Darwin James Delano

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The Lasting Example

It’s not every day that we learn about an individual who shines through, rises up, and leads on. They teach us. They guide us. They inspire us. And when their light is extinguished long before it would have run short on fuel, we’re reminded of the fragility of life and why being “friendly to all” makes all the difference.

This is the story of just such a person.


From a small town to a rustic camp – 1947 to 1960

Darwin James Delano was born on May 23, 1947, in Brattleboro, Vermont, just across the Connecticut River from where his family lived in the small town of Hinsdale, New Hampshire. When he first came home from the hospital, his maternal Grandfather looked at Darwin, decided he didn’t like that name, and called him “Tim” instead. It stuck.

Hinsdale, New Hampshire, in the late 1940s.

Tim’s father, Robert was a decorated veteran of the Second World War. He had served with the United States Naval Construction Battalion, better known as the Navy Seabees, in the Philippines where he helped build aircraft runways. He served as the Treasurer of Hinsdale for twenty years, represented the town in the New Hampshire Legislature, and served on the Cheshire County Executive Council. He was a Freemason, and a Trustee of Trust Funds in the community, along with serving in several other local civil, sports, educational, youth, and religious organizations. Robert worked for the Brattleboro Retreat as a comptroller and he worked nights as a calculator at the Hinsdale Raceway where he computed the odds for the horse races. Robert was also a Takodian, having attended camp in 1933, the same summer that Gale Phillip Newell was at Takodah. Gale would later be lost in the belly of a U.S. Navy destroyer during the harrowing Battle of Guadalcanal on November 13, 1942. Odds are that they knew each other at Takodah and both of them were lucky enough to have seen what camp looked like prior to the Great New England Hurricane of 1938.

Tim’s mother, Phyllis, worked for the Book Press and the Lindon Lodge Nursing Home in Brattleboro along with being a writer for the Greenfield Recorder. She was also highly active in local religious and town organizations and the public school system. But the family was always her primary focus so Tim grew up in the cheerful and highly supportive Delano household on Brattleboro Road along with six younger siblings: Bob, Becky, Jackie, Ken, Duff, and Randy. Phyllis had a strong sense of humor, and she was already ready with a joke or two to tell anyone who would listen. She loved to make her friends and family smile and laugh.

The home was full of awards and memorabilia from every member of the family for various sports, bands, and choir leading among many others. Both Robert and Phyllis were extremely proud of their children, and they worked hard, day in, day out, to support them and set a good example for them to follow as they carved out their own place in the world. On Sundays, after church, Robert took the kids into the woods to give Phyllis a much-needed break. They spent a tremendous amount of time outdoors and Robert would smoke a cigar while the kids played games and cooked hot dogs over a fire. Even when things got tough, including when Kenny was stricken with spinal meningitis, Robert and Phyllis worked through it and were honest with the kids about what was happening so that, together, they could know and grow as a family.

It was a wonderful and well-balanced way to raise a family. But that wasn’t just due to the people. It was also due to the place.

Postcard showing a view of Hinsdale, New Hampshire, from Cannon Hill.

In the late 1940s, Hinsdale was a lovely little rural farm town and a small center of industry for the region. It had a population of 1,762 people and 226 cows. It was home to several manufacturing firms, including the Granite State Mowing Machine Company, which made lawnmowers that were sold across the country, two machine shops, and four paper manufacturers. Paper mills were an important industry and a key source of employment in Hinsdale for many years and Tim’s father played a critical role as the General Manager at the Winchester Paper Company starting there in 1952 and working until he retired may years later. The town also had two automobile dealers, a drugstore, a furniture shop, a funeral home, a hardware store, an iron foundry, three restaurants, two general stores, and two grocery stores.

In short, Hinsdale was a thriving community.

Timmy Delano, center, at YMCA Camp Takodah in June, 1958.

Timmy, as he preferred to be called at that time, was a clean, upbeat, and positive young man with an excellent outlook on life. He was always willing to share a smile, a song, a joke, and even a harmless prank or two. He was an honor student at Hinsdale Elementary & Middle School and enjoyed working a local paper route when he wasn’t playing with his siblings and friends. Although he was always healthy and active, he did suffer from an occasional cold, mumps, and jaundice – none of which was serious, nor did it slow him down in the slightest. In fact, he was often being awarded with trophies for sports and dancing, including one for “Most Improved in All Steps” at the Hinsdale Dance Class in May 1957. That same month, Tim was accepted into Boy Scout Troop 307 in Hinsdale. He also loved flowers and gardening and he always seemed to have something fascinating growing in his room or outside around the house.

He simply never stopped going after whatever captured his curiosity.

Tim attended the first week of YMCA Camp Takodah, at 11 years old, starting on June 17, 1958. His younger brother, Bob, joined him that summer as well. Their father likely talked about Takodah at the Masonic Lodge he shared with “Uncle” Oscar Elwell, longtime camp director and county YMCA secretary.

Hobby Nook at YMCA Camp Takodah, on or around March 1, 1958, after being partially collapsed by heavy snow.

It was a busy year in at the Richmond campus as work was ongoing to support an expansion which would see camp grow to hold a record-breaking 750 Takodians, including 690 campers, 43 leaders, and 23 top staff. That spring, Hobby Nook was repaired after suffering a damaging roof and partial wall collapse on March 1st due to extremely wet and heavy snow loads. The metal tie rods, which were used to pull the walls back into place and reinforce the new roof, are still visible to this day. 1958 was also the 45th anniversary of our YMCA and it was the first time they started using the American Camping Association’s Seal of Approval. Elsie Crowninshield returned for her 24th season in charge of food preparation and kitchen management and of course Oscar and his wife, Frances, were there to oversee and direct every aspect of the operation. The Cherokee, later known as Buffalo, Division bathhouse, or “Twins” as they are known, was constructed. It opened on June 15, although we have no record of who was the first person to actually use it. The Waterfront’s wharf was straightened, resurfaced, and painted white, a new diving tower was built, and the steel pier was scraped clean and repainted.

Kitty Broman on the set for “At Home with Kitty” on WRLP.

In late May, Oscar was featured on WRLP channel 32, out of Greenfield, Massachusetts. The television program was called “At Home with Kitty” and starred local celebrity Kitty Broman and her friends. “We told the world about Takodah,” Oscar reported to the Board after the interview aired throughout New England. Around that time, camp was also featured in print editions of the Monadnock Ledger, the Peterborough Transcript, and the Keene Evening Sentinel. One parent who was quoted said “may Camp Takodah always remain as an excellent example of happy and constructive living together, as it always has been.” The Delano family would have seen one or more of these publications and programs.

A total of $5,068.95 ($54,771.58 in 2024) was donated to camp that year to cover the repairs to Hobby Nook, the wharf, and the new Twins, along with adding a stage in Memorial Lodge, four new rowboats, a new septic tank, a new roof on the office, and a new storage cabin along with other minor repairs and improvements. Everything that was done at camp was always a community effort and relied on a steady stream of small and large gifts.

