WEST HARTFORD – Northwest Catholic High School welcomed two military veterans for a special Veterans Day assembly on Nov. 11. Dan Crowley, an alumni parent, and Army Captain Joshua Sider, ’03, addressed the student body about their own experiences in the military and how those experiences have influenced their lives.
Mr. Crowley, father of Janet Crowley Sackbauer, ’69, enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in October of 1940. During World War II, he was stationed in the Pacific, most notably fighting in the Battle of Bataan in 1942. When 12,000 American soldiers and 60,000 Filipino soldiers surrendered on April 9, 1942, to the Imperial Japanese Army, Mr. Crowley and a group of his fellow soldiers refused to surrender, making their way to the island of Corregidor, where they continued to fight the Japanese. But after Corregidor fell to the Japanese on May 6, 1942, Mr. Crowley became a Japanese prisoner of war for 42 months, until Japan surrendered in September of 1945.
Mr. Crowley spoke to students about the brutal treatment he and the thousands of other prisoners of war endured on the Bataan Death March and in the years that followed, including the forced labor camp, the conditions they lived in and the constant threat of execution they faced on a daily basis. He described life as a prisoner of war as “wondering each day if it was going to be your last day.”
Captain Sider entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point following graduation from Northwest Catholic in June of 2003, graduating from the academy with a degree in civil engineering in 2007. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry and, following training at Fort Benning, Ga., was deployed to eastern Afghanistan. He initially served as platoon leader in Afghanistan, later serving as executive officer and assistant operations officer during his later deployments to the region.
Captain Sider’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, a Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Army Commendation Medal. He is now assigned to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y.
Captain Sider spoke to students about how Northwest Catholic influenced his decision to join the military, saying the school encouraged him to think beyond himself and focus on serving others – something that he continues to focus on in his military service today.
During the course of the day, Northwest Catholic students also signed “thank you” cards to veterans. The cards were created by members of the Global Awareness Club and will be included in Christmas packages being sent to active duty soldiers overseas.