The Historic Warren Armory on Jefferson Street played a fitting backdrop to a Veterans’ Day ceremony that recognized local veterans for their service to the country, and their ongoing service to the community.
The Historic Warren Armory on Jefferson Street played a fitting backdrop to a Veterans’ Day ceremony that took place on Sunday evening, which featured multiple local veterans being recognized for their service to the country, and their ongoing service to the community here in Warren.
Leading the occasion was Historic Warren Armory Board of Directors President, Brigadier General Richard J. Valente (U.S. Army, Ret.), who started things off by bringing long-time volunteer and advocate for the Armory, Edward Theberge, to the front.
“I can’t find the words to express everything he’s done,” Valente said. “We have put about $400,000 into the restoration of the building as you see it tonight. Tonight it reflects its 1840s grandeur, and that is largely due to Ed.”
Theberge not only received a plaque commending his service to the armory, he was informed that the gathering hall where the ceremony was taking place would forever be known as “Ed Theberge Hall”.
Before continuing with commendations, the attention was turned to a cannon that was shrouded in a large red covering. The cannon had an interesting history, which was reported by Tim Pray, who serves as the Armory board’s Secretary.
Pray said the cannon was one of two 18th-century cannons that had been displayed outside of Warren Town Hall. When the cannon’s carriage began to rot, it was taken away to the town yard, where it was unbelievably stolen by someone, and cut up into scrap.
“When they found out they couldn’t cash them in for the metal, they dumped them in the pond at Roger Williams Park,” Pray said.
The discarded pieces emerged shortly afterwards when the water levels receded during the summer, and the pieces were returned to Warren. Captain Joseph Giammarco, of the historic United Train of Artillery, then organized a fundraising campaign to raise around $36,000 to restore the cannon to its former glory. A plaque dedicated to Giammarco was recognized shortly after the cannon was unveiled.
Next up was Al Galinelli, former Chief of the Warren Fire Department and veteran of the United States Navy. Armory board member David Foehr presented Galinelli’s history in the Navy, service during the Vietnam War, and through his rise in the Warren Fire Department.
“[Galinelli] was deployed at height of the Vietnam War below deck as a boiler technician,” Foehr said. “The mission was to provide gunfire support for our troops on the ground in various combat missions as Al and his mates worked in an environment that was unbelievable hot, with temperatures many times if not always between 100 and 140 degrees in the boiler environment, the noise of the oil-fired engines and the smell of the fuel oil made for a very negative work environment indeed. We all learned years later of the dangers of asbestos that was present on most if not all of the Navy vessels.”
“Nevertheless, Al did his job.”
Following the war, Galinelli worked as a boiler technician at Brown University and became a lieutenant with the Warren Fire Department’s Engine 1, while working full-time as a firefighter on the Newport Naval Base, where he would eventually become a captain. In 1988, Galinelli became the volunteer fire chief in Warren, and in 1995 he was appointed as the full-time fire chief.
“Al was probably one of the best selections I made during my time as Town Council president,” said State Sen. Walter Felag Jr. “Because of his dedication to the fire department, but also his dedication to the community.”
Finally, another Warren veteran — whose ongoing commitment to the community and to fellow veterans is chronicled in another story this week — was brought to the front.
David McCarthy served for four and a half years with the United States Marine Corps during the height of the Vietnam War, serving in combat roles as a squad leader and platoon sergeant with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. Following his service, he wound up in Warren, where he has essentially not stopped advocating for veterans issues since, alongside his wife, Judith Fardig.
McCarthy serves as Commander of the Warren American Legion Post #104, served as the co-founder of the Warren Association of Vietnam Veterans, is the chairman of the Warren Veterans Honor Roll Committee, and served as chairman of the committee that brought a replica of the Washington Vietnam War Memorial to Providence. He was recently appointed by the General Assembly to a small committee of veterans working to design and construct a Rhode Island Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
McCarthy recognized that he was grateful to be a part of a community with such rich history, mentioning that a casual stroll through the South Burial Ground can lead you to the graves of important historical soldiers, such as Col. Nathan Goff, who commanded the 37th Colored Troops Regiment in the Civil War.
“We walk in hallowed grounds here in Warren, and I’m just happy to be a very small part of what’s taken place in the Town of Warren,” he said.
To finish the ceremony, veteran Michael Clancy read a brief history of Col. William Barton, another Warren native who made big waves but has not received adequate recognition for his deeds, with Clancy calling him “A real American hero of the Revolutionary War that you’ve never heard of.”
Clancy reported that Barton, born in 1748 to a haberdasher, would eventually go on to lead a small team of men on what can only be described as one of the earliest known American special forces operations, where they snuck up the Sakonnet River, through Mt. Hope Bay and into Narragansett Bay, dodging British ships and eventually landing near Middletown.
The mission was to capture British Lt. General Richard Prescott, who had become known to inhabit a farm that today is known as Prescott Farm. Col. Barton and his men were successfully able to infiltrate the lightly-guarded farm house and captured Prescott half-dressed, taking him to Providence and ultimately trading him for General Charles Lee.
“The capture of General Prescott was a significant propaganda victory for the American forces,” Clancy said. “It showed that the British High command were vulnerable and raised the morale of the American troops.”
For his actions, Barton was awarded $1,000, which he split with his men. He would later be chosen to deliver Rhode Island’s signature of the U.S. Constitution to General George Washington.