Showing posts with label veteran. Show all posts
Showing posts with label veteran. 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, July 7, 2023

Don Rogers Scholarship Dinner nearing in Windham

By Ed Pierce

Those who knew Don Rogers of Windham admired him greatly and although he’s no longer with us, his spirit of kindness and willingness to help others lives on in a special program that awards college scholarships to deserving students in the Lakes Region every spring.

The late World War II veteran Don Rogers was a member of
American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 for 62 years and
served as Post Commander on four separate occasions. A
college scholarship dinner in his honor will be held at the
Windham Veterans Center on Saturday, July 22.
Sponsored by Windham’s American Legion Field-Allen Post 148, this year’s Don Rogers Scholarship Dinner will be held on Saturday, July 22 with all proceeds from the meal to be used to help area students pursue their dreams of higher education. The popular dinner has become a favorite mid-summer tradition for many families in Windham, and organizers are hoping to raise at least $1,000 through this fundraiser for the scholarships.

Donald Farris Rogers was 94 when he passed away in May 2020. He was born Sept. 21, 1925, and lived most of his life in Windham Center, except for the winters that he and his wife, Norma, spent in St. Cloud, Florida and during his military service. He was a graduate of Windham High School in the Class of 1944.

Rogers served in the Army Air Corps and trained to be a fighter pilot before World War II ended in August 1945. He returned to Windham and worked for his father, M. L. Rogers, as a construction equipment operator in town. In 1954, he married Norma Kimball, and they raised two sons, Donald Scott Rogers, and Dale K. Rogers, in Windham.

He loved sports and athletics, and played baseball, basketball, track, swimming, and horseshoes. Through the years, Rogers formed a local basketball team and supplied the uniforms for the players. He also coached Little League baseball.

“Don believed in our youth. As the Post Commander, he presented students each year with the Legion School Leadership Award,” said David Tanguay, American Legion Post 148 adjutant. “I was a recipient in 1965 and continue to cherish that award. The scholarship is now coupled with the Legion award from this fundraiser and dinner, and I think he would be humbled by the honor that it is named after him.”

Tanguay said that Rogers was fun to be around. “He always had such a great smile,” Tanguay said. “Don could light up a room with his stories and one-liners. Don was a prankster and loved a good laugh. I have seen photos of him in costume on 4-foot stilts at the old Hawkes Grocery, now Corsetti’s, regaling a crowd.”

Being active in the community was something Rogers was known for. He belonged to the Presumpscot Lodge #70 of Masons - Scottish Rite, the WHS Alumni Association and the Windham Historical Society. Rogers joined American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in 1947 and served as Post Commander on four different occasions.

“His father Maurice was one of the original Post 148 founders in 1938, and his brother, Wayne, was also a member,” Tanguay said. “Just doing the math, many, many veterans came to know the Rogers family and Don.”

He delighted in spending time with his family and neighbors and just about everyone that he met became a good friend.

“Commander Don Rogers was a well-loved member of the Windham Community, the Grand Marshal at the annual Memorial Day parade for many years, and a fixture later in life at the local variety, Corsetti’s, stopping for coffee and sharing his experiences to all who would spend some time with him.”

One Windham resident who came to know Rogers is Dana Reed, the chaplain of American Legion Post 148 and former pastor of the North Windham Union Church from 2000 to 2013.

“I grew up like a lot of folks in Windham and knew him as a veteran and a great person,” Reed said. “I'll be supremely surprised if his scholarship doesn't top much, much higher. I can't think of many, if not asked directly, who wouldn't put a $100 down for this man.”

In 2019, Post 148 members chose to honor Rogers by renaming their annual student scholarship program for him, something that made Rogers very proud, Tanguay said. This spring’s Don Rogers scholarship recipients were Al Potter and Delana Perkins, both 2023 graduates of Windham High School. Potter will attend Princeton University to study astrophysical science and Perkins will attend the Rochester Institute of Technology to study civil engineering.

The annual Don Rogers Scholarship Dinner starts at 5 p.m. Saturday, July 22 at the Windham Veterans Center, 35 Veterans Memorial Drive, North Windham. The meal is an old-fashioned bean supper, and the cost is $10 per person with children under 12 admitted free. Additional donations for the scholarships will be welcomed. There will also be a 50/50 raffle at the event with proceeds to go to the scholarships.

For those who wish to donate but will not be able to attend the dinner, contributions can be sent to the Don Rogers Scholarship at: Post 148-Scholarship, PO Box 1776, Windham, Maine 04062. <

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

‘Guardian Ride V’ a test of endurance for police officer

By Ed Pierce

Brian McCarthy of Windham learned much during his time in the military but one new thing he found was how military families like his own were cared for and looked after when he was serving overseas. When he retired as an Army Sergeant First Class following a 20-year military career, McCarthy kept his pledge to support military families through what he calls the “Guardian Ride,” an annual long distance bicycle trip to raise money for Maine’s 488th’s Family Readiness Group which assists military dependents in resolving problems while military personnel are away from home.

Windham's Brian McCarthy will undertake his fifth
'Guardian Ride' to raise money for Maine military families
starting on Sunday, Sept. 11. McCarthy will cycle from
Windham to New Hampshire and into Massachusetts before
returning to South Portland on Sept. 17, a route consisting
of more than 319 miles. COURTESY PHOTO
McCarthy, a police officer in South Portland, is now preparing for the fifth edition of his cycling fundraiser and the 2022 “Guardian Ride V” will be taking a new route through some different terrain and passing through different states that promise new challenges for him from previous years. It kicks off Sunday and will span seven days while covering hundreds of miles.

“This year, for the first time, I’m venturing south,” McCarthy said. I’ll be on a loop ride from the Windham Veterans Center, departing on Sunday, Sept. 11, across southern New Hampshire, passing through my hometown of Templeton, Massachusetts, and then returning to Bug Light Park in South Portland on Sept. 17. This year’s route should be 319-plus miles.”

While stretching himself to the limit physically and mentally each day cycling on the ride, McCarthy said he remains focused on the basis for the fundraiser.

“When I deployed, I had a great deal of support from my family, not only in the form of emails and phone calls, but also in the knowledge and surety that they were secure in our home, in their schooling, jobs, etc. I was blessed with strong family supports,” he said. “I also knew that our unit’s Family Readiness Group had our back, just in case there was an unforeseen emergency or if something fell through the cracks. Additionally, my co-workers and community also rallied around me and my soldiers, keeping us well supported with care packages and cards, etc. With me taking on this ride every year, and raising not only funding, but also awareness for the FRG, is my own little way of giving back to the unit and its families behind the scenes.”

Supporting McCarthy on this year’s ride are his wife, Kristin, daughter Logan, colleagues from the South Portland Police Department, and his friends from the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham.

“I’ve been blown away by the generosity of my donors, friends, and family. Over the first four years, we’ve raised over $15,000 for Maine military families,” McCarthy said. “In addition to monetary donations, several households have helped with my ongoing year-round can and bottle drive, I’ve had a soldier-owned bike shop provide some parts and repairs on my bike, and I’ve had friends in every corner of the state host me at their homes and camps for meals and showers along my routes.”

McCarthy says that the feedback he’s received from his military friends has been entirely appreciative and supportive of the “Guardian Ride.”

Having served in three separate National Guard units here in Maine in Brewer, Westbrook and Waterville, I have fellow veteran brothers and sisters in every corner of the state,” he said. “They’ve made very generous donations, hosted me for overnights, cookouts, showers, and have even jumped out of their trucks to say hi when they see me passing through their town. I’ve received updates and pictorials from the FRG leader, to show how the group is incorporating our donations into their annual family functions. And our local service organizations, particularly Windham’s own Field-Allen American Legion Post 148, spearheaded by Post Adjutant David Tanguay, has been very supportive with donations, send-offs, and ‘welcome homes’ for me.”

By collecting pledges made for his ride on a Go Fund Me page, McCarthy raised more than $6,000 in 2021 and hopes to better that this year.

“I’ve received overwhelming and heartfelt support from my old unit, the 488th Military Police Company. I’m still in regular contact with current soldiers and leaders through social media, as well as unit alumni like myself. They are extremely appreciative of not just my efforts on the bike, but also of the generosity of my donors and ride supporters.”

Once more, McCarthy will be using his 24-year-old HARO mountain bike and pulling an Allen Sports cargo trailer for this year’s fundraiser.

“In terms of challenges, in years past I’ve covered long, quiet, remote stretches of road in central and northern Maine. This year, heading south, I expect there to be much more vehicle traffic and urban and suburban roadways. So, I’ll definitely be on alert, staying far to the right, and keeping my head on a swivel. And as always, it’s impossible to scout every mile of such a long ride, so I’m sure there will be plenty of surprises along the way: monster hills, construction sites, and detours.”

According to McCarthy, being out on the open road on his bicycle for his “Guardian Rides” have been some of the best days of my life.

“I’ve been on luxury cruises and beach vacations, but to pack everything you need for a week onto your bicycle, chart a course, and then wind your way through the countryside, is the most relaxing, refreshing time I can recall,” he said. “Crisp morning air rushing by, roadside snacks, friendly faces, and chats with strangers. And this year I have the special treat of biking through my childhood hometown in Templeton, Mass. I’m hoping to see some old friends that day.”

All money collected from the “Guardian Ride” is donated to the Family Readiness Group and used for such things as purchasing back-to-school supplies for military dependent children, a summer cookout and gathering for unit families and single soldiers, a catered unit Christmas party with a visit from Santa for unit families, emergency relief funds for families in need, and for keeping unit families in touch with their loved ones who are stationed overseas.

To make a pledge to McCarthy for this year’s “Guardian Ride,” visit <

Friday, June 3, 2022

Service to community legacy of Windham WW II veteran

World War II veteran Bob Miele of South
Windham has died at the age of 99. He was
a graduate of Windham High School and 
served as a volunteer firefighter in the 
community for many years.
By Ed Pierce

Six words can define the life of World War II veteran Bob Miele of Windham and those are freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy and hope. At age 99, Miele passed away on May 25 at the Maine Veterans Home in Scarborough, leaving behind a record of service to his community that few may ever equal.

Born in South Windham on Jan. 25, 1923, Miele and his family, like many other Americans, struggled to overcome the Great Depression. His parents encouraged him to focus on academics while attending Windham High School. Following his graduation, Miele was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II and joined 16 million other Americans, including his brother, Ralph, in wearing the uniform of the United States.

He served in the U.S. Army’s European Theater in England, France and Germany, working as a T5 Signal Corps Early Warning Radar Operator tracking enemy aircraft and German V-1 buzz bombs.

When the war ended, Miele returned to Windham and eventually took over operation of his father’s store, Patsy’s, located directly across from the old fire station in South Windham.

Because of the store’s proximity to the fire station, Miele stepped up to assist the community in yet another way. 

“He was actually a volunteer firefighter back in those days” said David Tanguay, adjutant for American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham. “He lived above Patsy’s and when he heard the fire alarm go off, he got dressed and ran across the street to the fire station. He was always the first one to report for duty there.”

On a blind date in 1962, Miele met Alys Sampson of South Portland and they married on Nov. 10, 1962. 

For many years, Bob and Alys Miele were a fixture in South Windham operating Patsy’s Store seven days a week and raising three children.

He also was an active participant in the Shriners, volunteering his free time as a Shriners Crazy Cop and traveling to drive in countless parades across New England and Canada and frequent Shriner trips to the circus.

As he got older, Miele was the recipient of an Honor Flight Maine trip to Washington, D.C. in 2014, visiting the World War II Memorial alongside his daughter, Tina Pomerleau of Falmouth. 

