Remembering Shelton veterans

Shelton resident and Korean War veteran Al Sabetta, pointed out the photographs etched on the black granite slab of the war memorials in Veterans Memorial Park along the city’s Riverwalk. On the polished back of the WWI monument is listed Charles W. Sutter, a private whose name is honored by Sabetta’s American Legion Post 16, named “Sutter-Terlizzi.”     

Sutter is listed among the 17 Shelton men who were killed in action during WWI, he was the first man from his city to die in battle. To the left of the World War I monument there are three more slabs representing those who made the sacrifice in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

According to the Connecticut military service records, Charles W. Sutter was a 21 year-old from 175 Division Avenue in Shelton. He enlisted in the army on Sept. 6, 1917 in Fairfield and served in the 304th infantry until Sept. 19, 1917 and then the 102nd infantry until his death. Sutter was killed in action on Feb. 28, 1918 in Chemins des Dames, France.      

A clipping from Milestones and Memories from the Suburban News showed that Sutter’s body was brought home on July 23, 1921 and was followed by a procession down Howe Ave.

Sabetta and members of the Shelton American Legion wanted to honor those like Sutter who sacrificed their lives for their country, and to also have a designated area to hold military ceremonies. Through 2000 and 2001 Sabetta, members of the Legion and his family visited several community development meetings to construct the memorial slabs.

Working with architect Jim Tate from James W. Tate and Associates landscape architect they decided that each slab would be uniquely cut and set diagonally across from each other.   

“There is a meaning why they are set in that staggered pattern,” said Tate in a phone interview. “It represents the individual soldiers as they march.”

The group eventually contacted Rock of Ages, a granite quarry in Vermont that gathered the black stones for the memorials.

According to Tate, the project which included setting up the area cost Shelton $211,000. The images chosen to be featured on each of the memorials were laser etched into the stone. Overall, the four slabs each measured at around nine feet, with a length of four feet and a width slightly above a foot.

On June 3, 2001 Mayor Mark Lauretti, Sabetta and the Legion officially unveiled the monuments to the public. Sabetta stayed at the site for a majority of the day.

The monument was not the first nor the last to remember those who fought and died in WWI. Down the street on Howe Avenue are two more monuments remembering those from the major wars and the “Great War.”

The newer of the two in which Sabetta and the Legion also had a part in is a large vertical stone with an eagle perched on top. The names listed were not only those killed in action but all casualties of the war, including one man from Desert Storm.

Built around six years ago, the newer monument features 18 names of Shelton residents killed in WWI, Pvt. George Amaral of the Army was the additional name.

The older monument, a plaque, was built around 1954 or 1955 according to Sabetta. The plaque only contains the name of 16 men that were killed in action in World War I.

Sabetta who dedicates much of his time to preserving the memory of veterans in memorials went through the names of those who served and died for their country, retelling stories of their service and life.

Sutter-Terlizzi Post 16 will conduct Veterans Day services at the Riverwalk in Shelton Friday, Nov. 11 beginning at 10:30 a.m. and it will be followed by an 11:30 a.m. service and luncheon at Post 16 on Bridgeport Ave.