By John Anderson
When journalist Tom Brokaw coined the term “The Greatest Generation” in 1998, he defined United States citizens of the early 20th century. They grew up during the Great Depression and then served in the military during World War II or worked on the home front to support the war effort. Collectively, they helped defeat the Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan.
August 15, 1945 is considered to be the end of the war after Japan surrendered. Last Saturday was the 70th Anniversary of the Allied victory, and many organizations across the country held celebrations to honor those who participated. Locally, the Chester P. Tuttle American Legion Post 279 put out an offer to area WWII veterans for a celebration on Sunday, the 16th.
Stephen Gallant and June M. Ganley organized the event for the Post, and initial expectations were low. They ordered 40 “Ruptured Duck” pins for the expected guests, and subsequently reordered three times as the list grew. The Ruptured Duck pin was traditionally awarded to honorably discharged veterans from WWII.
Although over 16 million military personnel served in WWII, those still living are in their very late 80’s or in their 90’s. Some estimates are that 800 WWII veterans die every day. The United States lost over 407,000 servicemen during the war and another 12,000 civilians, many in Merchant Marine service.
Sunday’s tribute was stellar with Proclamations from State Senator Michael Moore and State Representative Paul Frost, a heart-warming speech from Selectman Chairman Ken Holstrom, and several other presentations. One of the most touching moments was when Stephen Gallant put the Ruptured Duck Pin on his mother, Phyllis D. Gallant.
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Local Boy Scouts made sure everyone kept hydrated, and members of the Tuttle Post put on a nice picnic lunch for all in attendance. A gathering of military vehicles also fit nicely with the celebration. Seeing the WWII veterans salute the flag was a truly wonderful experience. 77 veterans were listed on the program. Not all are from Auburn, but they are from the area:
William Adamuska, Lionel Beaupre, Richard Bergeron, Charles Billa, Paul Blais, Alfred Blake, Daniel Budzinski, Homer Carbonneau, Harvey Chappelaine, John Colby, Robert Cote, Warren Creelman, Don Cronin, Caroll Demoga, Harold Erickson, John Farrell, Jean Flanagan, John M. Flynn, Phyllis D. Gallant, Joseph Gerhard, John A. Gilmartin, Harold J. Gionet, Edward J. Hanlon, Francis Hanratty, Louis Heirtler, Anthony Hmura, and Anthony Jakubowski.
Harold E. Johnson, Jr., Walter Keene, Frederick R. Kelley, Jr., Edward Kulig, Roland LaChance, Joseph E. LaPlante, Arthur LaPlante, Alfred Larson, Jr., Paul Le Clair, Joseph Lemieux, Victor A. Lempitki, James Lennox, Thomas R. Londergan, David Lynch, Erwin Markowitz, Wilson A. Mc Ilvaine, John McNally, John W. Moran, Paul V. Mullaney, Frank Musci, George Nesbitt, Catherine Nickerson, Robert Nordgren, Frank Packard, Noel Paradis, Joseph Perry, and Theodore Podles.
Albert Pruneau, James Rennicks, Earnest Richards, Alfred Robitaille, Edgar Rosling, Robert Selvey, Matthew Smith, Herbert W. Sparhawk, Joseph Sterczala, Howard A. Stevens, Donald D. Suprenant, Thomas Sundy, Richard P. Tobin, Leo Toloczko, Robert Town, Jr., Chester Urban, William VanWinkle, John Watson, Arthur C. Watt, Marion Webster, Andrew J. Williamson, Marion Winters, and Alphonse York.
The Tuttle Post has always been a great community partner for the Town of Auburn, but they outdid themselves this time. With a spirit similar to original V-J Day, the Post recognized some true heroes and kept the Spirit of ’45 alive and well.