetts-centric podcast). There’s also an opportunity to donate to CommonWealth which is worth doing, since all of its journalistic products are free.

If the future of local journalism is a topic of interest to you – as it should be – mark Tuesday, March 26, 2019 on your calendar. That evening at 7 pm at Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center, media critic Dan Kennedy will do a book talk/book signing of “The Return of the Moguls,” his 2018 book about how Jeff Bezos, John Henry and other millionaires and billionaires are remaking newspapers for the future.

City of Lights: November 24, 2018

Because November 1 fell on a Thursday this year, Thanksgiving comes on the earliest possible date – November 22. That also means that the City of Lights parade and celebration come early too. They will be held on Saturday, November 24, 2018 with family activities from noon to 5 pm and the parade from Jackson Street to City Hall kicking off at 4:30 pm. The official illumination of the City Hall exterior lights will take place at 6 pm. For more info, check out the City of Lights webpage.

Lowell Open Space and Recreation Plan

At last week’s City Council meeting, representatives from DPD presented the Council with the draft 2019-2023 Open Space and Recreation Plan which is available for viewing on the city’s website. The public comment period lasts until November 30, 2018, so please read the plan and share your thoughts on it with DPD via an email link in the city website.

The plans is built around the following six goals:

Goal 1: Improve pedestrian connections and experience throughout all neighborhoods to provide residents safer access to parks, open spaces and the opportunity to walk as a form of exercise or for leisure.

Goal 2: Improve cycling infrastructure across the city; prioritize non-vehicular modes of travel and recreational opportunities for residents.

Goal 3: Increase and improve the availability of water-based recreational opportunities for residents of Lowell.

Goal 4: Prioritize improved maintenance, security and preservation of parks and open spaces across the city and provide amenities residents have expressed an interest in seeing available to them.

Goal 5: Improve communication to the public regarding parks, open spaces, available amenities and events occurring showcasing these spaces across the community.

Goal 6: Increase recreational opportunities, improve existing parks and open spaces, and create new parks for the enjoyment of all residents of the community regardless of age, ability and neighborhood of residence.

Lowell Quarter Launch and Coin Exchange

Save the date: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 10am at Lowell Memorial Auditorium will be the official launch celebration of the new Lowell quarter. This new coin from the United States mint features a Lowell mill girl with the Boott Cotton Mill in the background. The US Mint is producing one quarter for each of the 50 states. The Lowell National Historical Park is the Massachusetts coin. That’s reason to celebrate.

Lowell City Council Meeting: November 13, 2018

ROLL CALL – all present

CITY CLERK

Minutes of City Council Meeting November 6th, for acceptance.

Vote-Cancel Council Meetings 11.27.18, 12.25.18 and 1.1.19 – meetings cancelled.

AUDITOR BUSINESS – Communication – FY19 Budget Report YTD (September). – Councilor Elliott asks several questions about certain items such as Workers’ Comp which are running over budget right now. City Solicitor says this account often runs a deficit because it is usually level funded while medical care costs and salaries have risen. She adds that there has been a significant increase in the number of injury claims made by School Dept personnel.

GENERAL PUBLIC HEARINGS

Ordinance-Create New Position and Salary of Syringe Collection Program Coordinator at Health and Human Services Dept. Director of Health and Human Services Department speaks in favor of the motion. Fire Chief Jeff Windward speaks in favor of this. There’s a great risk to all residents but especially to public safety employees and other city employees. City Manager explains that Trinity will respond to needle discoveries on nights and weekends. This person will do it during the week, but will also work proactively to provide education, to go to places where there are heavy concentrations of needles.

COMMUNICATIONS FROM CITY MANAGER

Motion Responses

A) Restorative Justice Program – presentation at subcommittee meeting next Tuesday.

