Lyme’s 2020 Memorial Day Celebration
A gathering of Lyme’s hearts and memories, inspired by Lyme Police Chief, Shaun J. O’Keefe, Commander of American Legion Post #80
“As we head into a very different Memorial Day weekend, given our current Covid-19 situation, I would like to invite any and all who would like to, to post a poem or note of thanks to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our Country. I think that this is a wonderful alternative to give thanks.”
Check out the community’s responses below.
We’ve included the names of those who shared memorial tributes or poems in red. The names of those who responded with comments are in blue.
From Darin Knaus
What a great idea. This Memorial Day I am especially remembering Rose’s Uncle Fred, a true American hero. He was in the 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One) and participated in the D-Day landings (Omaha). I only had the pleasure to hear his war stories once, but he was involved in some of the most significant US actions of WW II in Europe and Africa. If you care to learn about what teenagers were up to back in the 40’s some of his story was documented by a local reporter in Michigan:
I am truly thankful for what Uncle Fred and his generation did to fight for freedom and liberty for the US and the world as a whole.
From Darlene Lehmann
Please meet my father, Russell W. Frye and his his identical twin Robert C. Frye, both deceased. Dad was in the Army Infantry – 33rd Division, landed at Normandy Beach on D-Day, was injured and awarded a Purple Heart – during his military career (active and National Guard forever) went from Private to Major. Bob was sent to the Pacific, was missing in action for some time and ended his military career as a Marine Sgt Major. Brothers were not allowed to serve in the same military theatre. My dad was gone for four years of my early life. His homecoming was so special.
From Patty Jenks
A Memorial Day offering
We can shed tears that they’re gone. Or we can smile because they lived. We can close our eyes and pray that they’ll come back. Or we can open our eyes and see all they have left for us. Our hearts can be empty because we can’t see them anymore. Or we can be full of love for the times we shared. We can turn our back on tomorrow and live yesterday. Or we can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. We can remember home and only that they’ve gone. Or we can cherish the memories and live on. We can cry and close our mind, be empty and turn our back, Or we can do what they’d want… Smile, and open our eyes; love and go on. Honoring those gone, but not forgotten.
In Memory of those who left to fight for us and couldn’t come back. In Memory of those we love.
Thank you for the suggestion to gather virtually in thanksgiving and honor, Shaun.
Thank you for your service.
From Janet Smith
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.
From Sharyn Amberger
A World War Two Purple Heart Veteran. I was nine months old when he came home from the war and my Mom would show me his photo every day. When he walked into my room I said, “DaDa.” He was blown away as it was my first time seeing him. 15 minutes later, my Uncle walked in and he had the same welcome.
My Dad turned 96, last month and is doing well and enjoying his life. He never wanted to talk about the war, but just started to because I finally asked. Tears.
Thank You for your Service!!
From David Shafer
My dad and my mom.
My father was a math educator and principal in 1941. He volunteered to teach navigation after Pearl Harbor, and as he put it, soon found himself marching around the parade grounds before being inducted as a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Air Corp. He was sent to the South Pacific where he was assigned to search and rescue for downed fliers and navy personnel. He was shot down 3 times. No medals as that was just what was expected during the war at that time. He island hopped across the Pacific as our forces retook the islands heading to Japan. He did receive a Purple Heart for an injury of his shoulder after the war that eventually gave him much problems, but it didn’t stop him from his missions.
After the WW2, he reenlisted and had a 28 year military career in the, now, Air Force. During that career he had a non-combat role during the Korean Conflict and was an early advisor into Vietnam(1960) while JFK was President, preparing for the eventual campaign. In between war zones he had a varied career that was too illustrious to go into details. But on one assignment he met my mom in Portugal.
Sometimes we in the USA forget about civilians in war zone. My mom was British and was 10 years old when the Blitzkrieg started over London. 57 consecutive nights in 1940 and then off and on for 5 more months the bombs fell in London where my mom lived. Nightly trips down to the tube and then out in the wee hours of the morning to see what was left and who survived. Imagine living and surviving that??????
