One of Amsterdam’s proudest legacies are the men and women from this community who served in the US Armed Forces. That legacy extends all the way back to 1776 and includes participation in every major armed conflict that has taken place since. In this Bonus List I profile ten Amsterdam veterans from ten different wars. I preview the first two of those profiles below:
Korean War – Frank Cassetta grew up on Mathias Avenue. He enlisted in the US Army in 1951 and was sent to fight in Korea the following year. Promoted to Master Sergeant while there, on December 23, 1952 he was one of the leaders of an assault force about to attack a heavily fortified enemy hill near Sataeri, a city situated just to the northern side of the present day border between North and South Korea. As the patrol was moving up a narrow valley to position itself for the attack, one of the soldiers tripped an explosive device, alerting the North Koreans of their location. Frank’s patrol came under intense fire and was greatly outnumbered. As the American soldiers scrambled, they triggered another booby trap and with enemy grenades and small arms fire pouring down on them from both sides of the valley, their situation became bleak. Though Frank had been wounded himself, he made two, not one, two perilous trips back into the field of fire to retrieve injured comrades and bring them to safe cover. He then returned to direct friendly fire against the enemy positions and realizing that additional support was essential, he volunteered to make his way back to contact reserve forces for assistance. While attempting to do so, he was mortally wounded by enemy machine gun fire. He got a Silver Star.
Revolutionary War – A one-time resident of Amsterdam, NY had the distinction of serving as a member of the Minutemen regiment, the legendary unit that fired the first American shots at the battles of Lexington and Concord. His name was David Shepard. He was born in Westfield, Massachusetts on October 23, 1744. He attended Yale University in the 1760’s and became a doctor. He settled in Chester, Massachusetts where he began his medical practice and became involved in local politics as a committeeman. New England of course and particularly Massachusetts became a swirling hot bed for the anti-British sentiment that would soon spread throughout the colonies. As relationships between the Crown and colonial leaders in Boston unraveled, Committees of Correspondence were established throughout Massachusetts as rebellious emergency governments to oppose British rules. Shepard was appointed to Chester’s Committee. When the Patriots received word that British troops were planning to raid their hidden arms supply stashes near Concord, local Minutemen militias from throughout the state converged on the site. Shepard volunteered to serve as surgeon to the regiments and it was he who treated the very first American soldiers wounded during the revolution. He would later take part in the Battles of Ticonderoga and Bennington. After the war, he was selected to represent Chester at the Constitutional Convention for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1788 where he voted with the majority in favor of ratifying the first US Constitution. He then returned to Chester, where he continued his medical practice and remained active in town politics until 1802, when he purchased a farm in Amsterdam, NY and relocated his family to the Mohawk Valley settlement. Shepard’s spread was located at the top of what is now Steadwell Avenue and he lived and worked it till his death in 1818. The farm would much later become the sight of Fairview Cemetery.
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