B) LFD and LPD Responses to Marijuana Facilities – Councilor Elliott asks about a public meeting on Westford Street that’s already been scheduled. Manager Donoghue says state regulations require a potential applicant to organize and host a community meeting that is separate from any negotiations with city government. It’s two separate things. As for existing marijuana facilities, neither the fire department nor the police department have had any problems with them.

C) LTLC Shelter Issues – Discussion about finding a place for shelter residents to go during the day, something like the equivalent of the Senior Center, The Boys and Girls Club, or UTEC. The homeless can only sleep inside the shelter; they can’t stay there during the day. Councilor Mercier suggests something like a “recovery café” that might provide fitness program, computer education, etc.

D) National Grid Gas Updates – City Mangere is meeting with National Grid representatives. Will inquire about the ongoing safety of Lowell gas installations. Because National Grid is now under investigation, they have declined to participate in any public meetings but they are meeting with the manager and others.

E) Railway Issues – Pan Am railways has been unresponsive to communications from the city. The railroad takes the position that federal law insulates it from the city’s jurisdiction over these types of matters. Manager Donoghue says the city is working with the MBTA on this too, which may provide a useful avenue for addressing this. Manager concedes that the city doesn’t have much leverage over the railroad.

Open Space Plan – Presentation by Christine McCall and Yovanni Baez of Planning Department. They hosted several public meetings, conducted surveys, attended numerous neighborhood meetings. Came up with 10 main themes the public desired (like more and better sidewalks). From that, they identified six objectives such as “improve pedestrian connections and experience.”

Communication-Appoint and Reappoint members to the Hunger Homeless Commission – approved

VOTES FROM THE CITY MANAGER

Vote-Accept and Expend Municipal Energy Technical Assistance Grant from DOER for up to $12,500.00 – authorized.

Vote-Authorize City Manager Ex. License Agreement (overhanging sign) 18 Hurd St.-Salem Five Cents Savings Bank – authorized.

Vote-Authorize Mgr. Ex. MOU Local 1705A 7.1.18-6.30.21 – authorized.

ORDERS FROM THE CITY MANAGER

[This item was moved to the top of the agenda]. Order-60 Day Trial (Perry Street). Resident of 80 Rogers St speaks saying that the one way trial on Perry Street worked well but is disappointed the city now wants to discontinue that and make no parking on one side of Perry St. Another resident says that the one way street is not working. She says they should return the street to two way travel and prohibit parking on one side. Both speakers say that the condominiums at the corner of Perry and Rogers Street have inadequate parking. The zoning board required the developer to provide three spaces per unit but the developer only provided two per unit. This is what is causing the problem. Another resident who lives on Perry Street says warns that once it snows it will be even worse. She wants it put back to the way it was. Says everyone else is being penalized because the condo developer didn’t comply with the order of the zoning board and the city failed to enforce the order of the zoning board. City traffic engineer says it’s just a bad situation. It’s dangerous and will get worse after snow falls. The condo plans submitted did call for 3 spaces per unit but that might not be what happened. She said you shouldn’t leave it the way it is. Should either eliminate parking on one side and leave it two way or leave parking on both sides and leave it as one way. Councilor Mercier argues for Perry St to be one way for its entire length. Traffic engineer says everyone she has heard from would prefer it to be two way. Councilor Mercier says everyone she has heard from wants it one way. City Manager explains that when condos were approved, the expectation was that condo residents would not need any on-street parking since developer was expected to provide sufficient off-street parking. That didn’t happen. Condo residents must park on the street. There is great demand for on-street parking. City Manager recommends terminating the 60-day one way trial, refer it back to the Traffic Engineer for further study and a recommendation. Councilor Elliott asks if there is a way to enforce the order regarding condo parking. City Manager says that’s what people are saying but she’s not sure if that’s what made it into the final planning board order. Council terminates 60 day trial and refers to Traffic Engineer.

REPORTS (SUB/COMMITTEE, IF ANY)

Zoning SC November 13, 2018. Report from Subcommittee Chair Jim Milinazzo. This is the third meeting about amendments to rental property ordinance. Says more than 100 people attended. The proposed ordinance is “still a work in progress.”