No wonder my mom was so mad with my dad, when in 1966 on the way back to the states he bought a Volkswagen Beetle to be delivered in California. LOL. That was the only non-American car that they owned. She even made a nasty comment about my first care, a Fiat, bought in 1973. Bought she had mellowed out a little by the late 1980s, when I bought a Porsche.
Here’s to my parents and the incredible life they had, which had such a dangerous and unimaginable early period.
From Yolanda Knight
My dad was one of the first ever accepted to Northeastern University and then to Harvard for his MBA as an army vet in Windsor, VT.
From Stephen T. Campbell
Sargent Hugh Parshall Freeman, US Army, 309th Infantry Regiment, 78th Infantry Division, was my mother’s youngest brother. Raised in Salisbury, Maryland, he was killed at the Battle of Remagen Bridge in March, 1945, just two months after I was born.
After the war the US Government contacted the families of all the casualties to arrange for repatriation of their bodies to the States. Hugh was in his early 20’s and single. His mother, my grandmother, decided that he should join those of his fallen comrades who were being buried in Europe. Hugh is interred at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium.
From Jo Steele
My father, William T. Steele, finished college and immediately joined the army serving with the 89th Infantry’s “Rolling W” division (mostly midwesterners ). They landed in France Jan. 1945 and by March had joined the Third Army’s assault on the Rhineland, crossing the Sauer, Moselle and Rhine rivers. By April of ’45 they liberated Ohrdruf, a sub camp of Buchenwald. It was the first camp liberated by US troops. A week later it was visited by Eisenhower, Patton & Bradley. He always talked about “meeting” them, but never wanted to talk about the camps or much else about the war. Most of what I know now was in a diary I found while sorting his files his papers.
From Jay Cary
My best childhood friend – Lance Corporal George Francis Adams.
From Peter Tenney
Memorial Day reflection on my father.
From Rick Daley
Memorial Day reflection on my father.
From Marybeth Durkin
Memorial Day Reflection
My dad, John J. Durkin, came of age in the Pacific Theater during WW Il. A member of the Army Signal Corps Company B49, Heavy Construction Battalion, he was 18 years old when he entered into active service. In December 1944, he left Fort Lewis in Washington for the atolls of the Marshall Islands before heading to Guam, the largest of the Mariana Islands and the center point for all air and sea attacks on Japan. His ultimate destination was Iwo Jima.
Typical of his generation, he was stoic and reticent to speak about his service but the war’s impact remained palpable even through my childhood lens. Although few details were forthcoming, I distinctly remember him commenting on the black volcanic sands of Iwo Jima.
Recently, I was visiting my 98yo mom. Searching a file drawer, I was surprised to find his original Army discharge paper work because he had saved so little from this time in his life. Reaching again into the drawer, I pulled out a plastic bag and caught my breath at the site of the black sand from Iwo Jima.
Today, all 3 of my children serve in the Army – undoubtedly inspired by their grandfathers. (Their paternal grandfather served in the Navy/North Atlantic.)
From Hebe Quinton
Daddy, Arthur R. Quinton (1924-2015) was evacuated from Lowestoft, Suffolk to Nottinghamshire at the beginning of the war. Mum, Rose Maud Trebilcock Quinton (1926-2008) was evacuated from Cornwall to Wales. After graduation from the University of London with a physics degree, Dad enlisted in the British Navy. He was stationed off the beaches of the Normandy invasion manning the radar during the invasion. Mum was running wire for telecommunications, climbing poles and connecting villages. At the end of the war they met at a USO social in Cornwall, married in 1946, emigrated to Canada in 1949, then Dad did his Ph.D at Yale before becoming citizens. I guess I am an anchor baby.
From Michelle Beane
Memorial Day Prayer
For as long as I can remember my father, Robert Sanborn, has stood at the front of the Lyme Center Baptist Church and delivered this prayer that comes from The American Legion Officers Guide. I would be remiss if I didn’t share it this weekend.