Duff Delano, middle row, first on the left, at YMCA Camp Takodah in June, 1960.

The Delano kids, including Tim, Bob, Becky, Duff, and Randy loved Takodah. It was a home away from home and it was a welcomed break from the hustle and bustle of the household.

In 1959, the second year Timmy and Bob were at Takodah, once again as “Short Term” campers, a spot was chosen for the new camp store and an attached apartment. It would be completed the following year along the road to Memorial Lodge and the Waterfront at a spot where it had a lovely view of the Chapel and Cass Pond. Today it is known as Overlook, although the trees have since grown in to obscure the original wide-open view.

As 1960 came around, the third and final year that Tim was at Takodah, he was joined by Bob and Kenny. That June, Richard L. Gay and family of Ponca City, Oklahoma, donated a new 50-star flag of the United States along with a 40-foot flagpole, the same pole that is in use today. Richard had been a camper in 1923 and 1928. The new Camp Store was opened on June 1 almost on the exact spot where the original tents had been placed in 1922. They served an unending stream of ice cream that season. That season, Paul Bodurtha, a talented biology teacher from Northboro High School in Massachusetts dramatically improved the Nature Nook Program. Tim would have loved it and probably showed off his skills much to Paul’s delight. Having earned his CT3, Tim was added to the ranks of the “Blue Border Club” along with earning pins and patches for swimming, riflery, archery, cleanliness, and more

During those three special and undoubtedly fun summers, Timmy would have seen Oscar’s annual promise of Takodah being “bigger and better” come to fruition in spectacular fashion. There would have been more people, more programs, and more of the property to enjoy. And while the staff was still working to get used to having an increased number of campers to manage, Timmy never would have noticed. He was simply too busy having a grand old time and learning to do a little good each day.

Finding focus and a future at school – 1961 to 1967 

The “old” Hinsdale High, as seen in the late 1920s.

The following year, and now 14 years old, Tim was an active student at Hinsdale High, which had just over 200 students in attendance around that time and was in transition from the old school building just off Main Street to a new facility that was under construction. Starting in his freshman year, Tim was a popular class leader and regularly helped with developing new activities for the students. Tim was simply more mature than most kids his age. He had a sense of upward direction that was unusually strong. That gave him an early focus on business and politics, and he was a recognized youth leader in the community. He had decent grades, including high marks in Mathematics, General Business, United States History, and Bookkeeping. He earned trophies for sports and pins for typing awards. Tim was also an excellent soccer and baseball player, and he enjoyed skiing, candlepin bowling, and square dancing.

Following in this father’s footsteps, Tim was the treasurer of his class. He attended multiple YMCA “State Older Boys Council” Conferences with his father and brothers and acted as a mentor to his fellow students. He harnessed his green thumb and worked a part time job in a local flower shop. In fact, Tim was always up to something in the school system, in the great outdoors, in the community, and on the playing fields. He was also a writer, a poet, a hunter, a fisherman, and a charming performer.

To say he was “a man about town” feels like an understatement. He was, in many ways, “a man about the county.” Mostly, of course, he was discovering himself and developing his character as he worked to achieve his full potential. Tim loved to associate with all sorts of people, and he set the example for others to follow.

Meanwhile, Hinsdale was a long-time friendly sports rival of nearby Winchester and the two towns intermingled on a frequent basis. For example, their bowling matches were regularly covered in the local papers. In December 1963, Tim led his candlepin team to victory with Hinsdale scoring a total of 1,952 pins falls to Winchester’s 1,914. The headline simply read “High School Bowlers keep N.H. Alley Busy.” That was certainly the truth! Tim was later named President of the Hinsdale Youth Group.

Tim Delano, with the Hinsdale High Ski Club, circa 1964.

It was a similar thing on the slopes in 1964 when Tim, now Secretary of the Hinsdale High Athletic Association, competed in a two-day Class B-1 Ski Meet at Mount Sunapee. Only this time, Hinsdale took 6th place after Fred Bliss, one of the school’s most talented skiers, suffered a broken collarbone during a ski jump. That same year, Tim and his brother Bob crushed the competition when “the Hinsdale Boys,” as they were called in the Brattleboro Reformer, took a commanding lead in yet another bowling tournament. In December 1964, Tim was on stage, acting as a “Defense Attorney” in a highly successful Dramatic Club play called “Night of January 18th” in which his brother and mother also participated. This was a common occurrence in the Delano family, and they often participated in various activities together.

They were all in on everything they did, and they did it all together.

At some point during his High School years, Tim met the love of his life, Cynthia Leigh Gomarlo, from Winchester. Although she was a year younger than Tim, they got to know each other at the Community Center in Winchester which hosted social dances on Friday and Saturday nights for the local teenagers. Many marriages, including Tim’s younger brother’s marriage, came from the two towns. For Tim and Cindy, as she was called, it wasn’t just another high school crush. It would prove to be a love that would last.

In May 1965, Tim and his brother attended a reunion for Camp Takodah at the Congregational Church in Hinsdale. With over fifty Takodians gathered, “Uncle” Oscar Elwell and “Aunt” Frances shared slides and films showing how camp and grown and improved over forty three fun summers, with a special focus on the activities undertaken during the 1964 season. Song sheets were distributed, and everyone sang. Many of those songs are still sung today in the Craig Dining Hall and elsewhere around camp.

Tim Delano’s yearbook photo for the Hinsdale High School Class of 1965.

Tim graduated from Hinsdale High School on Friday, June 18, 1965. It was sunny, with temperatures in the low 70s, and a light breeze rolling through the region. It was a glorious afternoon and Tim must have felt a huge sense of accomplishment when he was handed his diploma by the school’s Principal as Cindy, his family, and dozens of friends looked on. Soon after, Tim was part of the “Queen’s Court” at the Hinsdale High Prom. It was such an exciting event and the students had so much fun that it was headline news in the local papers.

At 11:45 PM on Tuesday, June 22, 1965, a chilly and wet night, Tim, his brother Bob, Kenny Roberts, a classmate of Bob’s who was driving, and a classmate of Tim’s named Brian McCarthy, narrowly avoided serious injury when the car they were driving in spun out of control, overturned in a ditch, and was destroyed. All four of them were taken to Brattleboro Hospital to be treated for minor cuts and bruises and it was considered a small miracle that no one was killed. It was a traumatic experience but Tim, likely shaken from the terrifying experience, was quickly able to recover. He resumed his summer jobs working for Rex Higgins, his grandfather, who was a general contractor in Cheshire County, along with holding a part time job working in the kitchen and concession stand at Hinsdale Raceway.

Tim Delano at Burdett College in Boston, Massachusetts in 1966.