PETITIONS

Claims – (2) Property Damage.

Misc. – Jorge Gomez request installation of handicap parking sign at 427 Lakeview Avenue.

Misc. – Luz Vallanilla request installation of handicap parking sign at 95 Lunberg Street.

Misc. – Mildred Kercher request installation of handicap parking sign at 58 Fay Street #1.

Misc. – Vimalkumar Patel (Pacific Liquors) request installation of (1) “15 Minute” parking sign at 421 Central Street and (1) “15 Minute” parking sign around corner on Charles Street.

Misc. – Kim Hyder request permission to address Council regarding signage and safety concerns in the area of 219 Jackson Street.

CITY COUNCIL – MOTIONS

Leahy – Req. City Mgr. provide a report from Elections Department regarding updating all voter equipment. No discussion

Leahy – Req. City Mgr. provide a report regarding review of the physical locations of City Hall Departments to ensure efficient operations. No discussion

Leahy – Req. City Mgr. provide a report regarding evaluation and review of existing City Hall departments to ensure efficient operations. No discussion

Samaras – Req. City Mgr. provide a report regarding steps that can be taken to increase the availability of parking in the Hamilton Canal District prior to the building of the new garage. Mayor explains that the courthouse is to open next year so he’s concerned about the plan for parking there, but he’s also concerned about current parking availability (or unavailability). He says he doesn’t have an answer but wants to the city planners to start looking at it. Manager Donoghue says this is a big issue and she will have a report on it soon.

CITY COUNCIL – EXECUTIVE SESSION

Executive Session – Regarding matter of litigation, namely Huot et al v. City of Lowell, public discussion of any of these matters would have a detrimental effect on the City’s position. Council goes into Executive Session. Will adjourn from Executive Session.

Lowell City Council Preview: November 13, 2018

Mimi Parseghian previews tomorrow night’s Lowell City Council meeting:

Back to business now that the election season is over.  The Lowell City Council agenda for this week once again has an item regarding the lawsuit against the City to establish neighborhood representation to select the City Council instead of the current at-large system.

“Executive Session – regarding matter of litigation, namely Huot et al v. City of Lowell, public discussion of any of these matters would have a detrimental effect on the City’s position.”

MOTION RESPONSES

Restorative Justice Program: Motion (10/16/18) by Councilor V. Nuon ‘Requests City Manager invite Justice Jay Blitzman of the Juvenile Court to the Public Safety Sub-Committee to provide an overview of the ‘Restoring Justice Program’.”

City Manager E. Donoghue responded that “District Attorney Marian Ryan and Judge Blitzman will be attending the public safety subcommittee meeting on November 20th, 2018 to discuss the Restorative Justice Program. Please contact me with any questions.”

LFD and LPD Responses to Marijuana Facilities: Motion (10/16/18) by Councilor V. Nuon “Requests City Manager have Lowell Police Department (LPD) and Lowell Fire Department (LFD) provide a report regarding officer time spent responding to any incidents at existing medical marijuana cultivation or retail facilities.”

In his response to the motion Kelly Richardson, Superintendent of Police, wrote “A review of records for the past year indicates that the Lowell Police Department responded to the medical marijuana retail facility at 70 Industrial Ave. five times. Four of these calls were for medical events and one for a false alarm. The Lowell Fire Department did not respond to any calls at this location.

“A further review of records for the past year for the medical marijuana cultivation facility located at 170 Lincoln St. indicated that the Lowell Police Department responded only one time for a suspicious motor vehicle. The Lowell Fire Department responded on two occasions for an activated carbon monoxide detector which was determined to be a false activation.”

Lowell Transitional Living Center (LTLC) Shelter Issues: Motion (8/14/18) by Councilor J. Milinazzo “Request City Manager meet with the Director of Middlesex Shelter and neighborhood representatives to discuss illegal activities taking place outside and adjacent to the shelter.”