“Let us pray. Almighty God, Giver of all victories, we thank Thee for the opportunities which abide in our land, for Thy guidance in the hour of peril and Thy tender love in times of need. Help us to remember with reverence the valor and devotion of our departed comrades; not only those whose bodies consecrate our country’s soil, but also those who sleep beyond the seas, and others whose resting places will not be known until that last day when the deep will have given up its dead. O God, teach us to honor them by ever cherishing the ideals for which they fought. Keep us steadfast in the cause of human rights and liberties of law and order, and true Americanism. Give us the power to see and the will to do right. Grant that The American Legion may preserve the high ideals for which our comrades died. May Thy merciful blessing rest upon those they left behind. Keep us forever firm in righteousness, humble of heart, and unselfish in purpose. Amen.”
While I have always been surrounded by Veterans, I have only known one soldier who was killed in action, my friend, Jeffery S. Holmes, 1 CPL, U.S. Marine Corps, killed in Iraq on November 25, 2004. Jeff’s family is from Hartford, VT and is always on my mind this time of year.
Be well and remember those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.
From John Campbell
Memorial Day Memories
From Nora Gould
I have no memories of WWII, but both of my younger brothers served in the Vietnam War. My husband served just before that war.
My eldest brother, a Marine, was sent to Danang, Vietnam in the spring of 1965. He served on an airbase that, I believe, was being built at that time by the Americans. He says he remembers being busy, scared, shot at and following orders. A man of few words.
My youngest brother, a Navy Aviator, served two tours on two aircraft carriers in the South China Sea in 1969 and 1970. He had been educated at the Naval Academy and always wanted to fly. I believe he flew Phantoms on the first tour and can’t recall which plane followed that. His memoir “High Adventures” is available at the Lyme Library.
My husband served in the Medical Corps as a dentist at Fort Bragg, Georgia, just before Vietnam heated up.
All three believed in duty to country. No question.
From Jeanne Prince
A couple of weeks ago my very excited niece called to say that she had found some photos my father, her grandfather, had taken when the USS Panay was sunk by the Japanese. He was stationed aboard on that fateful day, Dec. 12, 1937. As the ships photographer , he took many photos that day and mentioned them in a letter he wrote to his wife, my mom, my niece’s grandmother. She is the family member committed to finding out all she can about our ancestry.
After the Panay he was stationed on the Indianapolis for many years and was discharged just before it left port on her last voyage. My dad always spoke with great sadness of his many shipmates who died when the Indianapolis was torpedoed just days before the war ended.
My father was proud of his service to our country and was especially pleased when I married a navy pilot!
From Earl Strout
During WW2, my brother was in the Merchant Marines sailing the Atlantic on merchant vessels shipping supplies to Europe. On one occasion, my parents and I watched him sail out of Portland, Maine (our home town).
A few days later Mom, Dad and I sat down for our Thanksgiving dinner. I remember their tears as we prayed for his safe voyage. Never will I forget their deep sorrow.
Everett survived the war.
It is difficult to fully understand the anxiety that those at home must have felt day after day for the loved ones, praying for their safe return.
We are truly humbled by their sacrifice.
From Richard Vidal
Remembering my dad
My dad, Tony Vidal, was stationed in European and the Pacific during World War ll while serving in the Navy. He was a multi-lingual person and could communicate with others in necessary times. He spent almost two years in France and received a special honor from the French government for his efforts. He was later stationed in Italy, England and Spain.
After Europe, he was sent to serve on the battle ship Colombia and I have a photo of my Dad’s on the ship in China.
Unfortunately, my Dad never spoke about much of what, but I found out about his actions thru some of his documents .
My dad passed away one year ago. He was 93 and now he and my mom are at peace, at rest in the High Cemetery in Lyme
His efforts, along with so many others, created a path for all of us who came after.
My grandfather/dad /brother were all Navy. I too served in the Navy during peace time. I tried to carry what ever I could to maintain this legacy, but I realize that no one could come close to those men and women with their courage and who have given their lives for our freedom.
I thank them everyday and miss my Dad. I wish we had shared more stories of his time in the Navy..
From Alfred Balch
In Honor of my Uncle Arnold Smith
My mother’s brother, Staff Sergeant Arnold A. Smith, made the supreme sacrifice
for his county. His plane was lost in a strafing mission over Wasile Bay, Halmahera
Island, Netherland Indies, 13 August, 1944.
