EAST HAVEN, Conn. – Soldiers and Airmen from several units throughout the Connecticut and Rhode Island National Guard came together to test their team and individual marksmanship skills during the Connecticut Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Competition at the East Haven Rifle Range here, Aug. 1-3.
In addition to being a competition with awards presented to top competitors, the event was also a combat focused shooting event which was intended to expose participants to both distant and close-quarter battle with the M16 rifle and M9 pistol, according to Lt. Col. Paul Thompson, state training officer, Connecticut Army National Guard.
The weekend-long match tested the participants’ shooting abilities with both weapons in a variety of scenarios. Depending on the particular event, the competitors were either judged individually or as a part of a 4-member team.
For instance, during one event each competitor was given a short amount of time (15-30 seconds) to draw their pistol from their holster and engage a target approximately 15 meters away. They were then scored according to the number and accuracy of the shots that hit the targets.
In another event, the competitors had to work as a part of a 4-member team, running 300 meters together to the firing line, where they then had to come on line together and engage several targets with their M16 rifles at a distance of approximately 25 meters. During this event, the entire team was graded on their ability to hit the targets.
The purpose of that event was to test the competitors’ abilities to shoot with an elevated heart rate, said Staff Sgt. Larry Davis, an automated logistical specialist, 1109th Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group, CTARNG.
Davis, from Voluntown, Connecticut, said that he, like many of the competitors, participated in the competition as an opportunity to better himself and his fellow Soldiers. He also said his desire to participate stemmed from “a competitive drive and the pride involved in the chance to represent his unit.”
“This event is pretty cool because it’s not just a standard weapons qualification,” Davis said. “You get to learn different cool techniques, like shooting from the hip or shooting off-hand, which we can use to improve our shooting, and take that back to our unit,” he said.
“Everybody is having fun,” said Davis. “We’re getting to meet so many really great people,” he said.
This is especially true, Davis added, if we move on to further rounds of the competition.
The top two shooting teams two individual competitors qualified to compete in the Military Advisory Council Region 1 Combat Marksmanship Competition, scheduled to take place at the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho, Vermont. Sept. 18-21.
The MAC 1 regional competition will pit the Soldiers and Airmen against fellow military competitors from throughout the entire Northeast region of the United States for a chance to compete at the National competition at Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Ark. next April.
Connecticut has provided care for Veterans and their dependents for over 140 years. The first home was founded on July 4, 1864, and it was known as FITCH’S HOME FOR SOLDIERS AND THEIR ORPHANS.
Benjamin Fitch, philanthropist of Darien, established the home for Civil War veterans and for children whose fathers were killed in that war. The complex of buildings included a hospital, chapel, library, residence hall, and administrative facilities.
From 1864 to 1940 the Fitch Home served the needs of hundreds of orphans and thousands of men who served their country in various wars. Over two thousand of those veterans now rest in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Darien.
The Fitch home became the Connecticut State Veterans hospital in 1940 and relocated to Rocky Hill, Connecticut.
The Fitch Home for Soldiers and their Orphans was established by Benjamin Fitch, one of Darien’s more dynamic citizens. Prior to the Civil War, this wealthy bachelor had left Darien for New York only to return several years later as a dry goods magnate and one of America’s first millionaires. At the age of 51 he retired and devoted his life to philanthropy.
Benjamin Fitch, being too old to fight in the Civil War, helped organize a Regiment from this area (124 Darien Residents served in the 28th Regiment, ten died, one at Andersonville Prison). Mr. Fitch promised to care for the families of soldiers in this and other Regiments. This concern led to the establishment of the Fitch Home for Soldiers and their Orphans in 1864. Benjamin Fitch donated the original five acres and $100,000 for the construction of the Home. Shortly thereafter, four two-story buildings were erected on five acres, and the Home was dedicated on July 4, 1864 by the renowned Horace Greeley, Editor of the New York Tribune. Benjamin Fitch’s Home also received the support of General Grant and President Andrew Johnson.
By 1865 the Trustees of the Home decided that Civil War orphans needed the Home more than Civil War soldiers. In time, 80 orphans resided at the Home. A special preference was given to Darien orphans and needy children. On October 7, 1867, the Town voters decided to pay "each child of the Town of Darien in Fitch’s Home one dollar per week…" Benjamin Fitch also opened bank accounts with a deposit of $5 for each orphan residing in the Home. When these Civil War orphans grew up, the Fitch Home was once again used by soldiers. The Home itself was expanded to include a fine brick building intended to serve as a library for over 5,000 books and as an art gallery for the edification of tough, battle-hardened veterans of Shiloh and Gettysburg.
