STAMFORD, Conn. -- Archie Elam of Stamford, commander of Fairfield County’s branch of Connecticut Veterans of Foreign Wars and an Army veteran, was inducted earlier this month into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame.
Elam, a graduate of West Point, reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel serving the 18th Airborne Corps 24th Infantry Division in Operation Desert Storm.
“Congratulations to Archie on this immense honor,'' Stamford Mayor David Martin said. "Whether he is placing flags on veterans’ graves or assisting corporations in hiring recent vets, Archie is always ready and willing to help. On behalf of the City of Stamford, I am grateful to Archie for his dedication and all that he has done for veterans in our community and the entire State of Connecticut.”
The Hall of Fame was established in 2005 to recognize the continued service of Connecticut veterans who have made significant contributions to their communities after leaving military service. The induction ceremony took place on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at the atrium of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
Elam served during Desert Storm 25 years ago. Elam served as the head of operations for the U.S. Army’s 18th Airborne Corps 24th Infantry Division in the first war against Iraq. It was an organization of 36,000 troops with hundreds of tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery.
“I was responsible for all our units who were in contact with the enemy,’’ Elam said. “We were Gen. (Norman) Schwarzkopf’s left hook.” Elam’s troops penetrated enemy lines deeper than any other unit in U.S. history.
Eight soldiers in Elam's division lost their lives in the fighting, and Elam had become close to each of them. “You can feel the pain,’’ said Elam, a 1976 graduate of West Point. “You hate for it to happen. As an officer and a leader, you know you have to take care of your guys. Losing them hurts. But you also recognize, they and everybody else, that was there were trying to do things the country wanted us to do.”
After his military service, Elam enrolled at Duke University and secured a master’s degree in business administration and worked at GE Capital and United Technologies before going into management consulting. A member of Stamford’s Post 9617, he is the first member of the organization in its 69-year history to hold an officer’s position with the Connecticut Veterans of Foreign Wars. In his role as the new Fairfield County commander, he is responsible for 20 posts and nearly 2,500 veterans.
One of Elam’s projects in Stamford included planting flags at the graves of fallen soldiers. Eagle Scouts Marco and Nick Critelli, along with their father, Andrew, identified gravesites of veterans at Woodland and St. John’s Cemeteries in Stamford.