Twin Cities celebrates Veterans Day and honors activist Bert Dutil with a granite bench

Twin Cities celebrates Veterans Day and honors activist Bert Dutil with a granite bench

Ralph Sylvester, 98, a World Conflict II veteran from Auburn, and his good friend, Arlene Whichard, are greeted Friday by Crystal Guerrette of Honor Flight Maine throughout a Veterans Day occasion at Veterans Memorial Park in Lewiston. Andrée Kehn/Solar Journal

LEWISTON — Maybe not one of the lots of who attended Friday’s solemn ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park witnessed extra Veterans Day companies than Auburn’s Ralph Sylvester.

Everyone seems to be particular, he says.

The 98-year-old World Conflict II veteran was at Omaha Seaside on D-Day, fought within the Battle of the Bulge and constructed bridges over the Elbe that allowed American and British armies from the west and to Soviet Union forces within the east to hyperlink up for the primary time in direction of the tip of the battle in 1945.

“At present brings again a whole lot of reminiscences of everybody else who was killed,” Sylvester mentioned. “About 20% of our firm was killed within the Battle of the Bulge the place 3,500 anti-tank mines have been unknown to us.”

Sylvester, a soldier with the 295th Fight Engineers, added that the day brings again reminiscences of his time in England coaching and coaching for the D-Day invasion and remembers assembly Basic Dwight Eisenhower, Basic Omar Bradley and British Discipline Marshal Bernard Montgomery in the course of the planning phases.

Korean Conflict veteran Al Landry and Vietnam veteran Dan Libby stand for the nationwide anthem on Friday throughout a Veterans Day occasion at Veterans Memorial Park in Lewiston. Andrée Kehn/Solar Journal

On a sizzling, cloudy day in November, Sylvester and lots of of others celebrated the service of all veterans who served within the army, in instances of battle and peace, for his or her sacrifices on Friday.

A brand new granite bench has been devoted to the reminiscence of Bert Dutil, a widely known veteran activist and neighborhood chief who died in June 2022.

“It was his want,” mentioned Pat Crowell, his cousin. “He had all the knowledge written down for me.”

A Korean Conflict veteran, Dutil was pulled from the entrance line when his commanders realized he spoke French. Throughout the battle, Dutil served as an interpreter on the peace talks in Panmunjom, North Korea. Crowell mentioned Dutil witnessed the signing of the armistice in 1953.

Along with his picture, the bench honoring Dutil additionally lists his many veteran efforts and civic outreach, together with as founder and former president of the L&A Veterans Council, the group that created Veterans Memorial Park and hosted the ceremony. of Friday. He was additionally concerned in numerous Veterans of International Wars and American Legion positions within the Twin Cities.

Maybe his best impression was his 30-year involvement with the Pine Tree Warriors Drum and Bugle Corps.

“He helped us preserve the children off the streets, that is what I preserve saying,” mentioned Arlene Levesque, a household good friend who was a type of youngsters Dutil helped. on the age of 14. “The Pine Tree Warriors – they have been greater than only a household inside a household. He made households with youngsters who did not have dad and mom. He saved us busy. very cautious. “

James Thibideau performs “Wonderful Grace” on bagpipes Friday throughout a Veterans Day occasion at Veterans Memorial Park in Lewiston. On the correct are Gold Star moms Bethel Shields and Joyce Richmond, on the correct. Andrée Kehn/Solar Journal

The Veterans Day ceremony started with an examination led by Junior Air Drive ROTC cadets from Lewiston Excessive Faculty and Civil Air Patrol cadets from Auburn. Normal bearers from varied American Legion and VFW positions adopted, together with the Gold Star Moms, whereas James Thibodeau carried out the service chants on bagpipes.

The park’s thirty fourth commemorative marker has been unveiled and options the House Drive insignia. The stone lists the names of 153 native veterans.

Keynote speaker Jack Flowers, an creator from Auburn, spoke about his time in Vietnam as a tunnel rat, a specialised unit that might descend into the maze of underground tunnels on a search-and-destroy mission. Flowers mentioned he served on 97 harrowing missions because the chief of the first Tunnel Rat Infantry Unit.

“I wish to say the one purpose I did not die in Vietnam is as a result of they did not kill me,” Flowers mentioned. “They have been attempting to get me each day.”

He wrote about his experiences as a tunnel rat within the “Rat Six”.

Jack Flowers, creator of ‘Rat Six,’ primarily based on his profession as a commander of the Vietnam Conflict tunnel rats, speaks Friday throughout a Veterans Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park in Lewiston. “The one purpose I did not die in Vietnam is as a result of they did not kill me,” Flowers mentioned. Andrée Kehn/Solar Journal

He started his speech by reciting the poem “In Flanders Discipline”, written by a Canadian soldier of the First World Conflict. He mentioned he realized to recite the poem in major college and it held particular which means to him and his household, all of whom served within the First World Conflict. army.

The loudest standing ovation of the ceremony got here when Flowers spoke of his admiration for non-commissioned officers.

“One factor all of us be taught as veterans is that it is about your buddies,” Flowers mentioned. “And, as an officer, you additionally perceive that it is all the time the non-commissioned officers, who lead the joint.”

He thanks his household for serving to him reintegrate into society.

“Once I got here out of service, one factor that gave me nice encouragement was the proud nature of my household, so I am positive you and your households are all pleased with yourselves for what you’ve got achieved,” Flowers mentioned,

Remarks have been additionally made by Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline, Betty Ann Sheats, who represented town of Auburn, and Beth Staples, who learn a letter from U.S. Senator Susan Collins.

“I’m honored to be right here with you and to thank all of our veterans who risked their lives to maintain America secure and free. We’re grateful to you and your households,” Sheline mentioned. .

Monmouth’s Mike Adkins factors his identify to a brand new Veterans stone which was unveiled at a Veterans Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park in Lewiston on Friday. Andrée Kehn/Solar Journal


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