Kelly Richardson, Superintendent of Police, replied and wrote that the Lowell Police Department conducted a series of meetings with officials of the LTLC “to continue our discussions with the LTLC relative to the ongoing issues and complaints the city and the LPD have received from neighbors and business owners relative to noise, loitering and other illegal activities.”

It was agreed that LTLC “staff checking the neighborhood for LTLC clients that were not following rules of LTLC and/or bothering neighborhood business and residents. Failure to adhere to these policies could result in loss of services for the clients.”  Also, the LPD the LTLC “staff members will conduct a ‘count’ on the ‘Homeless Camps’.”

National Grid Issues: Motion (10/2/18) by Councilor J. Leahy “Request City Manager work with National Grid to develop a presentation to the City Council on the steps and procedures that are taken by National Grid and the City to ensure safety for residents of Lowell.”

Christine Clancy, P.E., City Engineer , provided the Administration’s response and she wrote “The City of Lowell reached out to National Grid requesting a presentation addressing the above motion. National Grid declined the invitation; however, National Grid has indicated that they are working closely with the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to ensure that their safety procedures and protocols are being followed. National Grid has also been meeting with the Engineering Department on a regular basis to discuss the ongoing work throughout the City.”

Railway Issues: Motion (11/8/18) by Councilor K. Cirillo “Request City Manager contact the MBTA regarding a timeline of when they will be clearing the debris that was left by the homeless camp located near the railroad tracks, behind 50 Waugh Street.”

Motion (8/14/18) by Councilor J. Leahy “Request City Manager investigate the reasons for idling trains in the Lawrence Street area.

City Manager Eileen Donoghue informed the City Council that the Administration contacted both the MBTA and Pan Am.  They were informed that the track area belongs to Pan Am.  Unfortunately, Pan Am has not been cooperative. “We have reached out to Cynthia Scarano, Executive VP of Pan AM multiple times to address the issue of homeless camps as well as the idling trains near Lawrence St. She has failed to respond to our repeated requests for a meeting.”

The issue with Pan Am Railways has been an on-going issue with the city going back quite a few years.

MOTIONS

Councilor J. Leahy Request City Manager provide a report from Elections Department regarding updating all voter equipment.

Councilor J. Leahy Request City Manager provide a report regarding evaluation and review of existing City Hall Departments To Ensure Efficient Operations.

Mayor Samaras Councilor J. Leahy Request City Manager provide a report regarding steps that can be taken to increase the availability of parking in the Hamilton Canal District prior to the building of the new garage.

“Spirit in the Sky” by Bob Hodge

Bob Hodge grew up in Lowell and went on to graduate from Lowell High (1973) and University of Lowell (1990). He was (and still is) one the greatest runners to come out of this region. He’s also a writer, having previously shared stories with us about his experiences with road races and as a student at LHS.

Today, in recognition of Veterans Day, Bob shares a story about his older brother Billy, who was killed in action in Vietnam while serving as a platoon sergeant with Company B, 1/16 Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Staff Sergeant Hodge is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery. The intersection of Carlisle and Gorham Streets, across from Edson Cemetery, is named William Hodge Square in his honor.  

Here is Bob’s story about his brother:

Classic car drove past me today as I rode my bike to work on a lovely fall day and a classic song from 1970 wafted from the sound system a song that always pulls me back to Acre Lowell MA when I was 13 years old and my 22 year older brother Billy was killed in Vietnam.

I have been hesitant to write about his death because my memories are made up of just so many disparate moments and hardly make a narrative but after hearing that song on such a day as this – that song that is so haunting – I decided to try.

I remember when I was very young living on Sawtelle Place in Lowell and I don’t recall if I witnessed it but a legendary story on our block was how Billy made another kid eat a worm.

And later when we moved to Butterfield Street near the North Common and Billy who was always active in sports coached the Acre Youth Organization “Pony League” Tigers baseball team and my brother Mike, and Cousin John played on the team and I was the batboy.

