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.
Bowline Watchfire 2019
Eugene Levy Park 2017
On the evening of this particular 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.