Sunday, January 1, 2017



I remember growing up in Exeter and appreciating the simplicity, beauty and togetherness of the area; including Stratham.  Stratham was a beautiful rural farming community. 

Stratham is between Exeter (which was its closest shopping area and Portsmouth which was a bigger shopping area with more hustle and bustle.  In fact if you hadn’t seen someone in awhile just go grocery shopping in Exeter on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ll find them.  Everybody pretty much knew everybody else.

Times have changed Stratham, looks like Salem, NH, with the auto mile and no central district.  But the one thing that has not changed much is Stratham Hill Park.  Over the years it has been upgraded and everybody enjoys the Stratham Fair.  One of the upgrades is the town has added their small but meaningful veterans park that was designed and built by Peter Wiggin.  The Wiggin family is probably the oldest family to still live in Stratham and is so much part of the Town’s history.  Peter’s love for Stratham is sincere and genuine and he always gives with little takes.

Now the political governing body in Stratham is refusing to allow the POW Flag to be flown at their Veterans Park.  In fact one person on a local board referred to the POW flag as a hate flag and supposedly one of the Selectmen said there was no place for the flag to be flown in Stratham.  This takes me back to the hippie 60’s where people would smoke a lot of pot and protest the Vietnam War and those of us who suffered and fought through it.  If my theory is correct this proves how bad long term use of marihuana is on the human brain.

POWs as we refer to are dead, they know they're dead, I know they're dead and we know they're dead.  This flag honors those bodies yet to be reclaimed.  By not allowing the POW Flag to be flown where other veterans are honored is absolutely shameful and not only brings shame to the Selectmen but to the Town itself.  I know many of the woerful people in Stratham who disagree with the anti veteran/pow stance and respect them gratefully.

Let me tell you a little war story that still bothers me to tell it.  I was just 18 yrs old when I was sent to Korea in 1966.  I thought I was lucky that I didn’t get sent to Vietnam, although all my friends did and because of my extra infantry training specializing in guerrilla warfare, mostly reconnaissance and extended patrolling, I ended up north of the Im Jin River at the DMZ with Company C 1st Bn 38th Inf, 2d Division.  On a small scale the war was still being fought.

Because of increased infiltration and enemy patrolling into the DMZ and South of the South tape we were directed to dig defensive positions at the South Tape.  That is not easy with little GI shovels.  Another kid and I were digging and kept having to cut through roots of trees, and were tough to cut out.  As I was digging I came across what I thought was a root and I am whacking away and I found it wasn’t a root, it was a boot.  I told the kid with me, “hey look I found a boot”, upon closer inspection I found a decomposed foot in it.  We immediately stopped digging and called our duty officer.  What we did was dug into a mass grave.  What we found out later was they were all Americans, about 85 total that were probably buried by the Chinese.  We knew they were Americans because they all had their dog tags or enough of them did and the Chinese would bury our soldiers, sometimes.  Up until then they were MIAs, after 15 yrs or so they were finally able to come home.

The POW/MIA flag is not just a flag it is a commitment by our country to those who might never come home.  Not just a “thank you for your service”, but a god bless you and thank you for your suffering.  If we cannot show our love, respect and our gratitude then we, as a country, have lost our way.