Showing posts with label Korean War. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Korean War. Show all posts

Friday, June 21, 2024

Community mourns loss of beloved Korean War veteran Walter Braley Jr.

By Ed Pierce

One of the humblest military heroes you’ll ever meet and a genuine friend to everyone who knew him has died at the age of 92.

U.S. Marine Corps and Korean War veteran Walter
Braley Jr. waves to parade vehicles driving by his
home in the Cornerbrook subdivision in Windham
on his 90th birthday on Oct. 10, 2021. Braley
died on Father's Day, June 16, at the age of 92.
Korean War veteran Walter Braley Jr. of Windham passed away peacefully at his home in the Cornerbrook subdivision on Father’s Day, June 16.

Born in Somesville, a village on Mount Desert Island in Maine, as the only child of Walter Sr. and Eva Braley, his family moved to Scarborough when he was 10 so that his parents could work in a shipyard there. He attended schools in Scarborough until he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1947 at the age of 17. Braley completed basic training at Camp Lejune in North Carolina and then was sworn in for active military duty by the late Maine U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith.

He rose to the rank of Sergeant in the Marines and was stationed at bases in Cuba and California and then was sent to South Korea during the Korean War. While in Korea, one of his duties was to patrol the DMZ, the no man’s land separating South Korea from its hostile North Korea neighbor.

“I walked across the DMZ before Donald Trump ever did a few years ago when he did so with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un,” Braley said. “I did it first.”

While stationed at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, Braley was asked to transport up a fellow Marine to the base, and it turned out to be future county music superstar George Jones, who was just about to launch his recording career.

Braley said they became good friends, and he would accompany Jones when he would go out with his friends on weekend leave and perform songs in exchange for drinks.

Years later when Jones was in Maine to perform a concert, he introduced the audience to Braley and asked him where he had been since he last saw him in the 1950s.

“Right here,” Braley is said to have told him.

Because of an injury he sustained in Korea, Braley was discharged from the Marines at the rank of Sergeant and returned home to Maine. He found work with the Delaware Feed Grain Store, as a truck driver for Maine Egg, a dog groomer for Dutton Animal Hospital in Saco and then at the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook, a position from which he retired after 35 years of service. Braley was a longtime pet owner and served as a Maine State Humane Agent and an advocate for suffering animals.

Following his retirement, Braley spent time volunteering for the Bruce Roberts Fund and Meals on Wheels. As a veteran, he became active in Windham Post 10643 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham.

He was a member of the First Baptist Church in Westbrook, holding various board positions and serving on other church committees.

On his 90th birthday in October 2021, a parade was held outside his home to commemorate his birthday and at that event Braley was presented with a Quilt of Honor by Cindy Beaulieu of the Quilts of Honor group.

“First we honor you for your service,” Beaulieu told Braley. “Second, freedom is not free, and we thank you for your service. We hope this quilt brings comfort to you as you are forever in our thoughts and in our hearts.”

Braley said receiving the quilt and having a parade in his honor was one of the most moving experiences of his lifetime.

““I just want to say thanks to everyone for coming out here today and recognizing me in this way,” Braley said. “You’ve made me feel appreciated and you can’t ask for more than that in this life. I’m deeply grateful and to all my fellow Marines, I say Semper Fi.”

Known affectionately to his family as “Junie,” Braley loved to hunt, fish, and spend time with his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren at their camp on Thomas Pond.

Surviving Braley are his wife Nina, four daughters, one son, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 22 at the First Baptist Church of Westbrook, 733 Main St. in Westbrook. A graveside ceremony with full military honors will be conducted for Braley at the South Gorham Cemetery on Burnham Road in Gorham. <

Friday, December 9, 2022

Korean War veteran devotes life to helping others

By Ed Pierce

When Jerry Black closes his eyes, he can still picture the engine room of the USS Johnston, a U.S. destroyer he served on for four years during the Korean War.

Black, 94, enlisted in the U.S. Navy while in high school and received his diploma from Farmington High School while serving as a throttle man on the destroyer in 1949. Over the span of four years, he rose in rank to Petty Officer Second Class and his military service became the springboard to success as a high school teacher and continues to this very day.

