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Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

From life in a small New Hampshire town to death on a foreign battlefield

By Vaseline May27,2024

Delano was killed in Vietnam, the only camp alumnus killed during that war, as far as Noseworthy knew. Noseworthy, 48, feels compelled to unearth such stories, of those who visited the camp, forged memories and friendships, but then gave their lives in service to their country. He said even mundane details of those lives should not be forgotten, and he hopes they will make future generations reflect on the meaning of their sacrifice.

So Noseworthy started digging. He has no formal training in history, but approached the project with zeal, turning his living room table into a research desk, loaded with documents and photographs he collected. He searched the camp records and retrieved Delano’s military records from the National Archives, unlocking a wealth of information.

Noseworthy’s biography of Tim Delano is the story of a small-town New England boy who left the comforts of home, served honorably, and died far from home at the age of 21.

On May 23, 1947, Darwin Delano was born in Brattleboro, Virginia, and after his parents drove him across the Connecticut River to the family home in Hinsdale, his grandfather took one look at him and decided he didn’t like the name Darwin. . From then on he was known as Tim.

Tim’s father was a World War II veteran who served as city treasurer and in the state legislature; Tim grew up with a strong sense of community service. Tim’s father went to Camp Takodah in the 1930s and it was inevitable that Tim, the eldest of six siblings, would too.

Hinsdale, Noseworthy discovered, was a typical small New England mill town when Tim was growing up in the 1950s: it had 1,700 people and 226 cows; there were four paper mills, two machine shops, two car dealerships, a drugstore, a funeral home, a hardware store, a furniture store, three restaurants, two general stores and two supermarkets.

A young Tim Delano at summer camp. YMCA Camp Takodah

Tim was an honors student at Hinsdale Elementary & Middle School, had a paper route and belonged to Boy Scout Troop 307. He was 11 when he first went to Camp Takodah in 1958, and would return the next two summers.

Tim was a good student and a solid athlete at Hinsdale High and a standout on the ski team. He met a girl named Cindy Gomarlo from nearby Winchester at a dance. They became inseparable.

He studied business at Burdett College in Boston, shared an apartment with Cindy’s brother, and to make ends meet worked in the kitchen of a Somerville bar frequented by Winter Hill gangsters. In May 1967, when he came home from college, he and Cindy became engaged.

That summer, Tim got his lottery number: 181. Instead of waiting to be drafted, he enlisted in the Army. In September 1967 he received basic training in Georgia. Two days before Christmas 1967, while Tim was home on leave, he and Cindy married. They moved to military housing in Virginia.

In March 1968, while he was on leave, Tim and Cindy returned to Hinsdale for a large family dinner. It turned out to be the last time Tim saw his family. A month later he was part of the 589th Engineer Battalion, stationed in South Vietnam.

He worked 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week, with a half day off every Sunday, Noseworthy discovered.

“It was tough,” Noseworthy wrote. “It was dangerous. It was exhausting.”

Noseworthy found a book written by Al Carlisle, an army photographer, who served alongside Tim. Carlisle described how they became friends after Tim invited him to a card game Tim regularly hosted in his tent. When Carlisle pulled out his wallet, Tim told him they had to wait until payday to play poker, so they settled for a no-stakes game of pinochle.

In October 1968, Tim was given five days’ leave and met Cindy in Hawaii for what he described, in a letter home Noseworthy received from Tim’s family, as some of the happiest days of his life.

“Maybe one day,” Tim wrote, “we can go back and enjoy it again.”

Tim Delano, in Vietnam.Delano family

Then, on November 26, 1968, two days before Thanksgiving, Tim and Al Carlisle took off on a routine reconnaissance mission with Lieutenant Ronald Moe. Al had his camera, Tim drove the jeep and Moe told them where to go and what to do.

Just outside Phan Rang they checked a bridge, according to Carlisle’s book. The photographer said Tim told him about Hawaii and talked about starting a family with Cindy when he got home in three months.

Moe suggested they stop for food and warned Tim and Carlisle to be alert as they were in an area where there was Viet Cong activity.

Hearing that, Carlisle thought to himself, “What the hell are we doing here alone?”

Moe’s warning proved tragically prescient. After dinner they were driving back to base when, as Carlisle wrote: ‘The silence is broken by a sudden and loud bang as if a firework had gone off next to my head. Everything goes in slow motion and at the same time the front of the Jeep bursts into flames. Tim’s head jerks back and he cries out with his hands in front of his face, “Oh God!” “

They hit a landmine and drove into an ambush. As he came to his senses, Carlisle heard the staccato burst of automatic gunfire. Tim and Moe died almost immediately. Carlisle managed to crawl away and only later realized that the blood covering him was Tim’s. In the inferno that enveloped the Jeep, Tim and Moe’s bodies were burned beyond recognition. The calendar in Tim’s tent showed he had 118 days left before returning home.

Tim’s parents received a telegram informing them of his death the day after a large Thanksgiving dinner with the family. He was buried with full honors at Pine Grove Cemetery in Hinsdale.

His name appears on panel 38W, line 065 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC

His name will also appear in the Memorial Lodge at Camp Takodah.

Noseworthy felt compelled to tell Tim Delano’s story so that campers of the past will know, and that future generations will reflect on the sacrifices Tim and others made to serve their country.

“All these stories deserve to be told,” Noseworthy said.

“It is important that Tim is remembered,” said Tim’s brother, Bob. “It is important that everyone who gave their life for their country is remembered.”

Every Memorial Day, members of the Delano family visit Tim’s grave. And every year they discover that a member of the 589th Engineer Battalion has left flowers at Tim’s grave.

Had he been alive, Tim Delano would have turned 77 last Thursday. But he will always be 21, a son, brother, husband, soldier, who will be remembered forever.

Peter Tamas, a Vietnam veteran with B Company 589th Engineers, and Bernie Williams, a Vietnam veteran with A Company 589th Engineers, paid tribute to Tim Delano at the graveside.
Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Kevin Cullen is a Globe reporter and columnist who roams New England. He can be reached at [email protected].

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