Their summer almost ended before it could begin, but, as a young man with near limitless energy and a seemingly unstoppable desire to succeed, Tim was immediately ready for his next challenge. He enrolled in Burdett College, in Boston, Massachusetts, starting in the fall of 1965 to pursue a degree in Degree in Business Administration, along with fostering a new fascination for geometry and chemistry. Founded in 1879, the institution, which no longer exists, was a junior college for business training, offering one- and two-year courses of study in the areas of business administration, accounting, executive secretarial, stenographic, and general business.

Robert had a keen business mentality and he had always cared for the employees of the mill who struggled to file their own taxes. He would have them come to the house where he could help them, free of charge. Tim asked a lot of questions and displayed an interest in finances and business. Robert was familiar with Burdett and it just all seemed to make good sense.

Over the course of the next two years, Tim was constantly back and forth from being at school in Boston to coming home to Hinsdale on weekends, breaks, and holidays to see the family, spend time with Cindy, and continue to work part time for his grandfather. It was the regular “college kid routine” and Tim was supported, loved, and appreciated throughout all of it. During the summer, he would have heard all sorts of fun stories from his youngest siblings who were still attending Camp Takodah and having a grand old time.

In September 1966, Tim was awarded a Certificate of Merit from the Burdett College Alumni Association for “outstanding achievement and leadership in student activities during his freshman year.” He was in a fraternity, and he served on Burdett’s Student Council. Some of his classmates joked that they doubted whether Tim ever slept as he was always going from one activity to another. While in Boston, Tim lived in a modest two-bedroom apartment with Cindy’s brother, John, who was also attending Burdett. He worked in the kitchen at Pal Joey’s Lounge, which was just down the street from where they lived, so he could make ends meet and work to support himself.

And then, he decided to take another big step forward in his life.

Cynthia Gomarlo in her engagement announcement in the Greenfield Recorder on May 20, 1967.

In May 1967, Tim asked Cindy to marry him, and she happily accepted. No date was set for the wedding as there was a lot to consider in the coming months. He and Cindy enjoyed the “summer of love” together even though it was punctuated with significant anti-war protests and violent race riots across the county, including the Grove Hall riots on June 2-3 in Boston. They likely enjoyed popular movies such as “The Graduate,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” “In the Heat of the Night,” and “Cool Hand Luke.” They listened to hits on the radio from the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and the Byrds. Gasoline was 33 cents a gallon, a movie ticket cost $1.25, and the federal minimum wage was increased to $1.40 an hour.

That summer, the Vietnam War was also rapidly expanding and before he could even start a career in business, and likely politics as well, Tim discovered that he had a draft number of 181. He knew the first 200 number holders would be drafted quickly and so he had a series of serious discussions with Robert, Phyllis, and Cindy. By joining proactively, instead of waiting to be drafted, Tim could choose his Military Occupation Specialty, known as an MOS, along with having more choice over when and where he went for three years of duty, including at least one year of active duty on deployment in Vietnam, and an additional three years of reserve duty at home. They hoped this was a safer if not shorter path to doing his patriotic duty and then getting home to develop a productive life. Seeing as Robert had served with the Seabees, he recommended that Tim aim for something similar. Regardless of how much advice he was given, it would have been a difficult and emotional decision to be made under any circumstances.

The dramatic turn to duty – 1967

Tim enlisted in the United States Army at Armed Forces Examining & Entrance Station, Manchester, NH starting with a medical “entrance examination” on July 6, 1967. His exam showed that he was in good health, with limited vision issues, and excellent hearing. He had a “medium build” and was 5’ 8” tall. He weighed in at just over 134 pounds and had brown eyes and brown hair. It didn’t take long from the time he passed his medical exam in Manchester to the time he would have to report for training. On August 31, 1967, a day or two after saying his goodbyes to Cindy and the family in Hinsdale, Tim arrived by bus at U.S. Army Receiving Station, Fort Jackson, South Carolina, at which point he took his official oath of enlistment.

I, Darwin James Delano, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.

He was given additional medical and dental exams, received a battery of vaccinations by the infamous jet injection method, and was made ready for basic training with all the uniforms and equipment he was required to care for. During this time, he also signed a folder full of paperwork including his enlistment papers, medical records, and his MOS selection. Making the most of his keen skills in accounting and bookkeeping, Tim chose “Stock Control and Accounting Specialist” (MOS-76P20). His responsibilities would include keeping track of supplies, parts, vehicles, ammunition, explosives, and associated explosive components using labor intensive manual records. Tim would eventually also qualify as a “Special Equipment Repair Parts Specialist” (MOS-76Q20) which would prove to be extremely useful once he was deployed.

Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia, during the Vietnam War.

He then boarded another bus, carrying a distinctive green duffle bag, to be transferred to U.S. Army Training Center at Fort Gordon, Georgia. He arrived on September 8, 1967, and was given the rank of Private E-1 with Company A, Battalion 4, Brigade 2. He and his fellow privates were assigned to a Quonset hut, a prefabricated structure of corrugated galvanized steel with a semi-circular cross-section similar to what the British Army used in the World Wars. It would have been like an oven in the scorching summer sun of the Southern states.

It was hot, muggy, buggy, and the installation, which encompassed tens of thousands of acres, seemed to go on forever. Basic Combat Training, as any soldier will tell you, is not easy. For Tim, those ten weeks would have been, by far, the toughest and most challenging thing he had ever experienced. It was a thorough test of his physical and mental endurance limits and yet his military records state the Tim’s conduct and efficiency was “excellent.” Basic Combat Training, as the U.S. Army says “transforms civilians into well-trained, disciplined, physically fit, and motivated Soldiers who understand the importance of teamwork. After they graduate, trainees will be well versed in the seven Army Values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.”

There is no doubt that Tim experienced a dramatic personal transformation as he underwent grueling physical training, including marching dozens of miles on foot while carrying up to 35 pounds of equipment. He faced considerable fears he as he learned to work as part of a team along with becoming emotionally, mentally, and morally resilient. Tim learned the required combat skills such as land navigation, field medical care, rifle marksmanship, how to throw grenades, how to deal with tear gas, and moving – with caution and courage – under heavy and very real live fire. He and his fellow soldiers negotiated complex obstacle courses, rappelled from a tall tower, and spent several nights in the scrubby pine forests sleeping and operating under the stars or out in the rain. They were taught how to make their bunks, how to clean their huts, and the benefits of nutrition. They became strong and proud American Soldiers.

And they were always Soldiers first. Everything else was second.

Tim Delano, in the U.S. Army. Date and location are unknown.

