With Bristol’s plans to honor its Vietnam veterans as its 2022 “Hometown Heroes,” I’ve been writing short biographies of those who made the supreme sacrifice serving our country during that war. Today it’s Lawrence J. Pelletier.
Born in Ticonderoga, N.Y. he was the son of Joseph E. and Doris Pelletier. The family moved to Rockville, where their kids first grew up, and then to New Britain. Mrs. Pelletier died when Lawrence was 15 years old, and his father later remarried and eventually moved to Bristol.
At age 17, Pelletier left New Britain High School, and shortly after went into military service. He and his sisters never experienced a happy and normal home life after the passing of their mother, thus the military direction in Lawrence Pelletier’s life.
His first overseas assignment was in Germany and on Feb. 8, 1967, he was sent to Vietnam. Less than two months later, while he was serving in a light infantry unit, the 25th Infantry Division, 1st. Battalion, 27th Infantry, C Company, a telegram was sent to his father in Bristol.
According to this notification from the Secretary of the Army to Joseph Pelletier, his son, a private first class, had been on a combat mission when he was hit and killed by hostile small arms fire on Mar. 28th in Hua Ngahia province.
This shook his family and those who knew him in New Britain, both at the high school and elsewhere.
“He was very well liked,” said Susan Zysk, his sister. They (U.S. soldiers serving in Vietnam) weren’t recognized back then, but the city did. At his funeral, the students, the high school principal, the mayor of New Britain and Governor Ella Grasso showed up.
“He would protect his sisters and help anyone who needed help. He was a wonderful brother.”
He also left behind his fiancee, Karen D’Angelo of New Britain. They had planned to meet in Hawaii to get married after his Vietnam tour was completed.
“She lives in Southington and we are friends,” Zysk said.
In fact, when the Moving Wall was in Bristol in 2007, Zysk, her sister Judy, D’Angelo and D’Angelo’s mother were among those at ceremonies on Memorial Boulevard before being feted at a dinner put on by the Bristol veterans at the American Legion Post 2.
“They called our names and gave us a wreath and we placed it beside the (Vietnam) monument,” Zysk said. “Then they played taps and things like that.”
Pelletier, who is listed on both the Bristol and New Britain Vietnam Memorials, was awarded as follows for his service: Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge, Marksmanship Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Army Presidential Unit Citation, Vietnam Gallantry Cross and Army Good Conduct Medal.
And had he survived the war and not made the supreme sacrifice, what kind of life would he have created for himself?
“He would have married the love of his life and they would have had children - they both loved children,” Zysk said. He would have been a great brother, and a wonderful uncle to myself and my two sisters’ children.”
Besides Zysk, his siblings were Judy Anderson and Diane Ouellette, of Southington and Maine, respectively, and a stepbrother, Leo Pelletier.
Lawrence J. Pelletier is buried at Fairview Cemetery in New Britain
Contact Bob Montgomery at email@example.com or by calling 860-583-5132.