Benjamin Fitch died in 1883 at the age of 81 and is buried in the Fitch vault beneath St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. In his last will and Testament, Fitch left an additional $14,500 to the Home. Following his death, conditions at the Home deteriorated. On January 15, 1887, seventeen voters of the Town petitioned the Selectmen for a meeting to ask the General Assembly for "such legislation as will more fully promote the well-being of the inmates of Fitch’s Home for Soldiers and increase the efficiency of said institution." The petition bore the names of Weed, Hoyt, Mather, Morehouse, Whitney, and others. By 1888, the State assumed responsibility for operating the Fitch Home, and the Soldier’s Hospital Board took over the management of the Home.
In the years to follow, the Fitch Home housed soldiers, sailors, and marines from the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, Mexican War and later World War I. Photographs taken of the Fitch Home at the turn of the century show black veterans residing at the Home long before the military services were themselves integrated.
The Home eventually expanded from 5 acres to 12 acres with another 5 acres across the street and 2 more acres at Spring Grove Cemetery. The Home steadily grew from 197 resident soldiers in 1889 to 500 soldiers in 1905 and 547 veterans in 1910.
Anyone living near the Soldiers Home would hear reveille in the morning and taps in the evening. One would also never forget the drum-beat of the long roll when an old soldier died. Taps would be played as the remains passed through the big gates.
In the 1920’s movies were shown twice a week at the chapel of the Home. These movies had no sound and were usually about wild Indians and cowboys. The movies were for the old soldiers and the neighbors in the area. The Soldiers Home also had the first and always the best radio in the neighborhood.
Many Darien residents recall that between World War I and World War II, the Commandant of the Home gave an address on Memorial Day. Several hundred veterans would march from the Fitch Home down Noroton Avenue to the Spring Grove Cemetery. The soldiers march wearing their Civil War blue uniforms with black hats, or the younger veterans in their Khaki uniforms, rank after rank of them, all very somber and thoughtful. The disabled veterans came in buses. The spirit of Memorial Day was never stronger in Darien. Here were hundreds of veterans marching to pay their respects to fellow veterans. There are over two thousand soldiers buried at Spring Grove Cemetery.
In the Memorial Day Parade the veterans were followed by the American Legion, Ernest F. Sexton Post 51, then by Boy Scouts, the Umberto Society and service clubs such as the Kiwanis Club. Darien’s three volunteer fire departments would bring up the rear along with the Fitch Home ambulance. The Grand Marshal and his guests would review the parade at the Noroton Heights Fire House, then located on Linden Avenue. After the parade an Italian-American Band gave concerts at the Soldiers Home.
During the 1920’s Colonel Henry J. Seeley had the Soldiers Home all spiffed up. The place was painted inside and out, several maple and spruce trees were planted around the grounds and there was plenty of room for the 250 veterans or so who by then lived there. Colonel Seeley was himself a veteran of the Civil War and is said to have run a tight operation.
By 1929 the State Veterans’ Home Commission was responsible for the management of the Fitch Soldiers Home. At that time, there were only 117 veterans in residence. In 1931, the Fitch Home was expanded. The hospital was enlarged and two new dormitories were constructed. This expansion increased accommodations from 375 to 500 veterans in The Home itself and another 250 veterans in the hospital unit. During the Depression in the 1930’s, soldiers flocked to the Fitch Home. In 1932 the number of soldiers in residence had increased to 1,000. Overcrowding was particularly severe during the cold winter months. Even the chapel was used for sleeping quarters with everything being cleaned up for church services. In 1934 the State Veterans Home Commission complained to Governor Wilbur Cross about the crowded conditions.
Even while the Soldiers Home was being expanded, its days were numbered. In October of 1931, the Veterans Home Commission voted to abandon the Fitch Home and seek a site of not less than 150 acres elsewhere in the state.
The Darien Review reported that on January 31, 1935, Civil War veteran Elvie Howe died at Fitch’s Soldiers Home. Elvis Howe was 99 year old. As of 1935, there were still three Civil War veterans living there. The Soldiers Home boasted having a card and smoking room, a pool-billiard room with four tables, a barber shop, laundry, and bakery on the premises. There was also a library of several thousand volumes when there was no public library in Town.
When the Home was closed, residents included one Civil War veteran, one Indian War veteran, 50 veterans of the Spanish War, 10 of the Mexican War and 499 veterans from the Great War (World War I). The Last Commandant at the Fitch Home was Colonel Raymond F. Gates. Major Grover Sweet was chief medical officer who served along with Captain Frank D. Walsh.
The soldiers moved out on August 28, 1940. The last living Civil War veteran at the Home, Edmund Kleespies (97), went down to the train along with William Cassidy (87) who was a veteran of the Indian Wars. It was raining like the dickens and vans brought the soldiers down to the Noroton train station. A special train of 4 coaches and 2 baggage cars took the soldiers to their new home at Rocky Hill.
