Herbert F. B. Wright
C.P.O., U.S.N., Construction Battallion, c.1944
My late father, Herbert Frances Beecher Wright, was a Chief in the CB's during World War II. He was at the invasion of Normandy and helped to design and build the floating docks that they used that day (he was a dockbuilder by trade). He was also an official Navy photographer and I remember how speechless I was when, as a child, I looked at his pictures of maimed and dead soldiers lying on that Beach. After having seen "Saving Private Ryan" I now realize how terrible an experience this was for him. His eyes would well up with tears as he told me about his friends who were shot dead right next to him.
He lost his father at age 3 and was an only child, yet he enlisted in the Navy. In 1938 he started out as a dockbuilder with the New York City Department of Docks. When he came back from the war, he became the Superintendent of Construction and Repair for the 578 miles of waterfront for the City of New York's Department of Marine and Aviation. When he retired in 1975, he was the Assistant Commissioner of the NYC Department of Ports and Terminals, Economic Development Administration. He was also Commander of his VFW Post in Brooklyn for many years. Herbert was born and raised in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in a large Victorian house on Ovington Avenue which had no central heat, only fireplaces, and stables in the back. He donated the house to the Church next door, hoping that they would use it, but they sold it and put up a large medical center in its spot. He moved to Douglaston, Queens, in 1950 after having cared for his mother, Laura Beecher Thorne, who died of cancer. Her father, Walter Beecher Thorn(e), was a Major in the Civil War and winner of the Medal of Honor. We are direct descendents of Henry Ward Beecher of Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, Abolutionist, and preacher of Christian Unity worldwide, and Harriet Beecher Stowe ("The little lady who started the big war" Lincoln said of her) who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin which was translated into many languages and sold around the world. I have erected a small memorial garden for my father in the front of our house with his favorite bench facing the water. He is buried in Calverton Cemetery on Long Island but I prefer to keep his memorial here, close to us. I work at the Bayside Historical Society right across the water on an old Army Base called Fort Totten which dates back to the Civil War. Our building, the former Officer's Club which was built around 1870, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a City and State Landmark. We are having a very special ceremony this year for Veteran's Day (November 11) and are inviting reenactors from the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War II (including nurses). Senator Padavan, who was stationed at Fort Totten, will speak and the 77th Reserve Unit will have a Color Guard and play Taps. We will plant a tree in memory of all those who served our country and lost their lives. It will be on the green in front of the Chapel at Fort Totten. All are invited to pay their respects. God bless America.
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