The Heart of Nashua with Joan Stylianos: Book tells the stark stories of Nashua's Vietnam War veterans

Nashua native Ronald N. Dube has led quite an interesting life thus far.

Ron grew up on Dexter Street, once held the role of lifeguard at the popular swimming hole known as Field’s Grove, and worked on the animal crew at Benson’s Wild Animal Farm in Hudson (Cleo the leopard bit him).

He was also a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, and like anyone else growing up in the 1960s he was an adventurous soul with hopes and dreams, but the Vietnam War was looming.

They were uncertain times, and the cruelty of war was starting to take its toll on the nation. Most of Dube’s classmates returned home safely, but sadly others did not.

Dube has penned a moving story about the conflict called “Vietnam: A Collection of War Stories from Nashua Area Veterans.” The book now marks a trilogy; his debut book was “Nashua Area Men and Women in World War II,” and the second was titled “Post WWII Nashua Through Korea: A Sequel.”

Not bad for a retired schoolteacher who happens to love history. Writing a book is never easy, but Dube is smart, dedicated, curious and likes to share his knowledge.

Teaching science for 40 years and formerly working as a correspondent for the Nashua Telegraph prepared him for the immense research required to write his stories.

“I looked at every Telegraph from 1960 to April 1973 (when forces were pulled out), and I looked for stories, leads and names. I tried to research everybody that I read about,” Dube said. “A lot of them were still around, and some of them were willing to talk. But some were not willing to talk.”

Dube signed up for the 197th National Guard unit in Nashua. He was later medically discharged during basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey due to a rare bone condition he developed in his teens called Kienbock’s disease, a condition that affects wrist movement.

His Vietnam book is a great read, and I enjoyed meeting with the now-Mason resident and talking about the Nashua area men and women who made a difference and the way their lives were forever affected by the war.

One of the individuals profiled is Kenny Latour. He was Dube’s neighborhood chum who lived across the street from him on Dexter.

“He was always like a big brother to me,” Dube explained. “Growing up, he saved my neck from a couple of bullies ...

“Kenny Latour went through airforce ROTC at UNH, became a navigator on a B-52. He qualified to go to fighter pilot school and flew F-4s —129 missions in Vietnam.”

In the book, Latour said he believed in the “Domino Theory” of American foreign policy during the Vietnam era, writing: “The feeling among my squadron mates was that the Commies would be coming over the hill if we didn’t stop them here in this side of the world.”

At the book’s end, Dube includes black and white photos of Nashua area veterans who served and others who were connected to the conflict. The images are gripping, and the captions are simple and raw. Here are just a few:

• Robert Gardner. First Nashuan killed in Vietnam, July 13, 1962.

• Bob Ouelette. Radio operator at Ia Drang, longtime supervisor at Nashua Corp.

• Claudine Mahar. NHANG and hospital nurse.

• Dennis Lorden. Killed by fragmentation wound, July 14, 1969.

• Dr. Chris Eliades. Vietnam doctor, Nashua surgeon.

• Tom Nadeau. Killed by accidentally fired rifle, August 11, 1968.

• Martin Coronis. Helicopter pilot, killed July 11, 1967.

• Bill Porter. Bomb demolition expert, career airman.

• George Kessler. Bronze Star recipient, florist.

• John Regan. West Point graduate, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry recipient.

I highly recommend this book; you can learn plenty, especially if you don’t know enough about Vietnam (myself included) and of the war’s complexities.

To purchase a copy, get in touch with Ron Dube. He’d love to hear from you.

Call him at 878-1765, or email him at macigi.ron@gmail.com.

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at jtania512@gmail.com.