“How can I make your job easier” was the directive that guided Nick Zallas through a 40-year career in the military. He served with National Guard and Reserve units in the Army and Air Force in communications and military police. Zallas was part of a response unit during the Blizzard of 1978 in Boston, as well as the Ramstein Air Show disaster in Germany in 1988. He retired from the Air Force Reserves in 2009 with the rank of colonel.
“Doc” Blaney joined the Army on his 18th birthday in 1943. Trained as a medic and a paratrooper, he parachuted near Utah Beach during the D-Day invasion at Normandy; he would spend the next six days treating the wounded in an old chapel. He was also at the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he joined the Air Force, and served during the Korean War in photo intelligence.
Wade Tambor joined the Navy in 1955, and was sent to Officers Candidates School in Newport, R.I. After earning his ensign’s commission, Tambor was sent to Adak in the Aleutian Islands for his first duty station. There, Tambor handled administrative duties. Tambor would also serve in San Francisco and the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. He would leave active service in 1958 with the rank of lieutenant.
Thomas Dahill joined the Army Air Corps in 1943, shortly after graduating from Arlington High School. He eventually became a navigator on a B-24, and was sent to the Philippines and New Guinea. He would fly 45 missions, including one that would be the longest trip ever made by a B-24.
Born and raised in South Boston, Bill Martin was drafted into the Navy in 1966 despite poor eyesight. Because he was a college graduate, he was sent to Officer Candidates School in Newport, R.I. Trained as a supply officer, Martin would serve in active duty and the Reserves for 30 years; he would see action off the coast of Vietnam and take part in Desert Storm. He retired from the Navy in 1997 with the rank of captain. As of this interview in 2019, Martin is the Veterans Services Officer for Kingston, Mass.
James Martin had just become a teacher in the Boston Public Schools when he joined the Marines in early 1967. He would be sent to Officers Candidates School in Quantico, Va.; he would receive further training in infantry and communications before he was sent to Vietnam. He would serve with the 11th Marines in a variety of duties, from signal officer to bartender.
Margie Labedz was the daughter of a World War I veteran who did her part in WWII as a member of the Victory Troubadours, a group of singers and dancers who entertained at local veterans’ hospitals. She also remembered other activities on the homefront such as rationing and air raid wardens. Her future husband, as well as her brothers and her two sons, have served in the military. Labedz is a lifetime member of the VFW Auxiliary.
Arthur Robert was a second lieutenant with the 403rd Civil Affairs Company when his unit was deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm. Robert would end up in Kuwait City organizing the transport of supplies. Robert would later serve with the Mass. National Guard, retiring in 2005 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Arthur Kovacs had finished two years’ study in civics engineering at the University of Buffalo, as well as some time in Haiti as a medical missionary, when he was drafted into the Army in 1970. He started out being trained to handle mortars, but soon transferred to clerk school. After basic, he was sent to West Germany, where he worked as a legal clerk in Frankfort. He was discharged in 1972.
Raffael deGruttola enlisted in the Army in 1953, shortly after graduating from Somerville High School. Because of his talents as a musician, he earned a spot in the 18th U.S. Army Band in Fort Devens. He would also earn a spot in the 1st U.S. Army Band in New York City, as well as attending the Naval School of Music Conservatory in Washington, D.C.