Once the ten weeks of basic training were done, Tim had a brief leave in Georgia and then found himself back on a bus to Army Quartermaster School Training at Fort Lee, Virginia. He arrived on November 5, 1967, and was assigned to Company B, Battalion 3, QMS Brigade, although he was granted a brief leave to return home for a weekend on November 10. Once he returned and settled in, Fort Lee is where Tim took his classroom and practical MOS training for becoming a “Stock Control and Accounting Specialist” and a “Special Equipment Repair Parts Specialist.” The rapid buildup during the 1960s to support the war in Vietnam created an urgent need for many more Quartermaster Soldiers. Fort Lee responded by going into overdrive. For a time, the school maintained three shifts, and round-the-clock training. A Quartermaster Officer Candidate School opened in 1966 for the first time since World War II. It included a mock Vietnamese “village” which was created to familiarize trainees with guerrilla tactics and the conditions in which they could expect to fight in the jungles of Southeast Asia. It’s hard to say if Tim did or did not experience that aspect of the training but he would have been aware of its existence. Part of the Quartermaster training program of that era also saw the first widespread local use of automated data processing equipment, including punched card machines from IBM. Knowing Tim’s interest in math and accounting, he would have been fascinated by the new technology, likely having never seen anything like it before.

Throughout his time in training, Tim was sending and receiving letters, packages, and phone calls to and from home while making friends and leaving a lasting impression everywhere he went. He was known for his talents as a conversationalist, a listener to the men that were struggling to succeed, and a comrade who could be counted on to arrange the occasional card game to keep the spirits up and the mind occupied. Tim was very comfortable in the military, prior to being deployed. He felt positive about it, and, as he told his brother in a letter he sent home, he seemed to fit right in. He had a natural talent for adjusting to whatever he needed to adjust to. He never worried. He just kept going.

During his time at Fort Lee, between his training and the time when he was deployed, Tim was disciplined at least twice. The first infraction was on December 9, 1967 at 2100 hours and it was for gambling, a violation of Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Article 134 “punishes, among other things, conduct which is or generally has been recognized as illegal under the common law or under most statutory criminal codes; such activity, by its unlawful nature, tends to prejudice good order or to discredit the service.” Tim, being the social magnet and ever popular player of card games on base, was “observed by Staff Sargent Sarraga gambling in Bay 221” with some other enlisted men. This was not an uncommon offense and on December 15, a decision was made that Tim had to forfeit $21 of pay and perform extra duty for a period of seven days.  This, no doubt, did not stop Tim from continuing to play cards or dice and gamble with his buddies. They likely just got better at hiding it.

Tim arrived home on November 10, 1967, for the weekend, and again on December 16, for a 16 day leave while he awaited his deployment to Southeast Asia. But, this time, it wasn’t for a little R&R. It was for something far more important.

Cynthia Gomarlo Delano, in her wedding dress, on or around December 23, 1967.

On December 23, 1967, Tim and Cynthia were married. It was a wonderful double ring ceremony performed at the South Federated Church by Revered William S. Normath complete with stunning Christmas green, red, and white poinsettias as decorations. Cindy wore a beautiful gown made of Chantilly lace with fitted bodice, long sleeves, and a full skirt ending in a train. The outfit was complete with a crown and elbow length veil. She carried a bouquet of orchids and pompoms. Tim must have been absolutely mesmerized by the sight of her coming down the aisle as Mrs. Franklin Kellon played the organ and Mrs. Francis Loftus sang “Ave Maria.” There are certain moments in our lives that make us stop to appreciate each second of what’s occurring around us. Tim had many moments like this in his life and the moment that he and Cindy exchanged their vows was unquestionably one of them. Everyone in attendance could feel how much they meant to each other.

After the wedding, the happy couple enjoyed a glorious reception at the Winding Brook Lodge in Keene. They had over 200 guests, most of whom were family members from both sides of the union. Mr. & Mrs. Delano planned to make their home in Fort Lee following an “unannounced wedding trip.” Not long after, Tim returned to duty in Virginia, where he was promoted to Private (E2) on December 31, and Cindy moved with him. As a married couple, they were assigned their own base housing.

Back home on January 19, 1968, Oscar Elwell hosted a “Hinsdale Father & Son” banquet at which he showed movies and sang lots of Takodah songs. It was at this event, that Robert and some of his boys likely attended, that he would have learned that Tim was preparing for deployment to Vietnam. However, even in the midst of their personal concerns, Duff was registered to attend camp that summer.

Tim’s training resumed around January 15, 1968, with a new focus on vehicle, equipment, and weapons repair. This would have involved week after week of hands-on training in the motor pools, in the armories, and in the classrooms as well. This work appealed to Tim’s meticulous nature and his appreciation for tackling challenge after challenge.

Standard disciplinary form acknowledging punishment. It includes Tim Delano’s handwritten initials and signature. February, 1968.

The second disciplinary instance that he experienced, though, was on February 7, 1968. Tim, now assigned to Company R, Battalion 1, QMS Brigade, violated Article 92, a “violation for failure to obey a lawful general order or regulation.” In this case, he merely failed to register his vehicle. This is another extremely common occurrence on military bases. He forfeited $10 of pay, was restricted to Company R area on base for 14 days and was given 14 days extra duty. The increase in restriction and extra duty leads to the assumption that an officer, possibly 1LT Erlan E. Wheeler, his commanding officer, was tiring of Tim’s shenanigans regardless of how harmless they might be.

Tim completed his training as a “Stock Control and Accounting Specialist” on February 19, 1968. Now he was fully trained, with multiple skills-based disciplines and combat readiness, having recently achieved the new rank of Specialist 4 or Sp/4. It was almost time to go. On February 26, 1968, Tim was officially assigned to United States Army, Vietnam (USARV), a Corps-level support command of the United States Army during the war. It all became very real, very quickly. He now knew he was going and it would happen soon. The day he went home and told Cindy must have been brutal. That is not the news a spouse wants to share or hear.

With time running out, Tim and Cindy arrived back in Hinsdale in early March 1968 for leave during which a twenty-person family dinner was held in his honor. It was Sunday, March 10. He must have regaled them with tales of basic combat training, what life is like at Fort Lee, and all sorts of hilarious stories about his fellow soldiers and commanding officers. He probably went a little further to share his trepidation about being deployed to Vietnam while expressing how much he would miss them all.

It was the last time Tim would ever see his family.

A supreme sacrifice on the far side of the world – 1968

At this point, he already knew he was being deployed later that month and it wouldn’t have been easy to say goodbye. Tim, like everyone else around him, knew the risks, no matter what job he had or where he was stationed. There were stories in the news every day about U.S. military personal being killed or injured in the war. It was his duty to go, and he was training and ready for it, but that didn’t mean it was without fear and anxiety. After exchanging long embraces and a waterfall of tears with his parents and siblings, Tim and Cindy returned to Virginia and then made their way across the country to Fort Lewis, a personnel transfer and training center, in Washington, arriving a week or so later. This is where he made the final preparations to be deployed.

