“4 Area Veterans Attain Hall of Fame Status”
By: Patricia Villers, New Haven Register
November 18, 2009
Four Greater New Haven residents were among 11 veterans to receive a prestigious honor Tuesday when they were inducted into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Honorees include Shelton resident Alphonse N. Sabetta; Branford resident John “Jack” Joseph Dougherty; and Daniel A. Vece Jr. of Clinton. The fourth area honoree, the late state Rep. Richard O. Belden of Shelton, received the award posthumously.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell started the Hall of Fame in 2005 to pay tribute to those who have served the nation with distinction in the military and then returned home to serve their communities. Rell and Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Linda S. Schwartz inducted the veterans during a ceremony at the Legislative Office Building.
Rell said, “This is an exceptionally distinguished class of inductees — but they represent the dedicated military and public service of the many veterans in our state. They have made countless and important contributions to others with deeds and accomplishments that span a lifetime.”
Belden served in the Air Force from 1955 through 1961. Known as “The Dean of the House,” he served in the General Assembly continuously from 1974 until his death in 2007. He held many key leadership positions in the Legislature including assistant House Republican leader and deputy speaker of the House.
Sabetta, 78, is an Army veteran of the Korean War. He attained the rank of staff sergeant and earned two bronze stars and a presidential citation.
He and other Korean War veterans have always felt it was “the forgotten war,” Sabetta said. “It was always classified as a police action or conflict, but it was a war.” In 2008 he was inducted into the Department of Connecticut Hall of Fame.
Sabetta is past commander of Sutter-Terlizzi Post 16, American Legion in Shelton and serves as adjutant. He has served as chairman of Boys’ State selections and fundraising, oratorical contests, walkathons and community programs sponsored by Sutter-Terlizzi Post.
Sabetta was local coordinator of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Korean War and is coordinator in anticipation of the 60th anniversary.
Carolyn Ivanoff, housemaster at Shelton Intermediate School, nominated Sabetta for the honor. “I nominated Al because he has worked very closely with the community and the schools for many years to advocate for the veterans,” Ivanoff said.
Sabetta is Shelton’s registrar of veterans’ graves and he heads the Permanent War Memorial Commission in Shelton. He is also a member of the Shelton Civil War Monument Committee.
Dougherty enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1966. In Vietnam, he served as an infantryman and squad leader and participated in Operation Robin South Hill 685 (Phou Noui), during which he was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart. A volunteer since 1982 with the Boy Scouts of America, he is also a member of the Disabled American Veterans and the Military Order of the Devil Dogs. He serves as finance officer of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and has been a member and officer of the Marine Corps League.
The Marine Corps League named him the Connecticut Detachment Marine of the Year in 2008. Dougherty also received the New England Division Roland G. Knapp Award in 2008, the Marine Corps League Distinguished Bronze Service Medal and the Distinguished Silver Citizen Medal.
Vece enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1943 before graduating from high school. He fought at the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II and is an organizer of the Iwo Jima Memorial in New Britain. He is a member of the Iwo Jima Survivors Association.
He served as Clinton’s first selectman and held office on the Board of Selectmen for 13 years. A lifetime member of the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department and fire chief for 25 years, the Clinton Fire Department’s annual “Firefighter of the Year” award is named after him. During Vece’s tenure as chief, he helped bring regional 24-hour EMS services to Shoreline towns and was appointed by Gov. Ella Grasso to serve as chairman of the Emergency 911 Implementation Committee, which made Connecticut the second state in the nation to join the E-911 program. He is an active member of the American Legion, VFW and Lions Clubs.
Other honorees are Robert L. Genovese of Naugatuck, Dr. Harvey J. Grinsell Jr. of Putnam/Woodstock, Brig Gen. John J. King, formerly of Hartford (posthumous award), the Rev. William D. McGee of Winsted, Brig. Gen. Daniel J. McHale of Avon, Theodore J. Plamondon, Jr. of Enfield, and Homer L. Wise, formerly of Stamford (posthumous award).
Nomination packets for the 2010 Hall of Fame must be received by June 30, 2010. For information, visit
Patricia Villers can be reached at