At the age of 94, Jerry Black remains active in the community,
serving as vice president of the Little Meetinghouse board of
directors and a member of the American Legion and VFW in
Windham. He served aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer during
the Korean War and taught industrial arts at Falmouth High
School before retiring. He is also an artist in Windham.
“The USS Johnston spent a lot of time in the Mediterranean Sea,” Black said. “The Russians tried to infiltrate ports in Greece, Turkey, Albania, Yugoslavia, and Northern Italy and our job was to block them from doing that and continuing World War II. They say we chased Russian submarines all day and they chased us all night.”

On board ship, Black was known for his knack at cutting sailor’s hair and willingness to pitch in and help solve diesel mechanical problems when challenges arose while at sea. He was also the ship’s master at arms and in charge of drainage control for the destroyer.

When he was discharged, Black returned to Maine to live with his parents in Farmington and briefly worked side by side with his father at a barber shop there. But before long, Black chose to attend college and enrolled at Gorham State Teacher’s College to study industrial arts.

“In my first class, there were 20 students and 11 of us were veterans,” he said. “The toughest part of going to college was transitioning from the military way of life to trying to study for school.”

In 1955, Black met fellow Gorham State Teacher’s College student Mildred Hammond of South Paris, who was two years ahead of him in school. They fell in love and got married that same year. Two years later in 1957, Black graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Gorham State Teacher’s College and applied for a teaching position at Falmouth High School.

“It was a brand-new school that had just been built,” Black said. “I graduated in the spring from college, and they hired me as the industrial arts teacher there for that fall. It was a state-of-the-art school, and everyone called it the Portland Country Club School.”

While he was teaching at Falmouth High, his wife Mildred was launching her own career as a history and social sciences teacher at Windham High School. When Jerry retired from teaching after a 25-year career in 1981, Mildred was still working at Windham High and finished a 26-year career as an educator there before retiring.

After retiring from teaching, Jerry worked as a manager for senior housing in North Windham and both he and Mildred traveled to 36 different countries and across the United States, spending winters in San Diego, California.

More than 25 years ago Jerry Black joined the American Legion and VFW in Windham and served on a committee building the Windham Veterans Center in the 1990s. Mildred and Jerry Black were married

for 62 years before her death at the age of 84 in 2017.

The couple had no children but in traveling the world, they did have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while visiting England. Some friends had invited them to join them for a tea party in the courtyard of Windsor Castle for Boy Scouts and teachers hosted by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

“We met the queen and shook her hand as she stood in a reception line,” Black said. “That was an extraordinary experience.”

It wasn’t the first queen though that Black had met. While serving on board the USS Johnston years earlier, the ship had docked in Athens, Greece, and Black was sent ashore to greet Queen Frederika of Greece and to escort her back to the ship for a luncheon with the USS Johnston’s officers.

And those were not the only world leaders that Black would be so fortunate to meet. While he and Mildred were attending graduate school at the University of Maryland in the 1950s, they learned that U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower was hosting for British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the White House in nearby Washington, D.C. The couple traveled there and somehow made it through the White House gate and then got to shake Churchill’s hand while he met the public on the White House grounds.

Among his many accomplishments in life, Black says that he’s proud of something he was able to do as a teenager that endures to this day.

“While I was going into the 11th grade, I bought a Model T Fire Engine for $45,” he said. “I then spent $45 more on tires that I bought from Montgomery Ward. I fixed it all up and believe it or not, that fire engine is still running today and is on loan to a museum. I have arranged it so it becomes the museum’s permanently when I’m gone.”

According to Black, his proudest moment came in 2018 when he was honored to be chosen to receive an Honor Flight to fly to Washington and got to see the World War II and other memorials there with a group of other Maine veterans.

“I also got to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and that was very moving and

humbling,” he said.

He keeps busy these days by serving as vice president of Windham’s Little Meetinghouse, a restored historical building available to rent for public functions. Initially Black served as the president of the Little Meetinghouse board but has now stepped into the vice president’s role to give others a chance at leadership of the organization.

Black has also helped five young men attend college, the latest of those being James Mannette of Windham, who recently graduated from the US. Air Force Academy.

Mannette says that Black has inspired him to take on bigger challenges in his life.

“Jerry has been an incredible role model to me in that he is like a second father,” said Mannette. “My father passed away when I was in high school, and Jerry helped me learn things that my father would have taught me if he was here.”

Much of his time now is spent with his fellow veterans, joining them for meetings, sharing coffee and at special events.

“Being a part of the American Legion and the VFW is a kind of a brotherhood for me,” Black said. “It’s a team like when I was on board ship. They mean a great deal to me.” <

Friday, March 5, 2021

Quilts of Valor recognize trio of local ‘Greatest Generation’ veterans

Members of the Maine Quilts of Valor organization presented
quilts to three local veterans honoring their military service
during World War II and the Korean War. Shown from left with
their quilts are Korean War veteran Jerry Black of Standish, 92,
World War II veteran Carroll McDonald of Windham, 96, and 
World War II veteran Bob Miehle of South Windham, 98.
Eagle Cane also presented during special gathering in Windham

By Ed Pierce

Members of the “Greatest Generation” fought to protect America from tyranny and oppression during World War II and the Korean War and their bravery, sacrifices and valor are shining examples of what patriotism truly means. On Wednesday morning, a special gathering at the Windham Veterans Center showed heartfelt appreciation to a trio of local veterans over the age of 90 who gave unselfishly to help preserve our freedom.

World War II veterans Carroll McDonald, 96, and Bob Miehle, 98, both of Windham, and Korean War veteran Jerry Black of Standish, 92, were awarded Quilts of Valor for their service to our nation and McDonald, who celebrated his 96th birthday on Monday, March 1 was honored by American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 with the presentation of a special Eagle Cane for his time as a U.S. Army Air Corps P-51 pilot.

Donna Brookings, the Maine State Coordinator for Quilts of Valor, told those gathered for the occasion that the organization was founded in 2003 by the mother of a soldier deployed to Iraq. She had an idea that a quilt could be given to veterans who have been touched by war as a means of comfort to them.

The idea took off and there are now Quilt of Valor chapters in all 50 states, including Maine. Each Quilt of Valor is a quality handmade quilt made of three distinct layers.

According to Brookings, each quilt’s colorful top featuring unique shapes and fabrics representing the many unique communities and individuals of America, with second underlying filler area representing warmth, comfort, and peace. The third backing layer symbolizes the strength of each recipient of this honor and the support of each family, the community, and our nation. Each stitch in the quilts holding all the layers together represents the love and gratitude of the person who made them. 

In presenting the quilts to McDonald, Miehle and Black, Brookings told them there were three reasons they were being awarded these Quilts of Valor.

“First, we honor you for your service in the United States military. We honor you for leaving all you hold dear and to stand in harm’s way in a time of crisis, protecting us from the effects of war,” Brookings said. “Second, we know that freedom is not free. The cost of freedom is the dedication of lives of men and women like you, and this quilt is meant to say thank you for your sacrifice. Third, these quilts are meant to offer comfort to you, and to remind you that although your family and friends cannot be with you at all times, you are forever in our thoughts and our hearts.”

Brookings said since its inception, Quilts of Valor has now presented more than 268,000 quilts nationwide and will continue to do so for as long as veterans continue to serve America.

American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 Adjutant David Tanguay then awarded McDonald with a handcrafted Eagle Cane to recognize his contributions to the nation as a World War II veteran.

The Eagle Cane Project originated in Oklahoma and was introduced in Maine in 2008. Woodcarver Jack Nitz of Tulsa, Oklahoma launched the Eagle Cane Program after watching an ABC News television segment in 2004 about post-Sept. 11 veterans. Nitz, who served in the Navy from 1948 to 1957, said he realized there was "a little something" that he, as a woodcarver and cane maker, could do to let injured veterans know they had support from people in their community and to also honor them for their service. The Eagle Cane program has now spread to 32 different states, including Maine, and is a collaborative initiative that awards quality hand-carved personalized Eagle Head canes to deserving veterans in recognition for their service to the United States.

On Veterans Day in November 2020, Black received an Eagle Cane and Miehle also received one during a special parade in South Windham in recognition of his 98th birthday on Jan. 25.

During Wednesday’s festivities, McDonald and Miehle said that they both attended Windham High School and they graduated together in the same class in June 1942.

McDonald was born on a farm in South Windham and said for as long as he can remember, he was interested in learning to fly and airplane.

“When I was about 4-years-old, I heard a bi-plane flying near a school and was fascinated by it,” McDonald said. “The sound of it going up and down and buzzing all around stirred my interest and it never left me when I was growing up.”

Knowing that he was about to be drafted, McDonald volunteered to join the U.S. Air Army Air Corps as long as he could train to become a military pilot.

In 1943 he was given a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant and sent to an Army flight school in Alabama and then for training as a P-51 pilot at Page Field in Fort Myers, Florida. He received his flight wings in 1944 and spent the remainder of the war in Fort Myers flying P-51s, a long range, single-seat fighter-bomber used during World War II and the Korean War.

“I joined because it was an opportunity to be well-trained and a chance to fly every single day,” McDonald said. 

Following his active-duty discharge in 1945, he attended business school using the GI Bill and in 1951 while fulfilling his military commitment in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant.

He returned to Maine and joined the U.S. Post Office as a rural postal delivery driver, a job he worked for 32 years, delivering mail in South Windham and on River Road until his eventual retirement. He joined the American Legion’s Field-Allen Post 148 in 1951 and served as Post Commander and performed many other jobs for the group through the years.

After his retirement, McDonald also logged more than 20 years delivering Meals on Wheels to area seniors for 20 years and is a regular at the Weekly Veterans Coffee every Wednesday at the Windham Veterans Center.

“I’m very appreciative to everyone for recognizing me in this way and remembering my birthday,” McDonald said.  

Miehle also grew up in South Windham and was drafted in the U.S. Army, serving through 1945 in the U.S. Army’s European Theater in England, France and Germany. He worked as a T5 Signal Corps Early Warning Radar Operator tracking enemy aircraft and German V-1 buzz bombs. He went on to own and operate Patsy’s store in South Windham for many years and volunteered as a fireman at the South Windham Fire Station.   

Black served in the U.S. Navy for four years during the 1950s and the Korean War and following his time in the military, he attended Gorham State Teacher’s College and became a teacher. He taught shop, drafting and woodworking for many years at Falmouth High School before retiring and was awarded a trip to Washington, D.C. to tour the military memorials there by Honor Flight Maine. <    

Friday, November 20, 2020

Dream Come True: Korean War veteran receives medals 70 years later

U.S. Army veteran Edward 'Ed' Salmon of
Windham displays medals, ribbons and a
certificate he received during a special
ceremony on Veterans Day at the Windham
Veterans Center. Salmon, 91, never received
the medals for his military service during the
Korean War following his discharge and return
to civilian life in 1952. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE   

By Ed Pierce

Nearly 70 years ago, Edward “Ed” Salmon answered the call to be drafted into the U.S. Army and logged two years creating critical lines of communication for soldiers in combat zones on the Korean Peninsula during the Korean War. When his time in the Army was up, Salmon returned to the United States vowing to make a life for himself, but there was always something missing.

On Veterans Day, Salmon, 91, of Windham, who went on to earn a college degree in civil engineering and served for 20 years as the Director of Plant Facilities for the University of Maine at Orono, was brought full-circle to his military career when he was awarded five medals and two ribbons for his service in Korea.

Born in 1929 in Cornwells Heights, Pennsylvania, Salmon just missed being drafted for service in World War II because he was too young, but as he was approaching his 21st birthday in December 1950, he was drafted and was among the first soldiers to train for eight weeks at the newly reopened Fort Meade in Maryland. From there Private First Class Salmon was sent to Fort Benning in Georgia for further training and then he swapped places with a fellow solder going home on a hardship discharge and was sent to Korea early in 1951.

“It was brutally hot in the summer there and 20 to 40 degrees below zero in the winter,” Salmon said. “And it rained all spring.”

Working in heavily fortified areas, he learned to climb telephone poles and crisscrossed much of the
Korean Peninsula building, installing and maintaining communications lines. It was tough and dangerous work, under constant watch by the enemy and sometimes being shot at.

Because of the nature of their mission, his unit didn’t receive much recognition by the Eighth Army based in Tokyo and to a man was overlooked for promotions in rank and unheralded for their work under some of the most trying conditions of the war.

