Shirley Pyrdol still remembers her mother screaming that terrible day in 1951 when military officers came knocking on her Slate Hill Road farmhouse door and told them her big brother Richard A. Buttery had been killed in the Korean War.
“Whew … I can still hear her,” Pyrdol said from her winter home near Boynton Beach, Fla.
She was 12 that fateful day when the Marine corporal was killed in action on June 3, 1951, near Yanggu, Korea.
“My mother always wanted to do something in front of his school to remember Richie,” Pyrdol said. Hazel Buttery died in Connecticut at the age of 106, with that wish unfilled.
As a result of a conversation last summer with town of Sharon Supervisor Anthony Desmond, and plans by local American Legion Post 1269 Commander David C. Costello, fundraising for a monument to Cpl. Buttery is under way. Two large granite slabs will be engraved with Buttery’s name and battle information, Costello said. He is the only known Sharon resident to die during the Korean War.
A second wing of the monument will bear the names and information of the four local Army soldiers who died during World War II.
The monuments will be added to the existing stone and bronze plaque bearing the names of local World War I veterans in front of Sharon Springs Central School facing U.S. Route 20 in the village.
At one time there was an old wooden marker on the site listing local World War II servicemen, Desmond said, but that was lost years ago.
The World War II Army veterans to be memorialized are Sgt. Walter Sall, Pvt. Howard Slater, Lt. Andrew Empie and Cpl. Lawrence Stephens.
They all attended the Sharon Springs school.
Except for Sall, who died in a 1942 plane crash in Alabama, the bodies of none of the other WWII vets were returned from overseas. Sall is buried near Ames, in Montgomery County, according to Desmond.
Legion members are still seeking information about the servicemen to add to an already thick notebook on the memorial project.
“The project is going very well,” said Desmond, who is the finance and membership officer with the local American Legion post. He said school officials have also been supportive.
Desmond said “the Legion itself has about $6,500 saved over the years, and the majority of that will go to the memorial.”
By the time it’s installed, the monument is expected to cost between $18,000 and $20,000, according to Costello.
During a recent visit to the village, state Senator James L. Seward, R-Milford, and Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie, were briefed on the project.
Hearing about Buttery’s mother’s dreams for a memorial, Seward called it “a great human interest story.”
“That woman lived to 106 and still didn’t see it,” he said.
Seward and Lopez suggested the Legion apply for possible state assistance as a community project in the 2008-09 state budget.
Although Desmond said the Legion was counting primarily on grass-roots donations, he said they have applied for $5,000 in assistance through Lopez and Seward.
The old Buttery dairy farm is long gone, after the barn and house burned, Pyrdol said.
Cpl. Buttery is buried in the family plot in the rural Slate Hill cemetery.
For a time, their father, Herman Buttery Sr., ran a former Texaco gas station on Route 20 near the intersection of state Route 145.
Around 1956, Pyrdol said the family moved back to West Haven, Conn. She and her sister Faye Rudnicki now winter in Florida and summer in Connecticut. A brother, Herman Jr., is deceased.
The sisters still visit friends in Sharon Springs. “We keep in touch,” Pyrdol said.
She plans to be on hand for this Memorial Day ceremonies. The new monument isn’t expected to be in place until Memorial Day 2009, Costello said, but the existing bronze plaque and stone will be professionally cleaned for this May’s events.
Over the next year, plans are to add two new granite wings to the existing World War I memorial on the school grounds. The monument will be designed and made by Dan Viscosi of Cherry Valley Memorials Inc.
In the future, plans are to add paving stones engraved with names of other military veterans to a walkway, Costello said.
The extended Buttery family, including grandchildren, is expected to gather to see the new memorial when it’s completed in May 2009, Pyrdol said.
The sisters have already seen a sketch of the preliminary design. “We’re so excited,” Pyrdol said Friday. “It’s a shot in the arm for the village and the town,” Costello said.
“All the relations [of the fallen servicemen] will now have something to look at and remember they’re not forgotten.”
Donations to the Richard A. Buttery Memorial Fund may be sent to American Legion Post 1269, PO Box 273, Sharon Springs, NY 12459.
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