Friday, June 26, 2009
Memorial honors our friends and neighbors
For many decades two boards have stood on the edge of the Town Common, quietly displaying the names of the 198 men and women who served in the armed forces while residing in Carlisle beginning in World War One. Made of wood, glass and paper, they have survived the mercurial New England weather and faithfully served to commemorate our local veterans. Over the years their age has become more and more apparent, and in 2007 it was decided that a permanent plaque would be a lasting way to honor them. On June 28 at the Old Home Day celebration, this new Veterans Honor Roll will be unveiled.
More than just stone and metal the new Honor Roll is a reminder that some of our friends and neighbors have fought in service to their country, a few even dying in their endeavor to do so. Most, though, returned home, and some of them will be attending the dedication ceremony this Sunday. In an email conversation with Larry Bearfield, a member of the Honor Roll Committee, I learned about the lives and service of a few of the veterans whose names will appear on the memorial. Bearfield received these sketches from General Bowlds of Hanscom Air Force Base, who will also be the guest speaker at the dedication ceremony. All five have been invited to attend the celebration.
Jack Valentine was a 19-year-old pilot in 1943 who had enlisted earlier that year, flying bombing missions over Czechoslovakia with a senior pilot who was a ripe old 21. Three years later, he was a staff sergeant recovering from a bad foot infection and being teased by older men for being 22 but several ranks above them.
Norm Fredkin is a retired veteran who at age 60 had flown 262 combat missions in two wars and was still flying test missions for Raytheon. Before leaving the Air Force in 1970 he was stationed in five countries on three continents and was one of the men who helped aerial reconnaissance become what it is today. A pilot to the end, he is still an active member of the Massachusetts Aeronautics Club.
Carl Andreassen was an Army diesel engine instructor who at the end of the Korean War found himself training South Vietnamese officers to better lead their men “should hostilities break out.”
Ralph Metivier and Dave McAllister, who had known each other since first grade, were assigned to the same unit for their entire tour in Vietnam. From training together in the swamps of Louisiana to tromping beside the Ho Chi Min Trail for ten days straight, these two were together for their entire overseas deployment. They returned home together on the same flight, finally assigned to bases in two different states for the remainder of their term of service. (See Carlisle Mosquito, November 5, 1999).
When the construction of the new Veterans Honor Roll is finished we will be left with a small grassy area ringed by stone and shaded by the trees that stood above the previous memorial. Like the people it honors, the new installation will be a subtle reminder of wars fought and sacrifices made. It is incorporated into the center green instead of being carved out of it, just as our veterans are a seamless part of our town.
The Honor Roll dedication will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 28, on the Town Common.
© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito