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Northwest Catholic Celebrates Veterans Day with 1968 Graduate

Sgt. John Mastro ’68, USAR (second from left) of Hartford was the keynote speaker at Northwest Catholic High School’s Annual Veterans Day Celebration. Sgt. Mastro is pictured with President Christian J. Cashman of West Hartford, and Veterans Colby Thresher (NWC advancement officer) of Simsbury and Ron Ferri (former NWC teacher) of West Hartford. Submitted photo

John Mastro, who graduated from Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford in 1968, shared his experience in Vietnam and details of his career with students on Veterans Day.

The Northwest Catholic Jazz Choir sings “America the Beautiful” at the celebration. Submitted photo

Submitted by Maureen Scudder, Northwest Catholic High School

When John Mastro graduated from Northwest Catholic in 1968, he knew he would one day serve. After a year at university, that day came. 

In 1970, John Mastro of Hartford enlisted in the U.S. Army, working for the Army Security Agency, the branch responsible for interception and analyzation of signals intelligence. Sgt. Mastro’s work was to help identify the location of enemy units and order battle information. After additional training, Mastro was assigned to the 7th Radio Research Field Station in Udorn, Thailand. While in Thailand, he worked with various civilian agencies that supported the military. And in May 1971, Sgt. John Mastro volunteered to go to Vietnam.

In Vietnam, Mastro was assigned to the 265th Radio Company/101st Airborne Division, and his duties included locating North Vietnamese Army units along the Ashau Valley and Demilitarized Zone. After serving in Vietnam, Mastro left for Fort Bragg to enter civilian life and the Army Reserves. He attended college on the GI bill, then worked for Pratt and Whitney Aircraft for 30 years, his last position as staff engineer on the F-22 Raptor program.

Mastro’s message to the students of Northwest Catholic on Veterans Day was simple: “selflessness and being part of a greater purpose matters.” Mastro continued, “Among the many lessons taught at Northwest was doing the right thing in difficult times.” 

Mastro shared how fortunate he was to have met men he called “heroes” – World War II veterans who were “humble men of the greatest generation.” From these men, some even from the famous “Band of Brothers,” and from his experience in the military, Mastro learned discipline and “how to do what had to be done regardless of self.” But the most important lesson Mastro learned in his year of service was to appreciate the United States. Mastro drove home the point on Monday morning that we must value our freedom. Mastro said we were so fortunate to be “masters of our own fate,” then he charged his audience to go forth and be masters of their fate.

Today Mastro is involved with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, a program dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled military service personnel and veterans. He is a life member of the 101st Airborne Division Association and has served on their Board of Governors at the national level. He is currently President of the Sentinel Chapter, an at-large chapter of the Association for 101st men and women who have served in Signal Intelligence units. 

Congressman John B. Larson has announced the award of the following medals to Sgt. John Mastro for his service with the 101st Airborne Division during Vietnam War in 1971: The Bronze Star for heroic achievement in ground combat; and The Air Medal for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight in support of ground combat forces. 

Northwest Catholic High School is proud to call Sgt. John Mastro one of their own and was delighted to have him as their keynote speaker at their Annual Veterans Day Celebration.

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Catherine Hurlburt, a senior at Northwest Catholic, introduces the Veterans Day keynote speaker, Sgt. John Mastro, a NWC graduate from the Class of 1968. Submitted photo

Sgt. John Mastro spoke with students before the assembly and visited history classes afterwards. Submitted photo

NWC President Christian J. Cashman thanks Sgt. John Mastro for his keynote and for his service. Submitted photo

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