Mission Hill lost a great one when Joe Conlon, a Green Beret and Silver Star medal recipient, passed away last month. Conlon grew up on the Hill and he is a 1960 alumnus of Mission High School, where he was a terrific football player. A fierce defensive end, Conlon later played for the Killilea Club when he was on leave from military duty. Four days after graduating from Mission, Conlon was in Paris Island, having joined the Marines. He served 24 years in the military, after which, he worked for General Electric in Lynn.
On Aug. 28, 1968 Conlon was assigned to Special Forces at headquarters at Marble Mountain in Vietnam. Late that night Conlon heard several explosions and realized the enemy was inside the compound. A first lieutenant was injured by a grenade and Conlon jumped on him for protection and moved the lieutenant to safety. Conlon secured the entrance but he was also wounded by a grenade. Despite his injuries and the ceiling collapsed, Conlon returned to the compound and carried a badly wounded soldier through enemy snipers to safety.
He eventually found a Navy corpsman driving a jeep, who transported the injured soldiers to the dispensary. According to the military citation page, “Conlon returned to the compound several times, carrying injured soldiers to safety while exchanging gunfire with the enemy. Conlon’s remarkable courage, running through a furious firefight, saved countless American lives.” Seventeen American soldiers lost their lives on that dark day and many more were wounded.
I visited Joe Conlon last summer, along with Frank Dwyer, Frank Pedersen, and Suzie Shearns, at his Manchester, New Hampshire home. Although Joe’s house was decorated with mementos from his military service, Joe initially showed us the team picture of the great 1959 Mission High football team. Joe and Frank Dwyer were on that team that defeated Matignon High, 22-18, in an epic game. Later, the five of us Mission High grads went to Joe’s neighborhood bar, McGarvey’s Saloon. Before we sat down, a beer and a shot of Bushmills whiskey was in front of Joe. We talked, ate, and drank and we talked some more. It was a wonderful day.
Memphis Grizzlies hoop player Wayne Selden, was recently spotted at Target in the South Bay Mall, shopping for clothes. Wayne, from Mission Hill, was not buying for himself. He was with eight kids from the Shelburne Community Center in Roxbury and he magnanimously purchased shopping carts full of back to school clothes for the youngsters. Wayne, 23, spent his early basketball life at the Shelburne Center, honing his skills, which earned him a basketball scholarship to Kansas University. Wayne had a successful N.B.A. rookie season last year with Memphis after starting the year in the D-League in Iowa.
I enjoyed chatting with Mission Grammar School principal Ali Dutson last week at Mike’s Donuts. Ali is a wonderful woman who has a great rapport with her students, some of whom refer to her as Cindy Lauper because of Ali’s good buoyant looks.
One hundred and forty golfers participated in the annual Mark MacDougall memorial golf tournament at the Easton Country Club last month. Among the many from Mission Hill were 30 golfers from Tobin Court in the project, including Col. George Rollins. Billy MacDougall won the award for longest drive. Overheard in the lounge post golf chatter was the colonel talking about his lovely wife, Marian and her reluctance to cook. “Lately, Marian gives me two choices, take out or reservations,” said the colonel.
Subway Sub recently donated $50,000 to refurbish Killilea Playground, home of the Mission Hill Little League. To commemorate the event, Subway representative and former Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield appeared at the park amid the youngsters and several of us adults. Wakefield is a nice man and he was wonderful with the kids. It was cool watching Wakefield demonstrate his famous knuckle ball pitch to Mission Hill hurler, Joe Schlehuber.
Former Little League mom Mary Curran enjoyed conversing with Wakefield and the famous pitcher autographed Mary’s arm. After the festivities I enjoyed a nice turkey sub. It was a Subway Sub, of course, and it was a freebie.
Congrats to my Calumet Street neighbor Marilyn Miller who won the flight E division of the Massachusetts Senior Women’s Golf Association in Kingston on Aug. 15. Marilyn is a member of the Franklin Park Fairway Golf group.
Condolence to the family of Tommy Payne, who passed away last month. I didn’t know Tommy, but I know his siblings and Tommy is from a wonderful Mission Hill family.
Dickey Power, from the 1953 Mission High class, passed away last week. Dickey, who was a school teacher, was the basketball coach at Mission High in the early 1960s. Dick was a great guy and a gifted story teller. I loved to talk basketball with Dickey at the Mission Hill Post, where he was a long time member. Dickey was a veteran, having served in the Korean war.