The origins of Watchfires in the Hudson Valley dates back to the Revolutionary War and were used by the Colonists along the Hudson River to alert residents that the British were approaching. The Watchfires were also used as a means of helping solders separated from their units return safely.
In 1987, Rockland County Vietnam Veterans led by V V A Chapter 333 President, Jerry Donnellan decided to commemorate Memorial Day by the observance of a Watchfire.
Currently Rockland County has four permanent sites where Vietnam Veterans observe the annual Watchfires located at Bowline Point Park in Haverstraw, Eugene Levy Park on Route 45 in Ramapo, East End of Piermont Pier in Piermont and Clausland Mountain Park in Orangeburg.
The Watchfires are observed for the 24 hours of May 30, each year to honor troops that were lost in war and have never returned to enjoy their family and friends as a consequence of war.
All Veterans are invited to participate in this solemn annual observance sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 333 Rockland County, NY.
At the Bowline Watchfire last year a young EMT from the Haverstraw Ambulance Corp took the attached picture from behind the flagpole at Bowline. She gave a copy to a friend of mine. He had the picture framed and gave it to me last Tuesday at Bowline. He also had a framed copy made for the young lady and it was dropped off at the Haverstraw Ambulance Building.
During the early morning of May 30, 2021 at the Bowline Watchfire, the left picture was taken by one of the Watchfire observers. We did not closely examine the picture until the following morning. It appears to show a kneeling figure at the right base of the Watchfire. Similar to the picture taken in 2017 at the Eugene Levy Watchfire, we look upon I as a sign from our departed brothers.
Eugene Levy Park
Watchfire Police Honor Guard
Eugene Levy Park 2018
Eugene Levy Park 2017
On the evening of this particular Eugene Levy Watchfire there were approximately 7 or 8 of Chapter 333 members who stayed over night to ensure the fire was kept ablaze. Sitting in our lawn chairs and chatting among us, slowly a very clear picture and distinct figure began to materialize directly in the middle of the fire.
Each one of the members in attendance could see the figure which looked to all of us of a SOLDIER/TROOP before our very eyes. To say we were all in awe is putting it mildly. Not one of us would or could dispute this figure, Cliff Fromm quickly took his camera to photograph and document what we were witnessing. The SOLDIER remained with us for a good three hours before slowly fading away, perhaps he lingered to share some time with other veterans or maybe just to say Thank You before heading back to his final home.
What one chooses to believe or not is their own personal matter, for those of us in attendance that night, we were and remain in our belief this indeed was a Soldier on his way home.