Spirit of ’45 ceremony salutes WW II veterans


With only three days notice, over a dozen World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans, along with family and friends, converged on Westport Camping Grounds, Wednesday, May 7, at 11 a.m.

Martin Costa, manager of the family-owned camp, organized a ceremony to honor his Dad and camp owner, George Costa who served in Europe during World War II as an Army/Air Force radio dispatcher. He also met his wife, Tina, while stationed in Rome in 1946.

The ceremony, performed by Austin and Bonnie O’Neil of the organization, The Spirit of ’45, is held across the country as the O’Neils travel in their 35-foot motor home.

“Our purpose is to preserve the legacy and honor the sacrifice of the men and women who served in World War II, "Mr. O'Neil said. "We don’t want their incredible experiences of military service to be forgotten.”

Next year will be the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II with many national and state events slated to remember and honor this Greatest Generation.

“I was completely surprised and excited to see so many local vets" at the ceremony, Mr. Costa said. He credited Lino Rego, commander of Westport’s American Legion Post 60, with contacting fellow veterans. “It was touching when Lino introduced each Westport vet present and I fought back tears as he explained that these men are his heroes,” Mr. Costa said.

The ceremony specifically honored 86-year-old George Costa and his war bride wife, Tina.

“Dad met Mom in Rome, Italy, where he was stationed as a member of the US Army/Air Force,” Mr. Costa said. “I wanted to take this opportunity to honor him and his service as part of the Greatest Generation. And I also wanted as many local vets to be present so we could honor and thank them as well.”

After a brief speech, Mr. O’Neil played Taps on the bugle in memory of those who have passed. Mr. Costa thanked both Mr. Rego and Chuck Gregory, commander of the Fall River Amvets Post.





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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.