Author revisits Vietnam era in memoir


Naugatuck author Len Yannielli published his memoir, ‘Moon Shadow of War,’ in 2013. The book focuses on his experiences during the Vietnam War era. –CONTRIBUTED
Naugatuck author Len Yannielli published his memoir, ‘Moon Shadow of War,’ in 2013. The book focuses on his experiences during the Vietnam War era. –CONTRIBUTED


NAUGATUCK — A borough resident details his experience during the Vietnam War era in his newest book.

Len Yannielli, 68, published his memoir, “Moon Shadow of War,” in 2013, and has been traveling to libraries throughout New England giving talks about the book.

“I want to reach young people,” Yannielli said.

The memoir, which focuses on the years from 1966 through 1972, contains stories of what life was like in the Valley against a backdrop of a war and growing feelings of resentment towards the government, Yannielli said.

Yannielli said many of the memoirs of America during the Vietnam War are centered on larger places like New York City and Boston, and were written by people who played large parts in the anti-war movement at the time.

“What was I? A small fish here in Waterbury. There was no real congealed anti-war movement,” Yannielli said.

However, the Vietnam War still managed to have large impacts on the lives of those who were removed from the large cities where the anti-war movements were taking place, Yannielli said.

The book features a variety of stories, such as the four separate occasions Yannielli had to face the draft.

Yannielli said the book had been forming in his head long before he even began typing it out.

“Anybody who writes with a purpose doesn’t sit down one day and say ‘I think I’ll write a book.’ It just doesn’t work that way,” Yannielli said. “But if I were to pick a point on the timeline I would say 2004.”

Yannielli said the idea for the book began with him learning that there were more teachers fired in the late 60s and early 70s than throughout the height of the Cold War in the 50s.

This resonated with him because he was fired from the Thomaston Public School system in 1972. Yannielli claims the main reason he was fired was due to his opposition to the Vietnam War.  

“I knew others had undergone the same fate I did, but I never knew I had that much company,” Yannielli said.

It was in his research into this faction of the American homeland during the Vietnam War that led to him beginning to recount and catalogue his experiences.

However, starting in 2005, Yannielli began working towards making the borough’s Gunntown property into a passive recreation park. This new mission put the book on hold, Yannielli said.

In 2011, after Gunntown Passive Park and Nature Preserve was officially opened, Yannielli went back to writing his memoir.

Yannielli has written two other books, both scientific textbooks. Lyme Disease (Deadly Diseases & Epidemics) was published in 2004 and The Microbiology Laboratory: An Integrated Approach was published two decades ago with the latest edition being reprinted in 2006.