My mother, Esther Smith Balch, told me many great stories of Arnold, growing up
in Post Mills, Vt. She told me that he saved the family house from foreclosure, using
his hard earned savings from jobs he worked as a young man. How I wish I could have
From Karen Phetteplace
In Honor of my Dad & Aunt
My Dad was in WWII Europe and mostly he was in charge of a motor pool as a mechanic. He kept having stomach aches and was told don’t be a wimp! Eventually his appendix burst and when he awoke after surgery, his nurse was his sister. She was stationed in a church recommissioned as a hospital. His bed was a pew.
Later on the siblings discovered that many times during the war they were near each other, but the church/hospital was the only time whereby they saw each other for 4 years.
Thank you all for sharing your stories – what sacrifices were endured for us.
From Bob Rufsvold
Remembering my dad
Remembering my Dad, Col. Robert M. Rufsvold, this Memorial Day, which as it happens to fall this year, was the day that he died in 2006. We were in grief, and even feeling somewhat aggrieved, cheated out of more time together. But his time had run out after a brief illness, and he left his home and his life as he wished, going out the door “feet first,” no long years of disability, pain and suffering; no nursing home, or interminable doctor visits. Nothing personal, he said.
The reality was that the last 38 years, 5 months, and 5 days of his life had been a gift, nothing short of a miracle, to him and to all of us who loved him, especially my Mom.
On December 20th, 1967, his 44th birthday, his clock, it seems, had run out. He was flying in the second seat of an OV-1 Mohawk Army observation aircraft on a low-level reconnaissance flight over enemy-held territory in the A Shau Valley, Vietnam. No free pass because of his birthday, a determined NVA antiaircraft gunner in the jungle below had a lucky (for him) day and put a few 51 caliber rounds into the Mohawk, which was only lightly armored. My Dad knew immediately that he’d been hit and signaled to the pilot, also checking out to see how he was doing. They gave each other a thumbs-up and the pilot said, “Let’s get the hell out of here,” or something to that effect.
First miracle — that the aircraft was still flying and airworthy. Instruments were shot up or damaged by shrapnel, but all the controls were intact. No emergency landing in the valley below was needed. They should be able to reach an airfield and aid station in Cam Ranh Bay in under an hour.
Second miracle — that my Dad’s multiple wounds were not life-threatening. Many pieces of shrapnel (likely from the cockpit cowling and light armor), and a single 51 caliber, copper-jacketed round traversed both my Dad’s legs, missing all major blood vessels and all bones. No significant blood loss… or he might not have survived the flight into Cam Ranh Bay.
Third miracle — that the aircraft, and my Dad’s legs stopped the bullet that was on a trajectory to seriously injure, perhaps mortally wound the pilot. The bullet stopped just under the skin before it would have exited the top of Dad’s left thigh, in a direct line to the pilot who remained completely untouched. But grateful.
The radio in the aircraft still worked and the pilot called ahead to Cam Ranh Bay to alert the medics as to the nature of the emergency. The plane was met at the airfield and my Dad was in an aid station within minutes; in surgery a very short time later.
Several surgeries and 3 days later, the story continues somewhat serendipitously.
A few days before, on the 17th of December, Prime Minister Harold “Gunner” Holt of Australia disappeared and was presumed drowned while swimming at Cheviot Beach, near Portsea, Victoria. President Lyndon B. Johnson attended Holt’s memorial service, but also made a quickly planned and unannounced visit to Vietnam, stopping over for a few hours in Cam Ranh Bay. Unbeknownst to my Dad, paperwork was quickly processed so that a number of recently wounded soldiers could be visited by LBJ at the hospital and awarded the Purple Heart.
Dad was just out of surgery and still “under the influence,” when, to his great surprised, LBJ came through and awarded him the Purple Heart. “Where are you from, Son?” the President asked. Momentarily not sure whether to answer his “home of record,” Minnesota, or his current home, he replied, “Springfield, Virginia, Sir….. you know, right near where you live!” The President didn’t comment, but smiled and chuckled, then moved on to the next wounded bunkie.
Every day we had with my Dad after December 20, 1967, all 14,036 of them, was a gift, a Blessing.
