Tony Pavia Joins in Honoring Homer Wise at Hartford Ceremony

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Canaan High School Principal Tony Pavia and the author of An American Town Goes to War, a collection of stories of Stamford men who served in World War II. Mr. Pavia, who nominated Homer Wise to the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame, holds the medal presented by Governor Rell of Connecticut at the induction ceremony held in Hartford, CT on November 17th.

Homer Wise Honored by Governor Rell of Connecticut

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brig. Gen. Steven Scorzato, left, Assistant Adjutant General of the Connecticut Army National Guard, holds the certificate presented by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to James Vlasto, Project Director of the Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee, Inc. on behalf of World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient Homer Wise, as Linda Schwartz, state commissioner of veterans affairs looks on. (Henry Eschricht/contributed photo Stamford Advocate, November 18, 2009)
Stamford World War II hero named to state Veterans Hall of Fame
By Jeff Morganteen
Staff Writer - The Stamford Advocate
STAMFORD -- When speaking about Homer Lee Wise, friends and relatives usually rely on one word to describe the decorated World War II soldier -- humble.

"He was an ordinary person and he was my uncle," Jean Rinaldi, 66, said Tuesday. "I didn't think of him like a hero or anything."

The U.S. government, however, did think of Wise as a hero, and awarded him the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during a battle against German infantry in Magliano, Italy. It also awarded him a myriad of other medals, including a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.

By age 27, he was one of the most decorated World War II infantrymen. In Hartford Tuesday, Wise was also among 11 state residents named to the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame.
He was one of two Stamford residents to win the Medal of Honor. John Latham won the honor in World War I.

The city named two parks after both war heroes, and Tony Pavia, author of "An American Town Goes to War," a book about Stamford and its World War II veterans, used to visit Homer Lee Wise Memorial Park at Bedford and Chester streets for history tours with Stamford High School students.

Pavia along with James Vlasto, a Greenwich resident who is trying to raise money to build a statue of Wise, helped nominate Wise for the state's Veterans Hall of Fame. Wise was also named to the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame earlier this month because his hometown was Baton Rouge.

"It's more than just a Medal of Honor," Pavia said of choosing to nominate Wise. "The Medal of Honor alone would have entitled him this. When you look at the total picture, it's more compelling. He became an adoptive son of Stamford."

Vlasto said it's his goal to make sure Stamford residents remember Wise as one of the greatest soldiers in World War II. During his life in Stamford, the war hero remained quiet and tried to deflect questions about his medal with jokes; wise's own son didn't know his father won the Medal of Honor until a classmate told him, Vlasto said.

"The unfortunate part of this story is when he died in 1974, very few people knew who Homer Wise was," Vlasto said. "They named a little park after him on Bedford Street but didn't say anything about him."

That's why Vlasto is trying to raise close to $80,000 to construct a statue of Wise.

Rinaldi said it was only after her uncle's death that she realized the magnitude of his military honors. She never thought of him like an action-hero, but what he did in Magliano, Italy, went beyond what a Hollywood script could offer.

It was June 1944 and Wise's platoon was pinned down by gunfire from German soldiers. Wise left his cover, ran past German bullets, and with three other men carried a wounded soldier to safety.

Then three German soldiers -- an officer and two enlisted men -- appeared to the right of his platoon. Wise, then a staff sergeant, killed the German soldiers with a submachine gun. He then picked up a rifle and began firing at German positions, holding up their advance. He swapped his weapon for an automatic rifle and, leading his men, took out an enemy machine-gunner.

When German gunfire became more intense, he ran up to a nearby tank, unjammed its machine gun, and let loose on enemy soldiers. The German gunfire subsided thanks to Wise and his skill with the machine-gun, and his platoon took the hill that was their objective.

Then Wise came home to Stamford, worked odd jobs and worked as a waiter to help put his son through college.

"If you live through it, it's just amazing that you lived through it," Rinaldi said. "I don't think people brag about that kind of stuff."

Staff Writer Jeff Morganteen can be reached at or 203-964-2215.

WW II Museum in Abbeville Honors Homer L. Wise

Monday, November 16, 2009

The World War II Museum opened in Abbeville, Louisiana, November 15 with the inauguration of the first four inductees in the Hall of Fame, Stephen Bennett is represented by Angela Engle daughter, daughter; Jefferson DeBlanc is represented by Barbara Romero, daughter, Homer L. Wise is represented by James Vlasto and Howard Gilmore is represented by Louis LeBlanc, III.

Published on on November 16th, 2009.

Military museum moves ahead

Friday, November 13, 2009

ABBEVILLE — A dream will become reality Sunday when the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum holds its first induction ceremony and opens Phase 1.

This year's first Hall of Fame class will include Medal-of-Honor recipients Col. Jefferson DeBlanc (Marine Corps) of St. Martinville, Capt. Steven L. Bennett (Air Force), Cmdr. Howard Walter Gilmore (Navy) and Master Sgt. Homer L. Wise (U.S. Army).

Louisiana has had 11 Medal of Honor winners, all deceased. Others will be inducted in later ceremonies, likely on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

The museum, located at 911 Revis Simon Loop on the grounds of the Chris Crusta Airport in Abbeville, honors the service of every Louisiana military veteran.

Bruce Brown • • November 13, 2009

The Daily Advertiser

Louisiana Military Hall of Fame to open next Sunday in Abbeville

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Four will be inducted

An Army helicopter will be on display in the museum in Abbeville.

By Justin Martin

Incorporated in 1991, the original goal of the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum in Abbeville was to build a museum to honor those veterans from the State of Louisiana.

This coming Sunday, the first giant step toward that goal will be realized as Phase 1 of the project will open to the public. Visitors will be able to peruse the many exhibits within the museum as well as observe F-15 flyovers, parachuters and bands of all kinds.

