Chapter 23

Opening of New York's World's Fair


      At the formal opening of the New York World's Fair on April 22, 1964 Major Fleming of the Second Company and Major Tule of the First Company, accompanied by their Staffs, Colors, and Bands took part in the ceremonies. Representing the six New England States, the Guards were selected for this unique honor by the New England Council of the World's Fair Corporation and were the only New England Units to participate. Governor Dempsey cut the ribbon at the entrance to the New England Exhibit officially opening the buildings to the public. The large parade following the opening exercises, in which the Foot Guard Companies made an impressive appearance in the Colonial Uniforms, was held in honor of, and reviewed by, the President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson.

      The Second Company received national recognition in the September, 1964, issue of "The Investigator," official publication of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A series of photographs of the 1964 Powder House Day ceremonies were so skillfully executed they were deemed worthy of national publication, together with a story of the day's significance.

      At a special meeting of the Command held on January 4, 1965, for the purpose of filling Line Officer vacancies First Lieutenant Louis B. Hardy was elected to the rank of Captain, Second Lieutenant Charles R. Gara was advanced to First Lieutenant, Ensign Salvator J. Esposito to Second Lieutenant, and Sergeant Major Harvey L. LaGassey was chosen as Ensign. First Sergeant Louis J. Cocorullo was appointed Sergeant Major by the Commandant.

      At this time Major Fleming caused the Adjutant to read a list of activities scheduled for 1965. Foremost was the trip to Washington on January 19 to participate in the inauguration of Lyndon B. Johnson as President. The annual observance of the charter grant and ceremonial ball in honor of Governor Dempsey was held on February 19. And the 190th Anniversary Celebration of the Command took place on May 22, 1965 in conjunction with the Powder House Day Ceremonies.

      The increasingly popular New Year's Day reception in honor of the Major and his Lady brought out 295 on January 1, 1966 when Major Fleming and his daughter, Laurie, were honored.

      At the regular monthly meeting, January 3, 1966, Major Fleming announced that after 27 years membership in the Second Company he would reach the mandatory age of retirement on February 24. He commented on some of the accomplishments made during his years as Major. Membership was higher than it had been in several decades and uniforms and equipment were also on a very high level, and much refurbishing had been done in the Armory's lounge, kitchen and to the drapes and furniture.

      The year 1966, was highlighted by two brilliant affairs. The first, in January, in which the entire Command acted as escort for Governor John Dempsey and Mayor Richard C. Lee, at the Mayor's Inaugural Ball, and a month later, the Annual Ceremonial Ball to honor the Chief Executive of the State.

      On February 8, Louis B. Hardy was elected Major-Commandant to succeed Major James T. Fleming. A retirement party honoring Major Fleming was held in April in which 300 attended, headed by Governor Dempsey and Mayor Lee, and high military figures. "Major Jim" had by his devotion to duty and his dedication to the principles of the traditions of the Second Company, endeared himself to his staff and enlisted men and also to those in military, political and public life, who knew him. Through his untiring efforts the Second Company had secured its position as a respected and honorable military organization.

      The Rifle Team, under Captain William Pape, which had distinguished itself many times in the past, won the Indoor Rifle Match for the Militia in the Hartford Armory on March 19.

      Many requests are received during the year for the appearance of the Second Company at celebrations throughout the State. In 1966, the Company participated in the Veteran's of Foreign Wars 14th Loyalty Day Parade in Milford; at the Middlefield Centennial; the Memorial Day Parade in New Haven, in the morning, and the East Haven Parade in the afternoon; the Barnum Festival Parade in Bridgeport; the Independence Day ceremonies honoring the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, at the gravesite of Roger Sherman, one of the signers, in Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven; the Columbus Day Parade, in New Haven; the United Nations Day Parade in Greenwich; and the Veterans Day Parade in Stamford.

      At other affairs, a Color Guard Detail and Volunteers appeared at the 35th anniversary of the Volunteer Fire Department in Durham; the 100th anniversary celebration of Olin Corporation, New Haven; a Memorial Service in the First Congregational Church, Wallingford; the opening of the Bamber Tool Company in its new plant, North Haven; and an Officer Detail did escort duty to Danny Thomas at the Ball in the New Haven Armory supporting the St. Jude Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

      It must be agreed that this is an impressive list of activities. When it is considered that, in addition, an average of 42 drills or assemblies for training are held on Monday evenings throughout each year, the many hours voluntarily contributed by the members of the Command to the service of their State, is considerable.

      The Command was saddened by the death of Captain Frederick H. Toelk on March 4, 1966. He had been a member of the Second Company for 28 years having enlisted on March 7, 1938. In 1950 he had been appointed to the Major's Staff as Assistant Commissary Officer.

      On June 12, at a Flag Day observance, a Color Detail from the Second Company served at the Elks Club. Elks lodges throughout the nation, in unison with other organizations, joined in a program to show support for democratic institutions and to protest the anti-democratic tactics employed by fanatical extremists, in the name of peace.

      The U.S. Coast Guard Academy sent a contingent of men to participate in the Powder House Day ceremonies. Rear Admiral C. R. Bender, head of the Academy, said, "It is my hope that this is the beginning of a cordial relationship between the Academy and the Second Company."

      Sixty-five members of the Second Company attended the dinner given for Mayor Richard C. Lee by the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, New Haven Chapter, in the Park Plaza Hotel.

      On June 29, death claimed Captain Charles W. Tuttle, a member of the Command for more than 50 years. His ability as an administrator was recognized by the Company when he was elected to hold both the office of Secretary and Treasurer. At the time of his death he was the oldest member of the Guard.

      Another officer, Major B. Derbacher, died in October. He had been a member of the Second Company since 1912, and rose to Bandmaster in 1946.

      The year, 1967, opened with the Annual New Year's Reception to honor Major Louis B. Hardy and Mrs. Hardy in the Company's Lounge. Two days later, Major Hardy and a Color Guard attended the Inaugural Ball for Governor John H. Chafee of Rhode Island, in Providence, at the invitation of the Kentish Guard, and the next day, on January 4, the entire Command participated in the Inaugural Reception and Ball for Governor John Dempsey in the State Armory, Hartford, at the invitation of the First Company, Governor's Foot Guard.

      The 192nd Annual Military Ball was held on February 17, and one of the largest crowds in years attended. The Battalion Review was excellent and many fine comments were received from State and Military dignitaries.

Chapter 24