His wife Alys died in 2016 and in 2021, Bob Miele was surprised at two different events sponsored by Post 148 of which he was a longtime member.

On his 98th birthday in 2021, the American Legion hosted a parade in South Windham honoring Miele’s service to the community which included more than 100 participants. After the parade, Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield thanked Miele for his service to the nation and to the community and he presented him with a “Challenge Coin” and a Windham Police patch.

“This one seemed to be larger than those parades were,” he said. “I’ve never had a parade in my honor before and it feels remarkable,” Miele said.

In March 2021, Miele was a recipient of a Quilt of Valor presented to him by Donna Brookings, the Maine State Coordinator for Quilts of Valor, at the Windham Veterans Center. “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.”

Services for Miele are planned for some time later this month. <

Friday, January 29, 2021

South Windham parade salutes World War II veteran’s 98th birthday

By Ed Pierce

Of the 16 million Americans who wore the uniform of the United States during World War II, Bob Miele of South Windham remains proud of his service, his family and the community he treasures. And as he celebrated his 98th birthday on Jan. 25, Miele was honored with a parade, greetings from Windham’s police chief, a gift from Windham’s American Legion post and cheers from more than three dozen friends and family members.

Drafted in the U.S. Army, Miele joined his brother Ralph in uniform and served from 1941 to 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.

World War II veteran Bob Miele of South Windham, far right,
waves to vehicles participating in a parade marking his 98th 
birthday on Jan. 25. More than 50 vehicles were in the parade
and a crowd of more than three dozen of Miele's family and 
friends attended the event. Miele owned and operated
'Patsy's' store for many years in South Windham and served
as a radar operator in England, France and Germany during
The parade included more than 50 vehicles, police cruisers, veterans, Shriners, and fire trucks filled with well-wishers who turned out wanting to say happy birthday to Miele. The parade stretched all the way from the old Windham Fire Station to the new fire station on Route 202.

His grandson, Tim Pomerleau of Raymond, said it is the first time he can ever remember a parade in which Bob was not a participant.

“My grandfather was a Shriner Crazy Cop for many years and made Shriner trips to the circus, parades and Canada and I used to love going with him to those,” he said.

After his military service ended, Miele returned to Windham and eventually took over operation of his father’s store, Patsy’s, located directly across from the old fire station in South Windham.
“He was actually a volunteer firefighter back in those days too,” said David Tanguay, adjutant for American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham. “He lived above Patsy’s and when he heard the fire alarm go off, he got dressed and ran across the street to the fire station. He was always the first one to report for duty there.”

His daughter, Tina Pomerleau of Falmouth, said she was surprised by the outpouring of love and support for her father as he celebrated his birthday.

“It’s just amazing,” she said. “I don’t know how it happened, but he has received almost 100 birthday cards in the mail coming from all across the country too. He’s very happy today.”

Tanguay said his family kept the parade a secret from him until it was time to go outside to watch it as it drove near his condominium on Depot Street.

“He was only told he had to be in the condo lobby at 10 a.m. for some member of his church who wanted to wish him a happy birthday,” Tanguay said. “When he stepped out of the building, he was met with accolades and well wishes by dozens of family and friends.”

After the parade, Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield thanked Miele for his service to the nation and to the community and he presented him with a “Challenge Coin” and a Windham Police patch.

Schofield said he was humbled to be included in the parade and to meet Miele.

“It’s quite an honor for a living member of the Greatest Generation,” Schofield said. “This means a lot to his family and for me, it’s an honor to be a part of this.”

Tanguay also gave Miele a special “Eagle Cane” and a citation from the American Legion marking his 98th birthday.

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.

Miele, whose wife of 53 years, Alys, died in 2016, said he was overwhelmed by all of the attention for his birthday and said he remembers when annual Fourth of July parades took the same route as this one did years ago.

“This one seemed to be larger than those parades were,” he said. “I’ve never had a parade in my honor before and it feels remarkable.” <

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.” <