Friday, May 29, 2009

Quick Note About the Zuni Tam

Received a call from my old shipmate Rich Cunningham yesterday. We're all on pins and needles waiting to see if a certain city in Virginia is interested in negotiating with us for docking space. A group of city employees visited the ship yesterday and so far we haven't heard anything. Right now I'm full of angst!!! Arrrggghhh!!

My home PC committed suicide so I can't keep up with what's going on from home. We'll purchase a new one this weekend.

Monday, May 25, 2009

MEMORIAL DAY, John Haring and the 6th New York Heavy Artillery

Around Memorial Day each year, I think of a few people, veterans all who have had an impact on my life. They are my father William Doherty a Navy Vet, Vin Accardi my father- in- law an Army vet and a close friend Roger Carey, also an Army vet. But there is one other who is in my thoughts. A young soldier named John Haring who died as a result of wounds sustained in the Spotsylvania campaign during our Civil War.

Like most people, certain things define one’s attitudes; for me, I am both a Veteran and a Civil War freak. On Memorial Day, 1996, an event occurred which motivated both of those elements within me. My oldest son and I will be setting it right. Sean was at the time a member of the North Rockland Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. The week before Memorial Day, he and his fellow cadets set about placing American flags on the graves of all Veterans at Mount Repose in Haverstraw, N.Y.

On Memorial day, we arrived at the Cemetery a little early for the ceremony so I meandered among the graves, my curiosity aroused. After a couple of minutes, I noticed a well-worn marker, around the top of which read “He died for his Country." Beneath that was a worn carving of an American Flag under which was the name John H. Haring. The date of death was June 19, 1864. I looked for but did not see a G.A.R. marker. Moreover, there was no American flag placed on the grave. A transgression that Sean will not soon forget. I was upset that his grave was overlooked.

Immediately, we searched for an additional flag. With none to be found, we came upon a grave with two flags on it. I hope the veteran didn’t mind, but the spare flag made its way to Haring’s grave. After all, it was to the memory of Union soldiers killed in the Civil War that we owe the existence of Memorial Day.

My depth of feeling for the Civil War soldier (North and South) is well known by my family and friends. As the saying goes, I “Still hear the guns." Forgetting John Haring, while insignificant on the surface, started me on a quest to learn all I could about the man. It was not just overlooking Haring that bothered me, but what about the thousands of soldiers like him.?

Sean and I set out for the library on June 8, 1996 and started scanning the 1860 Census for Rockland County. We went through about sixty pages with no results. Later on that day, I continued the quest by reading through four years worth of the Rockland County Messenger. I found a few references to Harings, including one of a John Haring being assigned to Grand Jury duty in May of 1861. Was this our man? I thought so, except for the fact that this Haring was listed from Orangetown. If he was my Haring at Mount Repose, why was he buried in Haverstraw?

June 15th ---- the search continues. I went to the Historical Society of Rockland County to see if they could help. Deep in my heart, I knew he was a Union soldier, but I had no definite proof. Within minutes of my arrival, I found it. John Haring was listed as a member of the 6th Heavy Artillery in Cole’s 1884 History of Rockland County. He enlisted in August of 1862 and is listed as having died from wounds June 22, 1864 (his grave says June 19, 1864).

Persistence has its rewards. We went back to the New City Library and continued looking through the 1860 census records. About 160 pages later, we found the Haring family. John H. Haring was the second eldest of seven children. Son of Luke and Mary Haring, he is listed at the age of 17 with the occupation of mason.

We wrote the National Archives to get a copy of John Haring’s Army record’s. In the meantime we will pour through all the local resources including the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. It should be fascinating to learn about some of the engagements the 6th Heavies and our John Haring (yes, I adopted him, whether he likes it or not) participated in.

It is a shame that the epitaph on his grave is worn off. It may have given me some clues to go by. His headstone is made of marble ( a soft stone and is on a hill facing westerly winds). Even the top inscription “He died for his country” is difficult to read. There is only one other tombstone in the cemetery like it. The Civil War gravestone of John Doyle was identical (he died on June 15, 1864). Doyle’s headstone is sheltered so the flag and top inscription are easily discernable on his. I suppose restoring or replacing it is out of the question ( are any of Haring’s ancestors reading this?) Perhaps we can at least see to it that a G.A.R. marker be placed there. Coincidentally, in my most recent issue of the North-South Civil War Trader there was a letter from a Jim Leavenworth who has one and would like to see it properly used. I immediately placed a phone call to him but he was on vacation. I started lobbying with my local Rockland County Civil War Round Table to help as well.