Insignia of the 589th Engineer Battalion (Construction), United States Army.

On March 26, 1968, Tim was officially received and checked in to Fort Lewis and then on March 27, Tim was assigned to Company B of the 589th Engineer Battalion (Construction), 45th Engineer Group, 18th Engineer Brigade, U.S. Army Pacific. He is also given his orders for deployment. Tim would quickly learn that the 589th and its attached units, including the 553rd Engineer Company (Floating Bridge), 585th Engineer Company (Dump Truck), 511th Engineer Company (Panel Bridge), and a Well Drilling Detachment, were involved in a variety of construction projects throughout the northern half of South Vietnam. The projects included everything required of engineers in a war zone, from clearing fire support bases, to building roads and landing strips, bridges and support structures, to providing security against local Viet Cong forces. This was not a movie. This was not a novel. This was the real thing, and Tim was about play his own important part in it. According to the 589th history, edited by Don Ramsay:

The unifying thread of the unit’s effort was (highway) QL- 19. Working in conjunction with a civilian contractor, the 589th Engineer Battalion (Construction) transformed this rough, primitive road into a modern two-lane highway. Completion of this important project resulted in a substantial increase in the westward flow of supplies to the critical areas of Pleiku, Kon Tum, and Dak To, while simultaneously decreasing wear and tear on the vehicles utilizing the route. The most significant operational support mission undertaken by the battalion was the construction of a type II Light-lift airfield at Vinh Thanh. Characterized by the quality of the work and its remarkable durability, this facility is one of the best double bituminous surface treated airfields in Vietnam.

Insignia of the 18th Engineer Brigade, United States Army.

To summarize, it was hard, grueling work under extreme conditions of harsh weather, dangerous combat, and the constant threat of attack. No matter what he said or what he was told, Tim had no idea what the reality of this place or these projects would look like until he was in country. In early April, 1968, he was given orders to depart. For anyone who hasn’t experienced the mental anguish of deployment, it’s hard to imagine how difficult it must have been for Tim to be apart from Cindy. They had hardly left each other’s side since they met as budding young teenagers several years before.

Deployment to Vietnam wasn’t the same journey as deployment to Europe or the Pacific in World War Two or during the Korean War. There was not necessarily a long passage by ships, trains, and trucks. A majority of soldiers, especially infantry, were loaded onto commercial aircraft, usually a Boeing 707, and flown over. It was a relatively quick trip with almost all of the soldiers looking out the windows for their last glimpse of the homeland and their first glimpse of their new home in Vietnam. For many, it was the first time they had ever been in an airliner. From there, it was a matter of stops and hops until they reached their final destination.

Upon arrival, Tim would have felt as if he was not only far from home, but on a different planet altogether.

Airstrip in An Khê, Vietnam, as it looked around the time Tim arrived in 1968.

In mid-April 1968 Tim was assigned to his first post with the 589th as a vehicle mechanic near An Khe, where Camp Radcliff, home to the 1st Cavalry Division, was located. He worked seven days a week, 12 to 14 hours per day, with a half-day off every other Sunday. In some ways, it would have felt like he was working for a construction company instead of a military unit. In other ways, it would have been a difficult experience as a grunt living in half tents surrounded by sandbags with army cots, very few (if any) utilities, and only the occasional creature comforts from home. They ate rations, smoked cheap cigarettes, and drank poorly filtered water and black label beer.

It was tough. It was dangerous. It was exhausting.

Starting in March, Company B was working in An Khe under extreme circumstances including multiple mortar attacks in which over a dozen of the enlisted men were injured and their billets – or huts – were destroyed. They later had to build underground bunkers in which they were forced to live. This is the world that Tim had entered, and it would only get harder from there. If it wasn’t the attacks, it was the heat. If it wasn’t the hard work, it was the drowning monsoons. If it wasn’t the bugs, it was the snipers. There was always something that caused them to be on guard.

Tim Delano, standing with his M-16 in an M151A1 Jeep, in Vietnam in 1968

Soon enough, they moved west to Pleiku to build aircraft hangers, a generating station, a warehouse, a five-room school, and more. They also had to install a 110’ double-double panel bridge to redirect traffic so a permanent bridge could be built and opened to traffic on April 10, 1968. That same month, a total of eight mine incidents occurred on highway QL-19. The threat of attack was, as can be imagined, a constant shadow no matter what they did or where they went.

In July, they were still at An Khe Airfield working to complete a new parallel taxiway. Tim must have written letters home marveling at the similarities between what his father had done in the Philippines and what he was now doing in Vietnam. History, it would seem, was repeating itself in some unexpected ways. Later that month, the entire company was moved from Pleiku to Phan Rang Air Force Base in the south. The move was made in two large movements of men and equipment by land, in vehicle convoys, and by sea, in LSTs, or Landing Ships Tank. Some of them, possibly including Tim, had to go on ahead and prepare the base camp for the entire company’s arrival. Other than a rocket attack that caused minimal damage, it was a relatively smooth operation.

HHC Mess Hall for the 589th at Phan Rang Air Force Base, 1968.

Once they reached Phan Rang, they began five large construction projects that required months of work occurring nearly around the clock. They were upgrading bridges on QL-11, the construction of a base camp for two companies, setting up ammunition revetments near the beach, building Military Assistance Command facilities, and performing over 75 miles of road maintenance. During this period, there were more mining incidents and attacks from sappers (elite Communist units), mortars, and small arms fire. They also had to work on various aspects of the air base along with completing a long list of survey projects by two groups working along different parts of QL-11.

During his deployment, Tim and his family were able to send and receive cards and packages, and Tim was even able to call home a couple of times. At this point, his letters dramatically changed in tone and content. His parents found them to be excruciating, if not downright frightening, to read. They closely followed his participation in the U.S. operations during the Tet Offensive, a major escalation and one of the largest military campaigns of the war starting just before Tim arrived in Vietnam. The worrying that his parents experienced was likely unbearable, making it hard for them to ever feel confident that he wasn’t in constant and very serious danger. Once again, according to Don Ramsay,

Tim Delano, likely working in the B Company Motor Pool Office, in Phan Rang in 1968.

At times it seemed like that was the only mission, but the list above belies that misconception. There were combat roads to provide access to units it supported, maintenance of reasonably passable roads, and maintenance of roads after heavy rains and daily repair of enemy damage to roads, bridges and culverts. Enemy action against the 589th and attached units was not too heavy. Camps occasionally received mortar fire and work parties were occasionally attacked en route to and on the work sites. It was more frequent that mines of all types were discovered on the roads to and from work sites. Casualties were relatively light, but security had to be vigilant.

