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Claremont to Add Name to War Memorial

  • Don MacIsaac, of Jaffrey, N.H., left, and Roger Monette, of Peterborough, N.H., right, pause over a picture of James Mozden, of Claremont, N.H., at the Common Man in Claremont after a memorial service for Mozden Monday, March 17, 2014. Last week, the Claremont City Council voted to allow Mozden's name to be added to a monument in Broad Street Park.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Don MacIsaac, of Jaffrey, N.H., left, and Roger Monette, of Peterborough, N.H., right, pause over a picture of James Mozden, of Claremont, N.H., at the Common Man in Claremont after a memorial service for Mozden Monday, March 17, 2014. Last week, the Claremont City Council voted to allow Mozden's name to be added to a monument in Broad Street Park.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Don MacIsaac, of Jaffrey, N.H., right, leads family, friends and former classmates of James Mozden of Claremont in a memorial for the Vietnam veteran in St. Mary Cemetery in Claremont, N.H., on his birthday, Monday, March 17, 2014. MacIsaac was a classmate of Mozden in West Point's class of 1964. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Don MacIsaac, of Jaffrey, N.H., right, leads family, friends and former classmates of James Mozden of Claremont in a memorial for the Vietnam veteran in St. Mary Cemetery in Claremont, N.H., on his birthday, Monday, March 17, 2014. MacIsaac was a classmate of Mozden in West Point's class of 1964.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Claremont native James Mozden, of Claremont, died  in 1973, after completing two tours in the Vietnam War, of cancer caused by Agent Orange, Monday, March 17, 2014. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Claremont native James Mozden, of Claremont, died in 1973, after completing two tours in the Vietnam War, of cancer caused by Agent Orange, Monday, March 17, 2014.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Don MacIsaac, of Jaffrey, N.H., left, and Roger Monette, of Peterborough, N.H., right, pause over a picture of James Mozden, of Claremont, N.H., at the Common Man in Claremont after a memorial service for Mozden Monday, March 17, 2014. Last week, the Claremont City Council voted to allow Mozden's name to be added to a monument in Broad Street Park.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Don MacIsaac, of Jaffrey, N.H., right, leads family, friends and former classmates of James Mozden of Claremont in a memorial for the Vietnam veteran in St. Mary Cemetery in Claremont, N.H., on his birthday, Monday, March 17, 2014. MacIsaac was a classmate of Mozden in West Point's class of 1964. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Claremont native James Mozden, of Claremont, died  in 1973, after completing two tours in the Vietnam War, of cancer caused by Agent Orange, Monday, March 17, 2014. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Claremont — Under brilliant sunshine that was no match for the biting cold, about 20 people gathered on Monday for a brief memorial service at the gravesite of James Mozden, a Stevens High School and West Point graduate who died three years after returning home from his second tour of duty in Vietnam.

“We are having our 50th class reunion in May so we are trying to get out to visit the graves of our deceased classmates,” said Donald Macisaac, who lives in Jaffrey, N.H., and graduated with Mozden from West Point.

Not only was Monday Mozden’s birthday — he would have been 72 — but the service at St. Mary’s Cemetery was held just days after the City Council voted to add Mozden’s name to the city’s war memorial in Broad Street Park.

“That means so much to me,” said Mozden’s widow, Mary Jo (Mozden) St. Peter, after the service. “I didn’t know about the monument. I’m touched.”

Mozden served two tours of duty in Vietnam — 1966-67 and 1969-70 — earning the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He died in January 1973 from cancer that his family has said was caused by contact with Agent Orange while in Vietnam.

The Veterans Administration has recognized that certain types of cancer are associated with exposure to Agent Orange, a defoliant used in the war, and other herbicides during military service.

The council agreed to add Mozden’s name to the monument, which honors those who died in the country’s wars since World War I.

City Councilor Charlene Lovett led the effort on behalf of the Mozden family after James Mozden’s niece, Kim Chewning contacted her. Chewing’s father, Stanley Mozden, James’ brother, also served in Vietnam.

“There is a Mozden legacy in Claremont and he was part of that legacy. I want to make sure he is remembered,” Chewning, of West Lebanon, said at the service.

Others recalled Mozden’s genuine optimism, strong character and love for his hometown.

“It was a real pleasure to know him,” said Nick Loukianoff, a West Point classmate who roomed with Mozden during the first few months at the Academy. “He was one of a kind, an honest and true friend and we loved him dearly.”

Loukianoff, a real estate developer in the San Francisco, so respected his friend that he named a street after him in California, Macisaac said.

“Jim was part of a military brotherhood. He was a great brother, son, husband and friend and was gregarious and passionate about what he did,” said Macisaac.

Stan Mozden recalled his brother’s devotion to the Red Sox and his persistence in trying out for Stevens athletic teams.

“My brother had a real sense of humor and was always thinking positive,” said Stanley. “He never stopped trying.

I couldn’t be more thankful to all of you for coming here on this kind of day.”

Mozden died on Jan. 25, 1973 but on the day he was to be buried in Claremont with full military honors, a blizzard struck and many were unable to attend. Twenty-six years later, in June 1999, Mozden received the burial honors thanks primarily to Carol Grant, of Atkinson, N.H., and the mother of a West Point graduate. Grant fulfilled a request from Mozden’s mother, Cecelia, who always wanted to give her son a proper military burial. Cecelia Mozden died before the 1999 service.

On Monday, Grant, whose son has served in Afghanistan and Iraq, was pleased to hear of Claremont’s decision on the monument.

“That is just wonderful of them,” she said in a phone interview.

Lovett also noted to the council last week there is precedent for adding Mozden’s name. She said in her research, she discovered that Civil War veteran Samuel Carleton, who died in 1867 from wounds suffered during the war, had his name inscribed on the Civil War Monument. Lovett also told the council that she learned Lance Cpl. Robert Finan was killed in action April 16, 1969 in Vietnam but his name, which is on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., was never inscribed on the city’s monument. Finan’s name will be added to the city’s monument as well.

Lovett told the Mozden family James would have his name on monument before Memorial Day.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.