Below are the facts I have as of June 15, 1996, 1860 Census:
Haring, John H.
Age: 17
Occupation: Mason
Family of 9: 6 brothers and sisters:
Father Luke, age 45
Mother Mary, age 40
Sister Emallie?( hard to read), age 19
Sister Caroline, age 15
Sister Catherine, age 12
Brother James, age 11
Brother William, age 7
Brother Charles, age 6

Buried at Mount Repose Cemetery:
Headstone inscribed “He died for his country”
“Son of Luke and Mary Haring”
“Aged 21 Years”
Can’t read epitaph
“Died June 19, 1864”

There is no mention on the stone of the 6th Heavies, which to me is curious, considering that he died while a member of the unit.

During my search for John Haring’s past, a series of eerie events began to unfold. While searching the census for information on Haring, I ran across the household of John Coleman, a future Sergeant in the 95th New York Infantry. I wrote an article about the 95th in our local Historical Society’s Journal and I recalled the name. How quaint, I thought, as Coleman’s and Haring’s pasts brushed together ever so slightly.

June 17, 1996, We called the National Archives for the procedure to obtain Haring’s army record. They will send us forms to fill out and for ten dollars we will have Haring’s record. We received the form NATF 80 on June 24th.

While we were awaiting the results from the National Archives, it was decided to start looking into the history of the 6th New York Heavy Artillery, John Haring’s unit. I called the Assistant Director of Special Collections at West Point, Mr. Alan Aimone and made an appointment with him.

Approximately seven hours was spent pouring through the O.R. gleaning every little known fact about the 6th Heavies. Initially they were mustered in as the 135th New York Volunteers of Infantry and were stationed at Baltimore then Harper’s Ferry as garrison troops. Eventually they were redesignated the 6th New York Heavy Artillery. The Heavies had a relatively easy time of it until July, 1863 when they were ordered to Gettysburg to help bury the dead. The 6th Heavies joined the army of the Potomac in time for the Bristoe and Mine Run campaigns in the fall, 1863. In May, 1864 when the slumbering armies awoke to begin another spring campaign, the 6th Heavies were designated as foot artillery (a fancy name for conversion to infantryman). They engaged into some horrific fighting, losing over 400 members of the regiment, including my John Haring,(he was wounded in the thigh on May 19, 1864 and died over a month later in late June of complications) by the war’s end.

Waiting for the records made me crazy. I had to keep looking for something but I didn’t know what to do. Finally, I went back to the Mount Repose Cemetery for another look. You see I thought I’d just sit down by Haring’s plot, meditate and...... Within a few minutes, I found the graves of Luke and Mary Haring, John’s parents.

What happened next? My mind and my gaze began to wander. Suddenly, shivers ran down my spine and the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up; for two plots to the right was the grave of John Coleman, my friend from the 95th. It scared the hell out of me! Not only because of my previous encounters with Coleman while searching for Haring’s past, but because I only have one item from the 95th Regiment in my collection. It happens to be John Coleman’s Certificate of Promotion to First Sergeant before Petersburg on August 12, 1864.

Finally on August 10, 1996 I received his records. But that was not enough! I had to find out what if any relationship there was between Coleman and Haring. Again, I wrote to the Archives, this time for Coleman’s pension records. September 16, 1996, John Coleman’s pension file arrives! And, good grief, it’s not a coincidence! His wife is Catherine Haring, John’s sister. I have a connection! John Coleman is an in-law to the Harings. I wonder if Haring knew John Coleman before he was killed? All this time, I knew somehow, there was a connection between those two “soldiers of the Union.” Who would have ever thought that the head stone of a soldier in the 6th New York Heavy Artillery could be linked with a certificate of promotion for a soldier in the 95th Infantry?

We are close to the end. Today the G.A.R. marker is now by Haring’s headstone forever identifying him as a Civil War Veteran. Sean’s NJROTC instructor, Commander Ross gave a nice presentation and a local re-enactor group, the 40th New York attended firing a volley over John’s grave.. I suppose their souls are at rest now, John Haring has his marker and with any luck, John Coleman will continue to turn up in my life. This bit of research has whetted the appetite. I have already started a paper on Rockland County in the Civil War. With some luck it may amount to something in the future.