Now, this doesn’t mean that Tim wasn’t up to his usual activities of finding ways to have fun and keep busy. With Phan Rang AFB located not far from the coast, there was the occasional beach party, impromptu dancing to music in the motor pool, plenty of beer to drink, and games to play as the days, weeks, and months rolled on and on. As SP5 Al Carlisle said in his book “Depth of Field: An Army Photographers Year In Vietnam”:

One of the guys, an SP4, a dark headed guy by the name of Tim Delano, invites me to his card game he has in his tent most evenings after evening chow. I tell him,”yeah thanks. I didn’t have anything else planned.” I’d seen Delano around before on my trips up here, and he seems like a very likable fella. I look forward to spending the evening playing cards, rather than sweating in a hot tent, with no fan. As we leave the mess hall. I’m shown a bunker that I can go to if we are mortared or rocketed during the night. I’m reminded that this is not Headquarters; and that unlike us at Headquarters, they do get an occasional rocket or mortars dropped in this area.

Arriving at Delano’s billet, which is a lot nicer than the tent that I’m allocated to, I’m thankful he invited me. They set up a poker table and throw an army blanket over it and get out the cards, as we introduce ourselves around the table. I reach for my billfold and pull out some money, and Delano says, “What’s that for?” “Poker!… right, we are playing poker?” They laugh, “Nah… We ain’t playin’ poker, not close enough to payday for that. This is a game of pinochle. You ever play?” Another player chides in. I tell him I hadn’t, that this is a first. Delano, flashing a bright toothy smile tells me, “Not to worry. I’ll teach it to you, it’s really easy.” He introduces me to the special pinochle deck of cards, consisting of 9 through Ace.

After a few practice hands, I think I have the hang of it, and Delano suggest I play as his partner. And so it goes for the rest of the evening. Delano and I become fast friends.

Tim was granted five days of leave in October 1968 and he met Cindy in Hawaii. In a letter he wrote to his family at 2:00 AM local time on November 5, 1968, the second to last letter he would send home, Tim said:

“We had a wonderful time, the best time of my life. It was really beautiful to see, and we were happy every moment we were there. Maybe someday we can go back and enjoy it all over again.”

Tim underlined that sentence multiple times in his letter. After the trip, Cindy remained in California living temporarily with some friends as she eagerly awaited Tim’s return to the United States. In that same letter, written in black ink on pages torn from a small spiral bound notepad that he had at his desk, Tim complained that,

“We have a new 1st Sargent now and he is a real SOB. I don’t believe that he has ever smiled in his life but then you never know with some of these people.”

The work resumed in Phan Rang and days melted into each other as the construction went on and fighting intensified in the blistering heat and choking humidity. The morning of November 26, 1968, was another unremarkable day for the 589th’s B Company. One of the assignments to be completed was a routine recon mission to get photographs and record some inspection data of bridges in need of repair, south on the QL- I highway. 1Lt. Ronald John Moe recruited Al Carlisle and Tim to accompany him on the mission. Al was set to take the photos and Tim would drive the M151 ¼-ton 4×4 utility Jeep (Serial Number 2R-6924) while Ronald directed the efforts. It seemed like it would be a relatively easy mission and it would also get them off the base for the day. Going back to Al’s book, in chapter 11 he explains exactly what happened that fateful day:

Tim Delano, dancing for Robert Coy’s camera, outside of the Motor Pool at Phan Rang. (click to see full video)

Out front of the S3 office is a Jeep with Tim Delano behind the wheel. “Morning Tim, you must be the driver this morning for our little trip?” I state. “Sure am,” he says. I put my steel pot helmet and my flak jacket along with the M-16 and my 4 x 5 graphic and film on the floor behind the passenger seat. Soon we are joined by Lt. Moe. “Hey guys are you all set and ready to go?” He asks. They both answer in the affirmative. “Great, let’s get rolling, we have to be back before 1600 hrs,” he says as we go. “Yes sir and I have to be back in time for guard duty tonight,” I retort.

The first bridge we come to is just on the outskirts of the city of Phan Rang. We pull off to the side and Lt. Moe and Tim work together with a measuring tape and get dimensions and Lt. Moe writes them in his book. I take pictures of the areas of the bridge that Lt. Moe feels are important. I devise a method of photographing the bridge and identifying it with notepaper. I use a grease pencil and write the number one on the notebook paper; and I either prop it up in the picture or Tim holds it. And so it goes as we continue down QL-1.

Lt. Moe is an affable guy with short cropped black hair and his square chin and a quick smile. I had seen him at different times around various worksites, but never really had an opportunity to talk to him till now. As we travel, we break the monotony with conversation. I asked him where he’s from back in the states. ‘I’m from big sky country, Montana,” he continues, “and a town you never heard of,” he pauses, and then says,” Anaconda.” “Like the snake,” I ask. He nods his head in agreement. “Yup, like the snake.” I tell him I’m from the Denver area of Colorado and our house was right at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Again, he responds with a broad grin, “Yeah, I really miss those mountains.”

SP5 Alvin B. Carlisle, U.S. Army, 589th Engineer Battalion, at Phan Rang in 1968.

“How is you’re pinochle game these days, Carlisle?” Tim asks. “I haven’t played since the last time you and I played up at the NCO club.” “By the way,” I continue, “I haven’t seen you around lately. What have you been doing?” “Just got back from visiting the wife in Hawaii on my five day R&R,” he says. “Had the best time of my life and my wife writes me and said she might be pregnant,” you can hear the delight in his voice. Lt. Moe then asked Tim where he’s from, since he has a little bit of an accent. Tim tells him, “I’m from Hinsdale, New Hampshire,” and thus the hint of a New England accent. Funny, I think to myself, I never noticed his accent.

The high afternoon is blistering and Tim cakes off his fatigue shirt leaving just his white T-shirt on. I take my flak jacket off too, but leave my shirt on since I have no under shirt on. We reach a long straight stretch of road when Lt. Moe says, “Tim, go down just past the curve ahead and stop we’ll have some C- rations then head back.” We both acknowledge we understand and are happy to head back to base. Lt. Moe also says as we near the curve, “Be alert guys; this is known VC territory.” “Known VC territory!” I think to myself. Then what the hell are we doing out here alone?

1LT Ronald John Moe, U.S. Army, 589th Engineer Battalion, B Company.

Just as Lt Moe commanded, we continue down the road to where it makes a sharp turn to the right and continue to an area where we can pull off to the side of the road. The traffic has been very light; mostly motorcycles and a few buses have been all the vehicle traffic we have seen. This section of highway parallels the shoreline of the South China Sea and is quite picturesque, as we eat our meager GI lunch and make small talk. In the distance I observe, with interest, a small fishing village which adds to the tranquility of the moment. I take a couple of pictures for my own personal use and promise to give Tim and Lt. Moe copies when I get them developed.

