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Homer Lee Wise: Truly a Man of Honor

The Stamford Advocate - September 21st, 2008
Homer Lee Wise: Truly a Man of Honor
By Don Russell Columnist, The Advocate
Homer Lee Wise is a name that should be remembered. Master Sgt. Wise fought in World War II. He single-handedly rescued one of his fellow infantrymen from certain death when he left a safe place to get to the seriously wounded comrade. Bullets were flying all around him but he prevailed and got his fellow soldier into a safe haven. For the bravery and valor that he displayed, Homer Lee Wise of Baton Rouge, La. received the highest honor awarded the military, the Medal of Honor.

I remember when Master Sgt. Wise arrived in Stamford to take over the Army recruiting duties. And how fortunate we were to be able to welcome this unassuming, quiet man to the community. Homer Wise fit right in to the community.

He did not blare all over town that he was awarded the highest honor his country bestowed for bravery. I got the feeling that he thought he was only doing his duty on that battlefield that was alive with crossfire. He quietly went about his assignment and soon was having morning coffee with the group at Chat N' Chew across the street from the Old Town Hall.

My family and the DiSesa family have been friends for years. On Sundays when I was a youngster, we always retired to First Street, where the DiSesa house still stands, by the way, to play and enjoy the refreshments that were always served.

The DiSesas brought two daughters into this world, Jeanette and Madeline. They were quiet and attractive young ladies. They were dutiful daughters who when they became of age were hard working and productive. Each summer, we all met at one of Stamford's beaches - the Anderson Beach Club - to swim and picnic. Many years have passed since then.

When the war ended and Homer Wise came to town, he was a constant visitor to the local radio station, WSTC, where I worked at the time. He personally dropped off the public service announcements encouraging young men to enlist in the peacetime Army. But once again, the conversations were always about his assignment and not the high honor he had been awarded by the President of the United States. On one of those visits he told me that he was dating a person with whom I was acquainted. It was Madeline DiSesa.

They were married and started life anew in Stamford. It was now Homer's adopted hometown. He became an interested citizen and participated in the course of human events. He joined a service club. In short, Homer Lee Wise was now a participant in making the lives of the less fortunate somewhat better.

Master Sgt. Wise passed away in his adopted city in 1974. He was 57 years old. As was finally revealed, he was among the most decorated soldiers of World War II. He was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts and eleven other decorations.

As the years passed there was talk around town about dedicating a park in his honor, much like Latham Park was dedicated in memory of Capt. Jack Latham, Stamford's only other Medal of Honor recipient, who was honored for his bravery in World War I. That was finally accomplished and the park named in Sgt. Wise's honor is at the corner of Chester and Bedford Streets.

Last winter, I was contacted by James Vlasto, who heads up a committee to fund the creation of a bronze statue of Homer Wise that will stand at the corner of Bedford and Chester streets. At the time Mr. Vlasto contacted me he only had the germ of the idea, but now it is coming to fruition. The sculptor, Janice Mauro, of Redding has been chosen to create the likeness of Master Sgt. Wise.

It is important to remember the men and women who have served this nation with honor and bravery. Master Sgt. Homer Wise was one of them.
Don Russell is a columnist for The Advocate. His e-mail address is HvyWrtr@aol.com.

2008 Southern Conn. Newspapers, Inc.

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Homer Wise PortraitThe Homer L. Wise Memorial, Inc at the Mayor's office in Stamford. From left, Tony Pavia, Jean Rinaldi, Homer's niece, Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia and James S. Vlasto Secretary Treasurer and Project Director, with three foot replica of the statue which is now nearing completion at its full length of six feet three inches. (Photo credit: Matthew Vinci, Stamford Times)
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Homer Wise Portrait

"The Story of an Infantryman"

As the battle tested veterans of Company L, 142 Infantry, and 36th Division probed the outskirts of Magliano, Italy on the morning of June 14, 1944 they knew that the German soldiers facing them were strongly entrenched. The men of the 36th had met this enemy before, in Africa, on the bloody beaches of Salerno and in all the bitter battles in Italy.

Leading one of the platoons was a slim Tech Sergeant known to his men as "Blackie" was Homer L. Wise and he had served with the 36th Division since its inception.
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Homer Wise PortraitConnecticut's only living Medal of Honor recipient announced today he will become a member of the Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee.

Paul W. Bucha of Ridgefield, CT was awarded the Medal of Honor while serving as a captain and commanding officer of Company D, 3rd Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, on March 18, 1968 in Vietnam.
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