Foot Note: The above information was copied from an article written by Edmund F. Schmidt.
Since opening in 1940 the current Home has gone through many changes. The original land sold to the state by the Gilbert Family of Rocky Hill consisted of over 150 acres. Currently there are approximately 90 acres left of the original purchase. Over 60 acres was given to the Town of Rocky Hill by the General Assembly for the formation of a park. We have 40 buildings on the campus located at 287 West Street in the Town of Rocky Hill, CT.
We provide general medical care for veterans honorably discharged from the Armed Forces. We have a Health Care Facility with approximately 180 beds that provides extended health care to veterans through physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, Alzheimer unit, and hospice care.
We have a domicile with approximately 483 beds available that provides residents with a continuum of rehabilitation care. Veterans receive substance abuse treatment, educational and vocational rehabilitation, job skills development, self-enhancement workshops, employment assistance and transitional living opportunities.
Sgt John L. Levitow (USAF) Veterans Health Center
Dedicated May 22, 2008
On May 22, 2008 we celebrated the Ribbon Cutting and Dedication of the new Sgt. John L. Levitow Veterans Health Center, a state-of-the-art, long-term healthcare facility and the first new construction on the campus in over sixty years. We have also replaced the 64 year old water system with a new state-of-the-art water system and we are currently renovating our domiciles.
If you are part of the CT National Guard or if you are a past member of the CT National Guard, please consider joining this agency. To learn more about what they can offer to you please visit them at: http://ngact.org/
Below is how their Constitution reads.
The National Guard Association of Connecticut
Of October 1993, as amended in March 1996, March 1997, March 2002, March 2003, March 2004, March 2007, and March 2012
Article I – Name
The name of this Association shall be “The National Guard Association of Connecticut,” herein called the Association.
Article II – Purpose
Section 1. To improve the welfare and efficiency of the National Guard of Connecticut and the National Guard of the United States and to achieve their interests.
Section 2. To promote and support state and national security as provided for under the Constitution of the State of Connecticut and the United States of America.
Section 3. To encouraged increased association, friendship, understanding and cooperation between all members of this Association.
Section 4. To foster improved relations of the Army and Air National Guard of Connecticut with the general public.
Section 5. To initiate and/or support legislation, both state and federal, for the betterment of the National Guard of the state and nation.
Section 6. To obtain benefits for the Guard members as individuals that are similar to those enjoyed by their counterparts in the active federal service.
Section 7. To promote the best interests of the Association and the purpose for which it was formed, it shall have the power to receive and collect membership dues and accept contributions, and may acquire, hold, take gifts, devise or purchase property, either real or personal, and invest its funds therein. It may sell and dispose of such property and create obligations when it is in the best interests of the Association. All income from whatever source derived shall be used exclusively to promote the purpose for which the Association is organized.
Section 8. To be the Connecticut affiliates of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States and the National Guard Association of the United States and to promote the goals and purposes of those organizations.
Article III – Membership
Section 1. Every active, retired or former member of the National Guard, separated under honorable conditions, is eligible for membership in this Association. All persons, having paid their yearly dues before the annual business meeting/conference and life members will be considered as members in good standing and entitled to vote and hold office in the Association.
Article IV – Meetings
Section 1. The Association shall hold its annual business meeting of members for election of Association officers, and the Executive Council, and for the transaction of such business as properly may be brought before it. The Executive Council will set a date for the annual meeting/conference annually during the first quarter of fiscal year.
Section 2. Special meetings of the members can be called by the President or upon written request of one third (1/3) of the members of the Executive Council.
Section 3. Notice of all meetings shall be published at least one month preceding the date of the meeting.
Section 4. A quorum shall exist at the regular annual meeting/conference or any special meeting when five percent (5%) of the membership of the Association is represented.
Article V – Officers
Section 1. The officers of the Association shall be as follows:
Vice President – Officer
Vice President – Enlisted
Section 2. Term of Office
All Officers shall be elected for a two-year period or until their qualified successor is elected.
Election of Officers shall be held at the annual meeting/conference during even numbered years, commencing at the 1998 annual meeting/conference.
The office of President may be held by either an Officer or Enlisted member of the Association and the one Vice President shall be an Officer and one Vice President shall be an Enlisted member of the Association.
If any elected officer or member of the executive council is unable to complete tenure of their elected term, under the provisions of the NGACT Constitution, an
interim replacement will be appointed by the President and approved by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of remaining members of the Executive Council.
