NEW PALTZ — The only known New Paltz resident to have died in combat during the Vietnam War was honored at a special ceremony hosted by the office of New York State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill.
Corporal Henry “Hank” Schulte served as infantryman in the U.S. Army, earning a Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart among other honors. He died at 20 years old after serving less than three months in the war.
As a child, Schulte was a boy scout, an altar boy at St. Joseph’s Church, and was number one on the New Paltz High School’s golf team.
Cahill explained how he and members of his staff have been working to memorialize every Ulster County resident who lost their life in Vietnam after a chance encounter with a Kingston resident who lost her brother-in-law who was never memorialized.
“I realized that she lost her brother-in-law in Vietnam, and that we in Kingston never honored Peter Donovan,” he said. “We went ahead with the ceremony, and thus began the efforts of the folks in my office to recognize every Ulster County resident who gave their life in Vietnam.”
His friend and comrade, Army Sergeant Gene Santiamo, shared memories of their friendship together.
“He warmed up to so many people so quickly, made friends so quickly and earned the respect of everyone so quickly,” he said.
Sergeant Santiamo added that Corporal Schulte would be out golfing today if he were still alive, and he shared with the socially distanced crowd a time when he saw a memorial dedicated to Schulte at the New Paltz Golf Course, where his family regularly played.
“I was in Vietnam with Hank, and I was reunited with the family again, years later,” he said.
Schulte’s sisters Betty Rugar and Annie Schulte were on hand to accept the memorial flag from Assemblyman Cahill.
Rugar praised the efforts of Cahill’s staffer Laura Nordstrom, who organized the event.
“She goes above and beyond,” she said.