I thank them everyday and miss my Dad. I wish we had shared more stories of his time in the Navy..
From Michael Beahan
Remembering a Military Life
“Dawn Breaks with a Mighty Roar” was the headline for my dad’s first person account of being an Army Air Corps private at Hickam Field in Hawaii during the Sept. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. It ran on the anniversary of that historic day in 1991 in Lakeland (FL) Ledger, where Brad Beahan was the theater writer. You can read his account, see the two-word telegram—“SAFE LOVE=”—he was permitted to send home, and read the letter he wrote to his family after the attack, on my “Reflective Traveler” website: https://reflectivetraveler.com/2020/05/05/dawn-breaks-with-a-mighty-roar/ .
My dad continued to the South Pacific with the 11th Bomb Group and participated in the battle for Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in 1942. He was promoted to master sergeant and carried on with the Group in B-24s to the Marshall and Gilbert Islands campaigns. After more than four years in the Pacific, he came home, married my mom, Marie, and went to Syracuse University on the GI Bill. He received a BA degree in English in 1948 and was in graduate school when he was recalled back into the Air Force, where he “served in the Korean War and flew 137 missions in spy planes during the Vietnam War out of Danang.” He retired as a major in 1968, became a newspaperman, and passed away peacefully at his home in Winter Haven, FL, in 1993.
Happy to share these memories on Memorial Day 2020.
From Stephanie Carney
Memorial Day Poems
Dirge for Two Veterans by Walt Whitman
The last sunbeam
lightly falls from the finished Sabbath,
on the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking,
down a new-made double grave.
Lo, the moon ascending,
up from the east the silvery round moon,
beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
immense and silent moon.
I see a sad procession,
and I hear the sound of coming full-keyed bugles,
all the channels of the city streets they’re flooding,
as with voices and with tears.
I hear the great drums pounding,
and the small drums steady whirring,
and every blow of the great convulsive drums,
strikes me through and through.
For the son is brought with the father,
(In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,
two veterans son and father dropped together,
and the double grave awaits them.)
Now nearer blow the bugles,
and the drums strike more convulsive,
and the daylight o’er the pavement quite has faded,
and the strong dead-march enwraps me.
In the eastern sky up-buoying,
the sorrowful vast phantom moves illumined,
(‘Tis some mother’s large transparent face,
in heaven brighter growing.)
O strong dead-march you please me!
O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.
The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.
from The Complete Poems Of Walt Whitman, Wordsworth Editions Ltd. 1998
In Flanders Fields by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
From The Cuttings
In Honor of our own
Two men of our own, two generations of Marines
One from WWII, Korea & Vietnam: Gunnery Sergeant Frank A. Cutting Sr
One from Desert Storm: Corporal Shawn J. O’Keefe
Marines through and through, one entered into the service in 1943 and the other in 1988. For many years they brought the Memorial Day remembrance to Lyme.
In Honor of these two and the other men and women who fought for our freedom, our family shares the Marine’s Prayer.
Freedom Is Not Free by Kelly Strong
I watched the flag pass by one day
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?
How many pilots’ planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No freedom isn’t free.
I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant “Amen”,
When the flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons, and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of a sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No freedom isn’t free.
With Love and honor,
Frank, Dina, Cole & Torey Cutting
From Tim Cook
In honor of my father.
My father graduated from Haverford College in 1938 and was an ambulance driver in Italy in the American Field Service attached to the British 8th Army.
Many times he drove behind enemy lines at night without lights to pick up wounded soldiers. He drove all through Italy and ended up in the Netherlands at the end of the war
In recent years he has been written up in the American Field Service history for his bravery.
Somehow he survived and made it home. I was born in 1946.
From Lynn Cook
In honor of my mother’s brothers.
Two of my mother’s brothers died fighting in World War II.
Harvey Lewis died at the battle of Normandy. He left behind a wife and three children.
Carl Lewis was a tail gunner and died on his last mission over the Kiel Canal in Germany. He was unmarried. My oldest brother who was born in 1944 was named after him and was Green Beret in Vietnam.