Having finished our C-rations we resume our positions in the Jeep and prepare for the trip back. I ask Tim if he wants me to drive and let him sit back here for the trip back. “No, I’d rather drive,” he counters so I settle in behind him and try to find a comfortable spot. I feel like I have my knees up around my shoulders. But I have all his stuff back there sharing the back seat. I’ll just close my eyes. Just then an F-100 (fighter jet) thunders past us, flying lower than I had ever seen. We watch it disappear in the distance. There is no traffic, and the only noise is that made by our jeep; we are alone in our thoughts, and dreams.

Silence is broken by a sudden and loud crack as if a firecracker had gone off next to my head. Everything immediately goes into slow motion and simultaneously the front of the Jeep leaps with flames. Tim’s head jerks back and with his hands covering his face yells, “Oh God!” Lt. Moe at that same moment leans to his right and just falls out of the Jeep, almost gracefully. I find myself lying next to the Jeep struggling to gather my thoughts; my first instinct is that we had gone over a landmine. Just then I hear the staccato of automatic weapons fire and loud Vietnamese chatter. I’m gripped with fear as I evaluate the situation now. This is not just a land mine, but an ambush.

“Gotta move, Carlisle,” I think to myself. I try and reach up into Jeep for my weapon, but the fire forces my hand away. “I know Tim’s dead and they have shot and killed Lt. Moe, and now they are coming for me,” I sense.

I make the decision to crawl into the shallow ditch next to the road and make my way away from the Jeep for I also fear the Jeep might explode as drops of oil are on fire and ignite the dry grass. After a few meters of crawling on my belly, I turn over on my backside in time to see to two VC; the one nearest me is clad in khaki shorts and black shirt and bush hat, the other farther from me wears black shirt and black shorts and is bare headed, crossing the road and firing at the Jeep. I hear the rounds as they impact the metal shell of the jeep, the nearest one to me spots my movement and turns towards me his weapon already pointed in my direction as he hip fires. I see the muzzle flash from his AK.-47 and I wait for the copper jacketed lead rounds to find their mark. My body tenses as I prepare for what is coming.

“This is it Carlisle you’re a dead man, God, please make it fast and painless… I wonder how mom will react when she gets the news and Pat my dear Pat… I love you.”

Nothing, I feel nothing so with a burst of energy I turn and run across the railroad tracks and up into the brush along the rocky slope of the hill that parallels the road. I still hear firing but it doesn’t seem to be directed at me. I’m scurrying up the side of the mountain wanting to put as much distance between me and the smoking Jeep as possible. I keep my eyes open for any movement in the thick brush as well. I take a moment satisfied I am no longer being chased and I examine myself; there is blood on my hands and arms and shirt, but I don’t feel any pain. I open my shirt and to my delight I see there are no holes.

I immediately realize that the blood I see on me is Tim’s.

However, something is not quite right with my right knee I must’ve bumped it on a rock or twisted it when I ran away, I think. I begin to examine my right knee and notice a small hole in my pant leg. Now the pain gets intense as I realize I’ve been wounded though I’m not sure if it’s from the explosion or gunshot. I tear open the pants to see a dime sized red dot at my right knee just to the left of my kneecap. It is bleeding rather profusely, and now the deep burning pain takes hold of me. I take off my T-shirt and rear a strip off for a bandage. I take a moment and try and assess the situation. Lt. Moe’s prophetic warning echoes in my head, and here I am unarmed, and alone in the middle of VC territory miles from base. I thought that this could be my last day on earth certainly crosses my mind. And for a brief moment I find myself almost envying Tim and Lt. Moe for them it was over in the second that I trust without pain. “Don’t panic, think about your next move,” I assure myself.

Remains of the M151A1 Jeep (#2R6924) that Tim Delano was in at the time he was killed in action on November 26, 1968.

Al eventually made it back to the base at Phan Rang but Tim, along with 1Lt. Moe, was killed in action on November 26, 1968, in Ninh Thuan province of Vietnam. He was 21 years old. The wrecked Jeep and the bodies, which were burned beyond recognition, were recovered and returned to the base the next day. The news immediately rippled through B Company and the rest of the 589th. It had a tremendous impact on the men. A religious service was held at 8:00 PM on November 28, 1968, by Chaplain James E. Rogers in the Battalion Chapel. Most of the men of B Company were in attendance.

They had lost more than a fellow soldier. They had lost a friend. It was dreadful.

Cindy and Tim’s parents were notified, simultaneously, of Tim’s death on the morning of November 29 by Western Union telegram. It stated, in part:

The Secretary of the Army has asked me to express his deep regret that your (husband or son) Specialist Four Darwin J. Delano died in Vietnam on 26 November 1968 as a result of burns received while driver of a military vehicle returning from combat operation when the vehicle hit a hostile mine. Please accept my deepest sympathy.

The telegrams were signed by Kenneth G. Wickham, Major General, United States Army.

Western Union form letter telegram that Robert & Phyllis Delano received on November 29, 1968, notifying them that their son had been killed in action in Vietnam.

After reading the telegram and suffering a tremendous shock, Robert and Phyllis gathered their children, along with Cindy, in the kitchen at home and broke the awful news, which was already rapidly spreading through Hinsdale. It took the air right out of the room, and they were all understandably horrified. They cried. They hugged. They struggled with their grief, and they faced the sheer disbelief that Tim was gone. Coincidentally, they received Tim’s last letter home on the same day they were notified of his death. Tim told them he was disappointed that President Richard Nixon, whom he deeply admired for many years, had called a halt to the bombing because “it was obvious to the U.S. fighting men that the enemy was building up for a new offensive.” The last sentence of his unsigned letter said that he was preparing to go out into the field.

He would have been home in 118 days. He had been counting them down by marking them off on a calendar.

The loss of their eldest son was absolutely devastating to the Delanos and it rocked the solid foundation of their family which had been carefully crafted over the decades. It would take them a long time to process his loss, and even longer to accept it. Robert was able to work though the sorrow, but Phyllis was completely devastated, and it permanently changed her. Cindy must have felt like she was set adrift in a stormy sea. Her anguish was totally overwhelming. Her world had stopped.

Tim was the twenty second casualty from Cheshire County in the war, the second from Hinsdale.

Within hours of receiving the news, Robert contacted James C. Cleveland, who was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New Hampshire’s 2nd district, serving from 1963 to 1981. He asked the Congressman to help the family get in touch with Master Sergeant Harris O. Higgins, Tim’s Uncle, who was serving with the U.S Marines in Vietnam at that time. He would be asked to collect and escort Tim’s remains back to the United States and then home to Hinsdale. Congressman Cleveland assured Robert he would honor the request and the next day, the wheels were in motion with calls going out from Westover Air Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts to various places and bases in Vietnam until Master Sergeant Higgins was located and assigned as Official Military Escort for Tim’s remains.

Of course, he immediately accepted the mission. That, too, must have been a tremendous personal shock.

