On July 15, at the Townsend Memorial Hall, there were 17 men honored, 17 men who died serving their country in World War I and World War II, 17 men who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. They paid with their lives. They willingly, bravely, put their lives on the line, and fought for freedom ... our freedom.
The following are the names of those who fought and died in service to our country: Pvt. Walter E. Brown, Sgt. Edwin E. Dudley, Pvt. James A. Keene, Lt. George H. McElligott, Pvt. Franz W. Miller, Sgt. Thomas E. Rogers, Pvt. James L. Rusk, Pvt. Leland H. Woods, Cpl. Harold R. Conner, Pvt. James D. Curran, Lt. Daniel A. Doyle Jr., PFC Charles E. Fagan Jr., Lt. Roibert C. Kinghorn, Cpl. John C. Leahy, Pvt. George O. Maxwell, and Pvt. Melvin H. Pineo.
Around town, there are 17 memorial squares with their names. On the memorial squares are gold stars. The meeting room at the Townsend Memorial Hall has been rededicated to honor those 17 men who selfishlessly fought and died.
There are 17 memorial squares in Townsend with gold stars on the squares. Now there are 17 plaques in the meeting room at town hall. On each plaque, there is a photo of the soldier, and if a photo was unavailable, there is a photo of his grave. There is a biography of each soldier.
Avis Roy states: "This is a long time in coming."
Veteran Mr. Donald Keefe stated: "...it's a great day to finally do something like this." Mr. Keefe pointed to one of the plaques and shared some long-ago memories. "Pvt. Melvin Pineo was a classmate of mine." Then he pointed to another plaque and shared more memories. Cpt. John C. Leahy served in the army with my brother, across the Rhine River, in General Patton's army. Other people who attended the Gold Star Memorial program went up to the plaques and shared with each other how they knew that soldier. There were long-ago friends of some of the soldiers, veterans, town members of the Townsend VFW Ladies Auxiliary, members of the Trustees of the Soldiers Memorials, town officials and Townsend residents present.
Veteran Mr. Walter Mann, a member of the Trustees of the Soldiers Memorials, opened the rededication program. He gave credit to all of the people who helped make the Gold Star Memorial happen. Avis Roy, of the Townsend VFW Ladies Auxiliary as well as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Soldiers Memorials, had the idea to put poppies above each plaque.
"Avis felt very strongly about putting poppies with the plaques. And the poppies look great with the plaques." Mr. Mann also gave additional thanks. "I'd like to thank the selectman and the town adminstrator. They came up with the idea of putting the plaques so that people coming to the town hall will see them."
Selectman Mr. Bob Plamendon, Selectman Ms. Sue Lisio, Town Clerk Mrs. Sue Funiole, and Town Administrator Mr. Andy Sheehan were present to honor Townsend's 17 heroes of World War I and World War II.
Another person he thanked was Mr. Glen Chapel. "Glen Chapel was a driving force ... he was out walking, and saw a marker of one of the soldiers and wanted to know more about him. He started researching the soldier, and he gathered a biography of Cpt. Leahy."
"Glen Chapel went to the town clerk, wanting to get a biography outside, but the Trustees of the Soldiers Memorials said that it would get weathered. Mr. Peer Buxton, a member of the Trusetees of the Soldiers Memorials, did a huge amount of work. Veteran Mr Bob Tumber gave a lot of information." There was so much support and help during this whole process.
Mr. Mann continued, "So this evolved into 17 plaques honoring the soldiers in a central location. It is the hope that as time goes by, people will come by with a photo for those plaques that do not have a photo of the soldier." There is a plastic holder on the wall near the plaques with informational papers. On the papers are the names of the soldiers, and where their memorial squares are located in Townsend.
Mr. Mann also introduced a guest speaker, the Townsend, Ashby, and Pepperll veterans agent, retired army Sgt. Joe Mazzola.
"Mr. Mazzola was awarded the nation's second highest award honoring a veteran, the Silver Star for Valor. These men went selfishlessly to fight for our country ... we have to remember to honor them, always."
Mr. Mazzola gave statistics. "In World War II, there were about 53,000 indiviuals who gave up their lives for their country. In World War II, there were over 400,000 American soldiers who gave up their lives for their country. In World War II, there were 211 letters going out every day that a husband or son died. It is a high price to pay. We are able to reap and harvest what they gave us."
At the end of the rededication program, Mr. Peter Bauxton of the Trustees of the Soldiers Memorials re-emphasized what Mr. Mann had previously stated. "We're hoping that someone will have a picture of one of these soldiers, maybe a family member, so that we will be able to complete the plaque with the soldier's picture.
The rededication program was extremely moving and emotional for those who attended.
The invocation and Benediction was done by Father Jeremy St. Martin, of St. John's Evangelical Church of Townsend. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by veteran Mr. Keith Jackson.
When in town hall, please visit the new Gold Star Memorial. Please give these men the recognition and honor they deserve. They paid the ultimate price for our country ... for us.