On Saturday, November 21, Brattleboro’s American Legion Post 5 will honor local soldiers killed in action during the Vietnam War.
A ceremony, at the post home on Linden Street, will include students from Brattleboro Union High School reading the names and a brief biography of each of the 11 men, followed by a brief address by Dr. Robert Tortolani, a combat battalion surgeon during the Vietnam War.
The soldier biographies, along with family photos, will be posted on the Brattleboro Historical Society website, in succession, in the days leading up to the November 21 event.
Today we remember 1LT William John Bassignani.
January 21, 1943 – August 18, 1969
Bill Bassignani grew up in Newfane and Brattleboro VT. He graduated from St. Michael High School where he was an excellent student and basketball and baseball player. During his time, St. Mike’s basketball teams won 21 games in the 1960 season and 40 straight wins over a two year period. He then went to UVM.
Bill enlisted in the Army and was deployed to Korea. When on leave in Brattleboro, he started to date Anna Friel, the love of his life.
Bill was transferred to Ft. Collins and then to Ft. Devens to be near Anna. Bill and Anna were married on June 26, 1965.
Sgt. Bassignani was stationed at Ft. Bragg and then selected to attend OCS at Ft. Benning.
Bill was commissioned a 2nd Lt. and trained as a helicopter pilot in Mineral Wells TX and received advanced helicopter training at Savannah GA. On December 11, 1968, Lt. Bassignani was deployed to Vietnam. Bill served in I Corps in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He spent his R&R with Anna in Hawaii.
Bill was stationed at Landing Zone English. Pilots were re- quired to fly 85 missions – Bill did many more. His chopper was blown out of the sky by a rocket propelled grenade on August 18, 1969. Bill was killed. In addition to the usual medals, Bill was awarded the Bronze Star and a multitude of oak leaf clusters for his heroism.
Bill is survived by his wife who now resides in West Brookfield, MA; his sons Peter and Derek; and grandchildren: William, Gabriella and Joshua.