“I didn’t particularly care for any of it,” Salmon said. “You were constantly on the move and I didn’t like Korean food.”

After spending almost 13 months in the combat zone, Salmon was discharged and back in the USA by February 1953, feeling lucky to have survived the experience.

He was accepted for admission to the University of Maine and earned a Bachelor of Science degree. He began his civilian career working as a structural design consultant for a Massachusetts firm and then returned to Maine to work for a construction company in Yarmouth.

Salmon married his first wife and they had four sons together. After his marriage fell apart, he met his current wife, Pat, in Portland and they have been married for 37 years, moving to Windham about 15 years ago.

“He didn’t talk about his time in the military,” Pat Salmon said. “About four or five years ago, we started going to the Togus VA Center for a  hearing problem he has and it was then he started thinking and talking about the medals he never received for his military service.”

She said that he knew he had been awarded some medals for his time in Korea but had never physically received them.

“It was something that had passed long ago,” Salmon said. “I did my job and came back. But I had a life to lead and went on with my life. Over the years I forgot all about them.”

Being around other veterans at the Togus VA Center rekindled his desire to obtain his medals, he said.

Pat Salmon helped him fill out paperwork to receive his medals, but a few issues stalled the process.

“His DD 214 discharge papers had his birthday wrong,” she said. “They had his birthday off by one day and getting that corrected took some time.”

The Salmons then met Lin and David Tanguay, who live in their neighborhood. Lin Tanguay told Pat Salmon that her husband David could help in Ed Salmon’s quest to receive his medals and suggested that they join the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham.

In his role as Adjutant of the American Legion post, David Tanguay was able to obtain the medals for
Ed Salmon.

During a special ceremony at the Windham Veterans Center on Veterans Day, Salmon received not three medals as he had thought he had coming, but five medals and two ribbons.

He received the National Defense Service Medal Award retroactive to 1950; the Korean War Service Medal, the United Nations Korean War Service Medal; the Korean Commemorative Medal; the Korean Service Medal; the U.S. Army Presidential Citation Ribbon; and the Korean Presidential Citation ribbon.

“I was very pleased to get them and with two of my kids there to watch me receive them,” Salmon said.

The framed medals, ribbons and a commemorative certificate from the American Legion now occupy a prominent place in the family’s living room and are a source of great pride for them.   

According to Pat Salmon, the family is grateful to Tanguay and the American Legion for helping fulfill Ed Salmon’s dream of receiving the medals he earned in Korea and for the camaraderie of being around other veterans.

“He needed the social outlet,” Pat Salmon said. “It has allowed him to meet and talk with others who have shared his experience. We can’t thank David and his wife Lin enough for their efforts in introducing us to the group and helping make this such a memorable time for us.” <

Friday, November 6, 2020

Windham veteran salutes community for honoring his military service

Charlie Melanson of Windham, 89, shows a
photograph of his days serving in the U.S. Navy
aboard the USS Coral Sea as a sailor during the
Korean War. He is at the far left on the top row of
the photo and says he's grateful for continually
being recognized and honored as a veteran by
the community. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
By Ed Pierce

By his own admission, Navy veteran Charlie Melanson of Windham, 89, has accomplished a great deal in life, but he wants everyone to know that on this Veteran’s Day, he owes a huge debt of gratitude for those who have honored his military service in so many unique ways.

It seems wherever Melanson goes in the community while wearing his USS Sea Coral cap, people have honored him by purchasing his lunch, paying for his tab at Lowe’s or buying his dinner. In the past year he’s been the recipient of an Honor Flight to the nation’s capital and was brought to tears when a group of women stopped at his home and presented him with a handmade “Quilt of Valor” thanking him for his service to the nation.

“There’s just something about that USS Coral Sea hat,” Melanson said. “I don’t put it on to show it off, I put it on because I’m proud of it. I am just looking for a way to say thanks for everything that people have done for me and to let them know I am so grateful for remembering my military service.”

Originally from Massachusetts, Melanson was born in 1931 and was raised in a foster home. He was too young to serve in World War II, but when the chance arose to join the Navy in 1948, he gladly welcomed that opportunity.

