Over 68 years after the war’s end, Little Compton took time recently to recognize its World War II veterans.
On a Nov. 20 event at the Community Center, the Little Compton Grange saluted the town’s dozen remaining veterans. Five of those were present, the rest were given their plaques and presents later.
On hand that evening were:
• Alex Goulart, Navy
• Donald Gavin, Marines
• Leslie Molone, Army
• Pat Pond, Navy
• Roy Bonner, Navy
Other Little Compton residents who served but did not attend were:
• Edward Cissel, Army
• Thomas Duffy, Army
• William Makepeace, Merchant Marine
• Bill Middendorf, Navy
• Henry Robinson, Coast Guard
• Robert Syre, Marines
• Robert Wilber, Army Air Force
Plaques and gifts were sent to all seven by the Grange.
Sadly, Mr. Elwell said, two of Little Compton’s World War II veterans passed away during the summer while the event was being planned — William Manchester and Phil Petrarca.
Daughters of both men attended the event and accepted plaques and gifts on their behalf.
The grange’s Walter Elwell said that Grange organizations across the country have been honoring World War II veterans and that the Little Compton Grange decided to join that effort.
When the Grange made that decision in March, Mr. Elwell and his wife Norma volunteered for the task of locating and inviting the town’s World War II veterans.
“We figured that it wouldn’t be to difficult — just go to the American Legion, the Fire Department, Town Hall and get the list … It didn’t turn out quite that way.”
Although there is a bronze plaque on The Commons, there is no authoritative list of World War II veterans that they could find. The job is complicated by the fact that some moved to town well after the war ended, others moved away.
That Commons plaque bears the words, “In honor of the men and women of Little Compton who served in World War II.” It bears 133 names and, in the lower right corner, has the names of two people who served in the American Field Service and three who served in the Merchant Marines.
“It was a wonderful event,” Mr. Elwell said, attended by over 80 people. “Very moving and well deserved.”
Speakers came from the American Legion and the veterans committees of both the Rhode Island and Massachusetts state Granges.
Charles Appleton spoke for the Little Compton Town Council, John Faria for the Fire Department, Marjorie O’Toole for the Little Compton Historical Society and the Rev. Robert Hollis of Acoaxet Chapel offered a prayer.
“It was humbling to be in the presence of these veterans who actually participated in World War II,” said Mr. Appleton, himself a Vietnam veteran. “I was in awe … one of them, I know he doesn’t like the spotlight, was on the beach at Normandy on DDay … I was simply there to convey the gratitude of Little Compton for what every one of them went through.”
In addition to applause and a plaque, each veteran received gifts including homemade bread, jelly and cookies.
They also received a standing invitation, made possible by firefighting organizations, to visit the World War II monument in Washington, DC — contact the Fire Department for details.
— If there are any living Little Compton World War II veterans not mentioned here, we’d appreciate hearing about them. Call 253-6000 ext 215 or email [email protected]