Section 3. There shall be an Executive Council of the Association consisting of the following:
a. The duly elected officers of the Association.
b. Two Retired National Guard Member, officer or enlisted, one Army and one Air.
c. One Officer, one Senior Enlisted and one Junior Enlisted member from the Connecticut Air National Guard.
d. One Officer, one Senior Enlisted and one Junior Enlisted member from the Connecticut Army National Guard.
e. Two At-Large-Members from the Connecticut Army National Guard and two At-Large-Members from the Connecticut Air National Guard.
f. Executive Director.
Section 4. The President shall be the chairman ex-officio of the Executive Council.
Section 5. Election of Executive Council members with the exception of the Executive Director shall be during the annual meeting each year as follows:
During even numbered years, the officers of the Association and four members-atlarge will be elected.
During odd numbered years three Army Guard members and three Air Guard members of the ranks specified in subsections 3c and 3d above, and the two Retired members National Guard member will be elected.
Section 6. Members of the Executive Council shall attend all meetings called by the chairman. Failure to attend any two consecutive scheduled meetings without sufficient reason shall be sufficient cause for such person to be removed from office in accordance with Article V, Section 7 of this Constitution.
Section 7. Any member of the Executive Council of the Association may be suspended or removed from office for inefficiency or conduct grossly detrimental to the interests of the Association, or for any grave cause by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the members of the Executive Council.
Section 8. A quorum of the Executive Council shall consist of nine (9) members.
Section 9. Duties and Powers of Elected Officers
The President shall preside at the annual meeting/conference and special meetings of the Association and shall be the chairman ex-officio of the Executive Council. The President shall be a member ex-officio of all committees, be responsible for the location and operations of the Executive Council and have authority to incur such incidental expenses, that do not exceed limits imposed by the Association’s by-laws, that occur between Executive Council meetings.
The Vice President shall perform the duties of the President during the absence or disability of the President and such duties as the President may assign.
The Secretary shall have charge of all the records pertaining to the Association. The Secretary of the Association shall also be ex-officio Secretary of the Executive Council. The Secretary shall notify members of the Association of all meetings at least 30 days prior thereto. The remuneration for services required shall be specified in the by-laws.
The Treasurer shall receive and receipt for and be custodian of all funds of any nature whatsoever due the Association and such contributions as may be made to it and be bonded in the amount not less than the balance of the treasury at the last open meeting. The Treasurer shall draw warrants in payment of all bills and claims against the Association. There shall be an annual audit of the books and finances of the Association and a report thereof submitted to the Executive Council prior to the annual meeting and to the Association at the annual meeting. The treasurer shall make an annual report of the finances of the Association to the annual business meeting. The remuneration for the required services shall be specified in the bylaws.
Section 10. Executive Director Duties and Responsibilities
Furnish staff support and administrative support to the President.
Act as official representative of the Association in dealing with other organizations and/or businesses.
Perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the By-laws or assigned by the President of the Association.
Be a non-voting member of the Executive Board.
The Executive Director shall be appointed by the Executive Council through the competitive process from applications of the Association membership.
The remuneration for required services of the Executive Director shall be specified in the By-laws.
Section 11. Parliamentarian Duties and Responsibilities
Be a non-voting member of the Executive Board.
Aid and advise the President, Executive Board, committees, members and staff in Parliamentarian Procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order.
Is knowledgeable on the contents of the Association’s By-Laws and Constitution.
Is a source of information on Parliamentary Procedure, but has no authority to make rulings or to enforce them.
Is appointed by the President with consent of 2/3 of the Executive Board.
Article VI – Finance
Section 1. The fiscal year shall be from 1 January each year through 31 December of the same year.
Section 2: Not used.
Section 3. Expenditure of funds must be for either internal operations of the Association or consistent with the purpose, goals, objectives and policies of the Association as set forth in the Constitution and By-laws.
Section 4. All requirements for funds must be submitted in writing with complete justification to the Finance Committee for review and inclusion in each year’s budget except that the President of the Association shall be authorized to expend an amount not to exceed $300.00 per quarter without requiring prior approval of the Finance Committee or Executive Board. Such discretionary expenditures shall be reported to the Treasurer immediately upon being incurred and shall be reviewed not less than quarterly by the Executive Board in order to ensure compliance with the requirements of Subsection 3 above.
Article VII – By-Laws
The Association shall publish and maintain a set of By-laws which shall be adhered to by all members. All meeting will be run in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order.
Article VIII – Omitted
Article IX Amendments
Section 1: This Constitution may be amended by a majority vote of the members present at any regular meeting or at any special meeting called for such purpose by the President of the Association. Prepared amendments of the Constitution must be submitted at least sixty (60) days prior to the date of the meeting to which the proposed amendments are to be considered.
Section 2: The Associations By-Laws may be amended by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Executive Council at a properly convened meeting of the Executive Council. Amendments or changes to the By-Laws shall be reported to the membership at the annual meeting/conference by the President.