From James Graham
Memorial Day Remembrance
From Lincoln’s Gettysburg address:
“It is for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
The following are Lyme veterans who lost their lives while serving their country. It was put together with the help of the Lyme Cemetery Commission and the VA website. I apologize if the list is not complete and welcome corrections.
Guy O. Chesley
Roger C. O’Brien
Vern Noyes Gray
James H. Young
From Barbara Balch
Remembering lost days…
Today, many of us are reflecting on those men and women who lost their lives while defending their country. We also remember those who served their county well and were blessed to have served and gone on – to live, love, and laugh again,
And are no longer with us.
Gatherings, concerts, parties used to abound – but today, not so much.
This year, 2020, is different. We do not gather in crowds – at least in my neck of the woods – no recitations or songs of remembrance on the common – no enactments, nothing.
I miss that.
But what I miss more are the Memorial Days of my youth in Lyme. Big parades with McClures Band (and later the Lyme Town Band,) children dressed up as Uncle Sam riding bikes adorned with red, white, and blue crepe paper. Arthur Derby reciting the Gettysburg Address. Singing the National Anthem. Lyme’s American Legion Post and invited guests, in uniform, bearing arms, and flags. Proudly we marched behind them, usually twice ‘round the Common, and then (on alternating years) down Market St. to the bridge over Grant Brook, or south on Rt. 10 to that bridge over Grant Brook, and a wreath was committed to the waters in memory of those lives lost at sea. The parade then moved to the Lyme Cemetery and we circled quietly around the grave of a fallen, or former soldier. Silently, with bowed heads we listened as prayers were offered by the Pastor, three shots were fired by the Honor Guard, and Taps was played by the bugler who was standing a bit back – and an echo was heard softly, in the distance.
In memory of Lyme native, Cpl. John H Grant, US Army, WWIl, at whose grave we all once stood.
From Lynore Bolton
In Honor of All who have Served
Two family members served in WWII. Our Uncle – Harry Hultgren Jr. graduated from Bowdoin, joining the Naval Reserve as a midshipman. He served as Lieutenant Commander in submarine duty in the Pacific Theater. He was stationed in India and Western Australia aboard USS Narwhal, USS Bowfin, and USS Carbonaro. For his service he was awarded a Unit Citation and Combat Insignia with 2 stars. He returned to the states, becoming the US Attorney for Connecticut, Assistant State Attorney, later entering private practice.
My father, William R. Bolton Sr. joined the Navy as a Lieutenant JG after graduation from Syracuse University. We think he was assigned to the USS Glennon, a destroyer In the English Channel. June 8, 1944 it was offering gunfire support to troops ashore when it struck a mine off the coast of Normandy. On June 10 it was sunk by artillery batteries on shore. Dad returned to the states. He raised four children, had a successful career in sales, later opening his own business. Neither my father nor uncle spoke much about their military experiences. We thank them and all who served, and express sincere gratitude for your sacrifices. You are remembered and honored.
From Barbara Wilson
Remembering my grandmother
My grandmother, Barbara Ann DePersio, served in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) during WWII. She was based in Reno, Nevada and was a flight simulator pilot instructor.
While receiving the same stateside pay as men at the time ($21.00/mo) women of the WAC did not receive overseas pay (despite serving overseas), were not eligible for government life insurance and their next of kin could not collect their death gratuity if they were killed. In WWII, 160 women in the WAC died from various non-combat causes and WACs received over 639 awards including the Distinguisge Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Soldier’s Medal, Bronze Star, Air Medal and the Purple Heart. (From www.armyheritage.org)
From Jane Fant
Remembering Three Lyme Soldiers
The first Memorial Day took place in 1868 in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, overlooking Washington, D.C. Arlington was Robert E. Lee’s home in 1860. Early in the war, it was seized by the Union Army, and its grounds became a cemetery for the growing thousands of Union dead.
Many young men from Lyme volunteered to serve the Union cause, and many died. Their names are on the Soldier statue on the Lyme Common.
This is the story of three Lyme soldiers who enlisted together, fought together, died together, and are buried together in Lyme’s Old Cemetery*.