Thanks to the North South Civil War Trader and fellow NSCWT subscriber Jim Leavenworth, Haring’s grave will be decorated as it deserves. I had no idea who John Haring was. This was not a grandiose scheme of any kind. It was simply one veteran making sure that the deeds of a soldier who was not even fortunate enough to become a veteran, ( in other words, stay alive) would be remembered by future generations.

Closing this brief chapter on Haring is an encapsulation of his army career:

Haring, John H. Age 21; Enrolled at Haverstraw, August 25, 1862; Mustered in at Fort McHenry, December 11, 1862 for three years. Listed as present for duty from January, 1863 to June, 1864. In Sept./Oct., 1863 he was charged 20 cents for a cartridge box belt and plate. In December, 1863 he was charged 44 cents for a canteen. January/February, 1864 on detached service then recalled to the regiment; wounded in the thigh near Spotsylvania on May 19, 1864. Died June 22, 1864 at Carver U.S. General Hospital in Washington, D.C.. Personal effects listed were: 1 cap, 1 Uniform coat, 1 pair flannel drawers, 1 flannel shirt, 1 pair socks, 1 portfolio and a handkerchief. His personal effects were signed for by his father Luke Haring and his body transported home for burial at Mt. Repose.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Engravably Yours........

Yestersay I had some extra cash burning a hole in my pockets so I decided to browse my favorite pen store, Engravably Yours, in Spring Valley, NY. I saw and tried out as new Cross Fountain Pen which was really nice. Its called the C series and has a 14K gold rhodium plated nib on it. The section is rubberized so its easy to hold on to and the cap can be posted easily because it snaps on the rear of the barrel.

If you're a fountain pen nut and live in the area, I would strongly suggest that you visit these guys. They have a terrific selection of pens in all price ranges and they're just darn nice folks too. Norman and Marilyn Stillman own the shop. They are ably assisted by a gang they simply call the "Girls". They're not just pens either. They carry several lines of jewelry (Norman has an uncanny knack of picking out pins and pendants that my daughter adores) and watches as well. You might even get a discount if you mention my name, or you might get hit too :-).

At any rate, if you're stuck trying to give a gift for someone, they should be on your list. Engravably Yours is the corner store in the Spring Valley Market Place in Spring Valley, NY. They are right off of exit 14, New York State Thruway. Bear right and you're there. They have a website:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Every once in a while......................

Along comes a photo that knocks your socks off. Such is the case with this one. I love photography and I take pictures wherever we go on vacation. I have photographed Maine vacation spots, Pennsylvania, Maryland, upstate New York, Cape Cod, Civil War battlefields, Islands in Vermont and the western shore of Maryland. I've got a photo record of my 4 years in the Coast Guard and we have numerous volumes of photos of the kids as they grew up. There are some great photos in that collection, but this one out does them all.

Initially I resisted the digital camera but have come to really appreciate it. This photo is priceless. It shows the obvious love and affection between my grandson Liam, and his father Sean. Many thanks to Christina for catching this moment on film. It is also our desktop on our computer at home.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Moh's Surgery Done!

I had an interesting procedure done to me the other day. A few weeks ago, I noticed a red spot on my skin that would not go away or diminish with the usual assortment of oils & creams. I went to the dermatologist who diagnosed it as Squamous Cell Carcinoma. It was not a surprise considering that my Mom had various bouts with skin cancer during her life. But hearing the Big "C" associated with you is nonetheless startling.
At any rate, the biopsy confirmed it and they froze it which got the top layer off. The surgeon said that they still needed to cut it out and that the Moh's procedure was the best. It was kind of interesting to say the least. They first numbed the area then took a layer off and put it under the microscope. It took about an hour to confirm yea or nay if they got all the cancer. If they did find. If not you went in for another slice taken, and so on. I was lucky, the got all mine on the first try. I have to go back to remove the stitches and do a six month check up. If everything is fine, I have to do an annual check up. She (the surgeon) said it was caused by exposure to the sun. That's odd to me since I hate the sun and stay away from it as often as possible, not to mention the fact that I've had an office job for the last 33 years. The most sun exposure I ever had was during my time in the Coast Guard when I worked outdoors all the time. But that was almost 50 years ago.
Well now I will look devilishly hansome with a 2 inch scar on my left cheek. Will just need an eye patch to complete the look. :-)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mother's Day

We celebrated Mother's Day a day early this year. My oldest and youngest kids chipped in to purchase tickets to watch an acrobatic/dance/comedy team called Galumpha up at SUNY New Paltz where my daughter lives. It was really a lot of fun and the campus at New Paltz looked very nice. Galumpha reminded me a lot of the old show on Broadway, Mummenchantz. If you ever see them slated for an area near you, I highly recommend them.