I don’t remember Billy playing high school sports which is odd but perhaps he did. I do remember he had a job at a gas station at the corner of Fletcher and Suffolk Streets, across the street from the Three Copper Men barroom.

I remember one time in the winter I trudged through deep snow down the cobblestone road to bring Billy his lunch. The owner or manager of the station was a Lowell character named Louie who one time staged a robbery of his own business.

The details of this are sketchy to me now or perhaps I never knew exactly what went down. I was around age 11 or 12 then and almost nothing made sense to me in a concrete way. My mind wandered and sometimes I was Daniel Boone parlaying with the injuns or an astronaut blasting off into space.

Billy, brother Mike and I shared the same bedroom and Mike and I slept in the same bed. Billy slept on a fold up cot which we stuck in a corner in the morning so we could move around the room. Billy had a sense of adventure and attended the Montreal World’s Fair, called Expo 67, and I remember some of the mementos he brought back. I have a vague memory of him attending the Woodstock Music Festival.

In our apartment on 8 Butterfield we had an Expo 67 piggy bank that was filled with just pennies. I rarely thought about the bank until one day when I spotted at the corner store a Sports Illustrated magazine with Steve Prefontaine, the then freshman running phenom from the University of Oregon on the cover. I just had to have that magazine so I ran home up the three flights of stairs to our room, grabbed the piggy bank and shook out its contents. But there was nothing inside but IOU’s from my brothers.

Billy went to college I believe in Boston, possibly at Wentworth or maybe it was Bentley, but in the summer of 1968 he and a classmate from Lowell named Peter Hantzis partnered up to run a restaurant for the summer at York Beach in Maine.

I spent time up there working in this place right on the beach also just a little way from a well-established dairy bar restaurant that was our main competition. Mostly I served ice cream cones at the front counter and bussed tables.

Bill and Nancy Hodge

Billy had a girl friend Nancy who was from Fitchburg. She was just as beautiful and warm a person as you would ever wish to meet. One weekend when my entire family was present, we all sat down together and Billy announced that they would marry.

Momentarily stunned, no one said a word until I broke the silence to say congratulations and everyone laughed. Billy was 21 years old. Had he lived, he and Nancy would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past September.

Billy was killed in Action February 28th 1970.*

Coincidently, my bride Frannie (God Bless Her) was at York Beach with her family that same summer, 17 years before we married.

After Billy and Nancy were married they lived on School Street for a time down on the Pawtucket Street side – that is until he enlisted in the Army.

While Billy was away in the service, I entered Lowell High School in the fall of 1969 and became a runner on the cross country team, something I shared in a letter to Billy who used to challenge me to races on the North Common. He would always give me a head start and then run me down.

I remember one night my Dad answered the phone. I had just gone to bed and before my dad even spoke I knew the call was about Billy and that he was dead.

I am aware that the military never make calls like that and I also remember them coming to our house so I don’t know who might have called but I do remember my Dad’s heavy sighs after he hung up.

Billy’s wake was at Meehan & Kirwin on Pawtucket Street, the same funeral home my mother was waked at in 1966 when I was 10. My friend, Dennis Kirwin, lived there and I remember hanging out with him for a bit.

It was winter. The wake and funeral were a blur of relatives and friends. I recall that some close family members and a fellow soldier who served with Billy went out to Skip’s restaurant after the wake. I was tired and confused by the talk of the adults. I didn’t understand what was going on with the war only that if you didn’t go you might have to flee to Canada to avoid jail.

These few memories that I have aren’t much to hold onto. After Billy’s death, we all just carried on and I never really felt the weight of it unless I heard that song so ubiquitous in February of 1970. It was in regular rotation on the radio and hit number three on the charts.

Fortunately (or regrettably) I haven’t heard “Spirit in the Sky” much since until today on a country road nearly 50 years later. It’s interesting how a song becomes part of your soundtrack and triggers memories.