The highlight of the day will be the inaugural induction into the Hall of Fame. Four Medal of Honor recipients from around Louisiana will be honored posthumously by becoming the very first inductees into the hall at a solemn ceremony at 2 p.m. The seven living Louisiana Medal of Honor recipients will be inducted in the future.

Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne will speak at the event Sunday, which will open the 15th such museum in Louisiana. The event will be free and open to the public; events are slated from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Chris Crusta Airport.“Festivities making the opening of the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum in Abbeville will have significance far beyond the event,” Dardenne said. “We will pay rich tribute to our Louisiana heroes, who risked or lost their lives for others.

Organizers say about 400 family members, friends and guests of inductees will attend from all over the United States.Next Sunday’s inductees will be Capt. Steven Logan Bennett of Lafayette, Col. Jefferson J. DeBlanc of St. Martinville, Cdr. Howard W. Gilmore of New Orleans and M/Sgt. Sgt. Homer L. Wise of Baton Rouge.

Bennett was 26 when killed in 1972 during the Vietnam War, leaving behind his wife and young daughter. A captain in the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron, Pacific Air Forces, USAF, he had received an aerospace engineering degree and served in the ROTC at ULL. Entering the Air Force in 1968, he earned his pilot wings and completed B-52 bomber, and fighter, training. In April, 1972, he reported to Da Nang, Vietnam, and in June was killed at Quang Tri.

Without artillery or tactical air support, he piloted his aircraft to strafe hostile positions. After four passes, the enemy began retreating; on the fifth, his aircraft was struck and caught on fire. Knowing that the parachute of his co-pilot, Mike Brown, had been shredded, he opted to ditch the plane into the Gulf of Tonkin, knowing that a pilot in this type of aircraft had never survived that type of landing. Brown survived and was rescued. A resident of Dallas, he plans to attend, along with a number of Bennett’s family, including his daughter.

DeBlanc, a graduate of ULL, where he joined the Civilian Pilot training program and learned to fly Piper Cubs, he entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program, and in 1942, was sent to the Pacific. At age 21, DeBlanc, was a fighter pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps when he shot down five Japanese warplanes in the Battle of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on Nov. 12, 1942. Even knowing fuel was low, he refused to turn back and was forced to bail out over shark-infested waters. After swimming all night to reach an island, he subsisted three days on coconuts. He was discovered by a tribe of indigenous natives who traded him to another tribe for a sack of rice. Aided by the second tribe and an Anglican missionary, he managed to get back to Henderson Field.

After the war, he earned four degrees, including a doctorate in education from McNeese State University. He taught math and science in St. Martinville schools and retired from the Marine Air Reserve in 1972. He died at 86 in November, 2007, in Lafayette. His many family members and friends plan to attend the event.

Cdr. Howard Walter Gilmore of New Orleans became the first U.S. submariner to receive the Medal in WWII, awarded posthumously. He gave his life in a selfless act of heroism that has become an inspiring legend of the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Force. The expression “Take Her Down” was uttered by Gilmore, wounded, as he stood on deck of the USS Growler, under attack in Bismarck Archipelago near New Guinea. He gave the order, knowing that he would not be able to make it before submersion. His crew and submarine made it safely back to port.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, in 1926, he commanded the USS Shark, narrowly surviving an assault by a group of thugs in Panama, who cut his throat in an excursion ashore. In 1942 he took command of the USS Growler, fourth boat of the 81-ship Gatos class and sailed her to the Pacific Theater, where she engaged in three prior missions vital to the nation’s defense. Event planners are still seeking Cdr Gilmore’s friends and relatives.

M/Sgt. Homer L. Wise, U.S. Army, of Baton Rouge was one of the most decorated infantrymen in WWII. He enlisted at age 24 in 1941 and entered combat in 1943. By age 27 he had received the Medal of Honor; within one year he received 11 other medals.

In Magliano, Italy, in the summer of 1944, he was squad leader of Company L, 142nd infantry regiment, when well-trained, experienced German soldiers offered intense resistance. The day being hot, artillery fire set dry grass ablaze. Sgt. Wise and three others went into the fire-swept area to bring a wounded buddy to safety, while combating Germans. Wise later fired a rifle grenade launcher upon enemy positions causing them to flee, and boldly climbed on a tank, remedied a stoppage in the turret machine gun and fired into the enemy’s positions, allowing the battalion to continue.

In 1958 Wise was one of six honorary pallbearers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He was a guest of the President at the inaugurations of Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Johnson. Wise was one of the most-decorated infantrymen of WWII. He performed heroically in civilian life also, and died in Connecticut at age 57. The Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee, Inc. and family members will attend the event to honor M/Sgt. Wise.

Dance bands, food concessionaires, military static displays and flyovers are on the agenda. The Louisiana National Guard Band will perform the national anthem and “God Bless America.”
Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, as the crowd is expected to be large.

The museum’s first phase features exhibits, placing emphasis on the memorial Hall of Fame area. Oral histories now being collected will be incorporated into each exhibit, and visitors will be able to hear the veterans’ stories in their own words. When completed, the museum will include all branches, all wars. Every veteran in Louisiana from as far back as possible will be recognized in a database format. Many veterans and/or their families have donated artifacts to the museum.

The museum will be open to the public that day.

Posted on (Abbeville Meridonial)

Great story of individual heroism came to light

Friday, November 6, 2009

(Click on photo to enlarge)

We continue to research the military career of Master Sergeant Homer Wise.

"One of the great stories of individual heroism came to light." Stars and Stripes, December 7, 1944

Stars and Stripes was a daily newspaper available to soldiers fighting in Europe, the Pacific, Italy and other areas.

Copyright 2011 The Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee, Inc.