“Joining the Navy was like going to heaven,” Melanson said. “The foster home was in was like living in hell and I truly loved being on the water and away from there. I liked the food and didn’t mind the military discipline. It was my freedom from growing up as a foster kid.”

His first assignment was to serve as a crewman on board a Navy destroyer, a rusty World War II-era warship that sailed across the Atlantic Ocean bringing U.S. Marines to Europe. When an opening came up to train for 18 weeks as a refrigeration technician at Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois, Melanson volunteered and after mastering  that skill, he was reassigned to the USS Coral Sea, a Midway class aircraft carrier during the Korean War.

“The USS Coral Sea was so much larger and much more modern than the destroyer I was first on,” Melanson said. “It was such a huge vessel and at that time, the Navy was transitioning from AJ-1 propeller bombers to F7U Cutlass fighter jet aircraft.”

Besides working on refrigeration units and air conditioning systems on the USS Coral Sea, Melanson also helped maintain aircraft catapult systems aboard the aircraft carrier which helped planes take off
and land on it while at sea and he did small engine repair work. 

But when his enlistment was up, he decided it was time to return home.

“I had four years in the Navy and thought it was pretty good, but I was ready for the next step,” Melanson said.

In Massachusetts, he met and married his wife Dale and they moved permanently to Maine in 1952. Settling first in Westbrook and then later in Windham, the couple raised three sons, including one they adopted.

Charlie performed construction work for local companies and eventually founded his own construction firm, Melanson & Son. In 1970, he designed and built a facility on Route 302 in Windham to serve as the company offices for Melanson & Son. It is now the home of the Windham Flower Shop.

Diagnosed with prostate cancer which may have spread to his bones, Melanson has been undergoing treatment this fall and has had trouble getting around. He’s been searching for a way to show his appreciation to the public for remembering his status as a veteran.

“I was at Duck Pond Variety because I love their fried chicken and a man walked up to me and started a conversation with me about his father and his father’s time in the military,” Melanson said. “When I went to pay for my fried chicken, the clerk told me that the man I was talking to had already paid for my meal and had left the store. I was stunned that someone I didn’t know would do that for me.”

On several other occasions, while eating at the IHOP Restaurant with his wife, people noticed his “USS Sea Coral” hat and walked over to ask him about his military service.

“When we asked for the check several times while leaving IHOP, we were told that someone else had paid for our dinner and we don’t even know who it was that did that for us,” Melanson said. “It truly touched our hearts.”

Then there was another time when Melanson went to Lowe’s and was chatting with a man in front of him in the checkout line who was with a small boy.

“By the time I reached the cashier, I was told my purchase had been paid for by the man I was speaking with and his son who had already left the building,” he said.

In April, Melanson was among a group of Maine veterans to be given an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. to tour the memorials there dedicated to American military members and he proudly displays a cherished photograph of him leaving for that trip with his active duty military sponsor.

About three weeks ago, Dale Melanson was at home caring for her husband and answered a knock at the door. It was a group of women asking to speak to her husband.

“They were from the Quilt of Honor Foundation and they presented Charlie with a beautiful handmade quilt with a Navy theme and a certificate honoring his military service,” she said. “He is so pleased with it and I am so touched that they took the time to do that for him.”

As someone who has experienced a lot during his lifetime, Melanson said he tried to hold back tears when he received the quilt, but just couldn’t.

“That was such a nice thing to do, I broke down and cried and cried,” he said. “People are so good to me and that quilt came at just the right time and is so warm and comfortable.”

Melanson said he’s deeply moved by all of the expressions of gratitude that complete strangers have shown him.

“When I got of the Navy at Norfolk, Virginia in 1952, I was just another sailor and people paid me no attention,” he said. “I think the terrorist attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001 really woke Americans up and since then it seems more people appreciate what veterans have done and the sacrifices they have made for our country.”   

This Veterans Day, Charlie Melanson has a message he urgently wants to get out to the public.

“For all these people who have done such wonderful things for me and pay for my meals at no charge, I have no way to thank them. I simply want to thank those who have recognized me as a veteran and have gone out of their way to show me kindness. It truly means a lot to me and I feel blessed to be recognized for serving in the Navy in this way.” <