 

Spirit in the Sky

By Norman Greenbaum

When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best

Prepare yourself you know it’s a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that when you die
He’s gonna recommend you
To the spirit in the sky
Gonna recommend you
To the spirit in the sky
That’s where you’re gonna go when you die
When you die and they lay you to rest
You’re gonna go to the place that’s the best

******************

* Below are some of the comments left on SSGT William Hodge’s page on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Fund virtual wall:

A Hero

Posted on 1/26/15 – by Paul R. Cox ehvc.pc@hotmail.com

I was with Bill the day he was killed. He had joined our patrol the night before coming via “chopper” along with supplies. I distinctly remember his upbeat spirit which was welcome as we had been out for more than several days. The next morning Bill continued to be exuberant in his attitude and leadership. I was scheduled to walk point that day, however Bill told me he wanted to do this,moving me to the position of rear security. It was not common practice for a Platoon Ssg.to walk point.
It was mid morning when we encountered a burst of enemy fire. Bill was hit.
He is remembered for his courage,zestful energy and wanting to make a difference. On this day he was undaunted.

Co B1/16

Posted on 11/13/13 – by MSG George Reymann

I served as company clerk at the time Sgt Hodge was killed. Met when he was assigned to company. Killed by sniper on the last day the unit was in the field. When we heard on company radio freq, several of us drove to Evac Hosp to see him, however were told he didn’t make it. To my knowledge there were no other Co B casualties that day. Army records also confirm Sgt Hodge was last Co B 1/16 soldier KIA.

The following is from the website of the 1/16 Infantry Association:

1st Battalion in Vietnam

The 1st Battalion 16th Infantry arrived at Vung Tau, Viet Nam on 10 October 1965 with the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division on the USNS Mann. The 1st Rangers were initially stationed at Bien Hoa Air Base. Operation BUSHMASTER I was the first major operation that the battalion was involved in. Its mission was to clear a zone along Highway 13 between Lai Khe and Ben Cat in Phouc Vinh province. The unit also conducted numerous air assaults during BUSHMASTER and earned a reputation for flexibility, mobility, and aggressiveness. This was followed closely by BUSH MASTER II and the battalion’s mission changed to “search and destroy.” Operations centered around the Michelin Rubber Plantation, an area with which the battalion would become intimately familiar over the next four years.

In the first two months of operations, the battalion had killed or captured over 1,600 NVA or VC soldiers. In January 1967, the 1st Battalion participated in Operation CEDAR FALLS. This operation was a joint effort by the 1st and 25th Infantry Divisions, the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 11th ACR to imposed severe casualties on VC units in Military Region 4, the “Iron Triangle.” This was followed by Operations TUCSON in February, BILLINGS in June, and SHENANDOAH in October.

The year 1968 was also an eventful one for the 1st Battalion. It accounted for over 300 enemy KIA or captured and thousands of weapons and several tons of equipment and food destroyed or captured. Additionally in October 1968, the battalion was reorganized as mechanized infantry and at that time adopted its current nickname, “Iron Rangers.”

In 1969, the “Iron Rangers” were involved the Vietnamization process, yet combat in and around areas like the Iron Triangle, Michelin Rubber Plantation, the Catcher’s Mitt, Ben Cat and Lai Khe, and participation in Operations BEAR TRAP, FRIENDSHIP, KENTUCKY COUGAR, IRON DANGER, and TOAN THANG IV accounted for an additional 426 enemy soldiers killed or captured. Ambush patrols and the sealing off of villages characterized operations during the year. The last four months in Viet Nam saw the battalion working closely with its ARVN counterparts as it concurrently prepared to redeploy to Fort Riley. Combat activity did not abate, however, as the “Iron Rangers” conducted 690 ambush patrols in January, and 803 in February. March 3, 1970 saw the cessation of combat activities in the Republic of Viet Nam for the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry. The battalion stood down and headed for its new assignment in Germany.

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