Before the show, we went to a restaurant in New Paltz called La Stazion. It was an Italian restaurant that was housed in an old rail road station depot. Nice decor and great food. Definitely a repeat adventure when we need to celebrate something else. Especially because due to time restraints we couldn't hold one of our 3 hour marathon gabby feasts which we have been known to do on many occasions.

Mom is anxiously awaiting her Mother's Day present from the West Coast Doherty's. Its going to be a drawing for her from Liam our grandchild. She'll probably have a 300.00 frame constructed for a crayon drawing :-)
On a side note, I like the area enough to consider retiring there.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Washington Redskins

My favorite sports team of all time is the Washington Redskins. My affection for the team was a gradual affair. As a college student in Virginia, they were the only local pro team so if you watched football, they were “THE” team. The more I watched them compete, the more I liked them. This was the “future is now era” with George Allen. He traded away a ton of first round draft choices to get some veterans who knew how to win and play hard on the field. The names that I recall are now legendary there was Ron McDole, Chris Hanberger, Sonny Jurgenson, Bill Brundige, Billy Kilmer, Kenny Houston Charlie Taylor, Larry Brown and on and on. What a team. Even if they lost, they fought like furies til the bitter end. You couldn’t help but love these guys.

Then of course there was the rivalries that grew out of the NFC Eastern Division. All the team seemed to play harder when they played amongst their own division and great rivalries developed. There pretty much was the Redskins vs. everyone else. But within that, you had the Redskins vs. the Giants, Giants vs. Philly, Giants Vs. Dallas, Dallas vs. the Redskins. The Cardinals never had a smash mouth rival in the NFC East which may explain why they are now on the west coast.

As the years went by, the rivalries stayed much the same, but the ‘Skins got a new coach in 81 by the name of Joe Gibbs who made the Redskins a house hold word. He won the Super Bowl three times with three separate quarterbacks; Joe Theisman, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien. Those were great years; then Joe Gibbs retired and the team tanked for quite a while. They continued to try hard, but they had issues with several head coaching changes then a new owner who is not exactly Mr. Popularity.

I particularly didn’t like the way he handled the quarterback situation this off season. Jason Campbell has been the starter for 4 years. Last year the new coach installed the West Coast offense and Jason was getting used to it and did well the first half of the season. Trouble is that the offensive line did not protect him very well and the long and short of it was that they lost 4 out of their last 5 games. In the off season the owner decided to pursue The Denver quarterback and when that didn’t pan out he went after the number one draft pick in this year’s draft. That didn’t work either so Campbell is still the starter. Personally, if I was Campbell, I’d be really p.o.ed but he has shown composure. He’s working harder so maybe this year things will get better?? Maybe because the ‘Skins didn’t do anything this off season to improve their offensive line.
Over the years, my kids also became Redskin's fans and occasionally when I was able to scarf up some tickets to Giants Stadium years ago, I would bring one of them to the game. Usually, it was a night game and cold as heck, but they were the Redskins and we got to see them play in person so it was worth it to me.

But one of the big reasons why, I will never ever stop being a Redskin’s fan is because rooting for them is quite literally the last tenuous connection I have with the Commonwealth of Virginia. I really loved it there and miss it a lot. Still rooting for the Redskins keeps a little bit of that Virginia soul within me.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


.......or so I'd like to think. I have my own opinion but let's just say things are getting very depressing around work. We are losing dozens of employees every day being laid off by the vagaries of the Economy or Bush or Obama, choose your Devil! I ride the cross town bus every morning with a half dozen or so fellow employees. Every day we do a quick survey to see if anyone got let go the previous day. So far our little bunch is intact.
I'll bet none of the idiots that caused this crisis in the first place feel this kind of angst. They probably all got golden parachutes and are lazing about. The rest of us wonder each day what's coming around the bend.
I wanted to retire early. Now it looks like I'll have to wait a couple more years and hope I make some money back that I lost. One day at a time...