On August 14, 1862, three men from Lyme joined others enlisting in a new unit, the 11th Regiment of the New Hampshire Volunteers: Turner Grant, whose family still owns the brick house he lived in on East Thetford Road; his cousin John Gilbert; and Turner’s friend Charles Lovejoy, who was engaged to his sister, Callie Grant. All were placed in Company H.
After training, their Regiment was attached to the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Division of the Ninth Army Corps, commanded by Ambrose Burnside. In late fall they were marched to confront the rebel army—General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia — at Fredericksburg, Virginia. While they waited for pontoon bridges to arrive – and 10 more days as Burnside dithered — the enemy grew stronger and better fortified. Finally, on December 13, the battle commenced. Thousands paid a heavy price for this delay.
The Ninth Corps was committed on the battle’s third day. Wave after wave of attacks were ordered across an open plain, uphill. Soon the three Lyme soldiers were pinned down; to stand up or even move was to invite death. No one could help the wounded.
John Gilbert described the scene in a letter home:
“We had to march across a flat field a good way up under the fire and the mercy of the enemy. The shot and shell flew in every direction. Men were wounded and dying, some groaning. I tell you it was a pretty hard sight. We were in position just under a little rise… which made a kind of shelter from their galling fire. It would seem that nothing but a mad man would think of taking men into such a place. We loaded and fired as for our lives, sweating like a man mowing, our faces black with powder… It is said our regiment suffered more than any other.”
Turner Grant and Charles Lovejoy received slight wounds but all three survived the awful battle and ensuing weeks of marching and counter-marching in the cold and mud. On February 9, 1863, they were sent by train and steamers to Newport News, Virginia, for recuperation (R&R today). Initially they enjoyed bountiful food, pleasant surroundings, and mild weather. But illness was prevalent, and you may know that in the Civil War more than twice as many soldiers died from disease than in combat.
Measles struck the camp and also the three soldiers, who suffered from “complications,” probably pneumonia. All died in a military hospital: Charles Lovejoy, age 23, on March 5th; Turner Grant, age 22, the next morning; and John Gilbert, age 24, on March 12th.
Through a tragedy of errors, the families of the three soldiers were not notified of their deaths even though their bodies were shipped north by train. For an unknown reason, they were taken off the train in Canaan instead of East Thetford (the nearest station to Lyme). It was Saturday, and the station master did not want the caskets left there over Sunday. A Canaan man who knew where the Grants lived agreed to take them to Lyme on Sunday morning.
That Sunday, the Grants had walked the short distance to church as usual, but without Callie, who was out of town. As they returned and the house came into view, they could see three caskets on the front porch. That was how they learned of the three deaths.
Callie Grant, who lost a brother, a cousin, and a fiancé, eventually received a letter from another cousin who had shared a tent with the three men. He described the deaths of Charles and Turner, but not that of John Gilbert, who was expected to live.
“Now, while I am writing, they are embalming the bodies of our dear friends…in the tent where they used to live with us. [Charlie’s] face is mild and pleasant as the last visions which brightened and illuminated it.
I assure you, his comrades feel that they that they have lost two of their best boys. I know how you will weep at home. “
No funeral in the Lyme church had ever been so well-attended. A portion of the Reverend Erdix Tenney’s eulogy is engraved on the obelisk:
“Earnest and active in the Redeemer’s service, and united by the dearest ties of friendship, from the strong impulses of Christian duty and true patriotism, they enlisted in the 11th Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers August 14, 1962. Together they shared the vicissitudes of a soldier’s life and fought side by side at the battle of Fredericksburg. At Newport News, Virginia, stricken nearly together by the same disease, God’s finger touched them, and they slept. Their remains rest together beneath this monument until the Resurrection Morn. Lovely and pleasant in their lives, in their death they are not divided.”
*Please visit Lyme’s Old Cemetery, where veterans’ graves are marked with flags. The obelisk marking the grave of Turner Grant, Charles Lovejoy, and John Gilbert is in the southwestern section, near the south wall (roughly behind the Lyme Country Store). You are welcome to park at the Lyme Historians, next to the Country Store.
From Richard Pond
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.
Thanks and praise, for our days,
‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.
Sun has set, shadows come,
Time has fled, Scouts must go to their beds
Always true to the promise that they made.
While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.