On Sunday, December 1, 1968, the local VFW Post, #4234, which Robert was a member of, draped their Charter in black in honor of Tim. The solemn marking was undertaken by Post Commander Stanley Boroski with Chaplain Robert Gibson and Past Commander Michael Bolden assisting. Tim’s calling hours at O’Connor Memorial Funeral Home were observed on Sunday, December 8, 1968. The line for mourners to pay their respects seemed to stretch on forever. His funeral service took place on Monday, December 9. It was, at the time and likely still to this day, the largest in the history of Hinsdale. It was held at United Church of Christ at 2:00 PM. The burial, with full military services, took place at Pine Grove Cemetery soon after. There was an honor guard from the 272nd Maintenance Battalion and a firing squad from the 400th Transportation Company out of Fort Devins in Massachusetts under the command of Lt. Jerry Fox of the 172nd Graves Registration. Master Sergeant Higgins bravely presented the Flag of the United States to the widow on behalf of a grateful nation. There were delegations from Burdett College, AIC, The Brattleboro Retreat, Book Press, the Hinsdale High School Class of 1965, and many more. Relatives and friends attended from across New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut.

Official White House Cover sheet that accompanied the letter Robert Delano sent to President Richard Nixon in April, 1969.

According to a letter that Robert wrote to President Nixon on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1969, “college kids from all corners of the globe sent messages or attended in person.” There is little doubt that several Takodians were in attendance as well. Unfortunately, the Elwells, who were severely injured in a near fatal car accident on September 29, 1968 that left them hospital bound for several months, could not make it. The Delano kids would personally visit them at Elliot Community Hospital the day after Tim’s funeral to deliver the awful news.

Tim is the only Takodian specifically mentioned by Oscar in our records who was lost in Vietnam, even though many others served, and some may have been lost.

Al Carlisle would later write that:

I had a dream the night before my departure for Nha Trang. In it, Tim came to me, his body shrouded in a greenish translucent aura. I felt at ease in his presence, though he did not speak audibly to me, the message conveyed to me was: “I’m OK; there was no pain, live your life.” An immediate peace came over me, and I slept uninterrupted for the first time since the ambush.

Lest we forget – 2024

There is a sign on Dickinson Lane, the road into Camp Takodah, that says “future world and local leaders at play.” We have no doubt that if Tim had returned to his life in New Hampshire, by now we would probably know him as Chairman Delano, Governor Delano, Senator Delano, or beyond. He would have been a father, a friend, a coach, a guide, a philanthropist, and a volunteer. He was always ready to help others at some cost to himself because he never stopped looking for chances to do a little good each day. Tim was on a clear and obvious trajectory to accomplish incredible things in his life but, as is the case for so many young people from our society, war intervened and changed the course of history.

Sign on Dickinson Lane at YMCA Camp Takodah.

But that doesn’t mean Tim’s sacrifice was without merit or importance. On the contrary.

We often think of heroism in war as what we see in the movies. We see the infantry. We see the pilots. We see the action. We see the drama. What we need to remember is that anyone who serves in the military – in any place, at any time – is a hero. We must remember them all, including the mountain movers, the bookkeepers, the mechanics, and the engineers. We must remember those who pave the roads so the military can always be on the advance, and we must remember those who construct the buildings that keep them safe at night.

Tim Delano was no exception. He, too, was a hero in his own right. In many ways, for his family, the people of Hinsdale, and for Takodians all, he was a hero long before he ever went overseas.

May the example he set live on forever.


Tim Delano’s Purple Heart on display at YMCA Camp Takodah on Friday, May 19, 2023

Specialist Four Darwin James “Tim” Delano, United States Army, is interred at Pine Grove Cemetery in Hinsdale, New Hampshire. He is remembered on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. on Panel 38W, Line 065. He was awarded the following medals:

  • Purple Heart
  • Bronze Star
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Vietnam Campaign Medal
  • Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
  • U.S. Army Presidential Unit Citation
  • U.S. Army Good Conduct Medal
  • Sharpshooter badge
  • Military Merit Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal with Four Stars
    • Phase VI: Tet Counteroffensive 30 Jan 68-1 Apr 68)
    • Phase VII: Tet Counteroffensive 2 Apr 68-30 Jun 68)
    • Phase VIII: Tet Counteroffensive 1 Jul 68-1 Nov 68)
    • Phase IX: Tet Counteroffensive 2 Nov 68-22 Feb 69)


This story is dedicated to all who serve and to those who shall remember. Live that the sunset may find you.


Tim Delano’s first registration card for YMCA Camp Takodah in 1958. It is signed by him and his father along with markings (i.e.: “Pd” or “Paid”) likely made by Marty Fisher, YMCA Camp Takodah’s long time Registrar. This is how most of our historical research on individual alumni starts. We start with their registration cards, all of which are stored in our Lake Street Archive. We verify the years they were at camp and then the investigative work can begin. It truly takes a village make projects like this come to fruition.


  • The Delano Family
  • 589th Engineer Battalion Association (Vietnam)
  • 589th Engineer Battalion Quarterly Operational Reports – Lessons Learned
  • “589th Engineer Battalion (Construction) Engineers at War, An Operational Summary” (1967-1971)
  • “Depth of Field: A Photographer’s Year in Vietnam” by Al Carlisle
  • Alan Rumrill & the Historical Society of Cheshire County
  • Cathy Johnson & the Hinsdale Public Schools
  • Sharron Smith & the Hinsdale Historical Society
  • Town of Hinsdale Annual Reports
  • Takodah YMCA Lake Street Archives
  • Takodah YMCA Digital Archives
  • National Archives and Records Administration
  • Library Of Congress
  • United States Army
  • Newspapers.com
  • Wikipedia
  • PennLive
  • Crossville Chronicle
  • The Portland Beacon
  • Google Maps
  • Weather Underground
  • Scholar Commons
  • Virtual Wall
  • Find A Grave
  • iBrattleboro
  • Together We Served
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
  • Interviews with
    • Sarah Delano
    • Bob Delano
    • Perry Blanchfield (589th)
    • Fred Buyze (589th)
    • Peter Tamas (589th)


Tim Delano’s name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., Panel 38W, Line 065.


  • The Delano Family
  • 589th Engineer Battalion Association (Vietnam)
  • “Depth of Field: A Photographer’s Year in Vietnam” by Al Carlisle
  • Historical Society of Cheshire County
  • Town of Hinsdale
  • Takodah YMCA Lake Street Archives
  • Takodah YMCA Digital Archives
  • National Archives and Records Administration
  • Newspapers.com
  • Robert Coy (589th)
  • Barnaby W. Bosanquet


If you are interested in learning more about a veteran of the United States Military, you can start by submitting an SF-180 “Request Military Personnel Records” to NARA.

Looking for the “Lost Takodians” WWII veteran research? Click here to visit the main project page.

If you have any corrections, updates, or requests for edits to this biography, please contact the author.