City of Stamford Citizen of the Year 

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Ralph Del Veccihio

U.S. Army

Ralph is a Stamford born, Stamford educated veteran, having attended Stevens Elementary, Cloonan Junior High and Stamford High Schools, where he graduated in 1964. He then attended vocational school in Norwalk where, after a six-month masonry program, he graduated at the top of his class.

 

Ralph was just 18 years old and "on his way", with a car, a girlfriend and a nascent career in a trade he loved when in May of 1965 he was drafted into the United States Army. After reporting to Ft. Dix that December for basic training, he was shipped to Ft. Campbell in Kentucky for combat training in preparation for deployment in the jungles of Southeast Asia. In early 1966 he boarded a troop ship along with 4,000 other G.I.s and U.S. Marines, where he spent 30 days tossed in rough seas before his arrival in Vietnam. There he was stationed with the 573 Direct Support Outfit in Pleiku Province until at just 19 years of age, he was dispatched with 250 others near the DMZ where they served in a variety of support roles for other G.I.s and Marines, like guarding the perimeter of their fire base and going on patrols to locate North Vietnamese troops.

 

Near the end of Ralph's 13-month tour he was given what has proven to be the most impactful assignment of his military career, though it was just three days long. Ralph was assigned to escort 75 young souls who had made the ultimate sacrifice to the mortuary in Saigon, where he helped ready them for their final trip home.

 

After his return to the States, Ralph married that same girlfriend and they had two sons, first Ralph, Jr. and then Joseph, and he established a successful masonry business in Stamford. Together with his second wife, the former Phyllis Silvester, he is now the proud grandfather of ten.

 

In the years since, Ralph has been inspired to turn the anguish of those three days in Saigon into a mission, collecting funds for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund in New York. Started by the Fisher family, the organization assists our heroes and their families returning from the wars overseas.a

2018