|The Rhode Island
Cross, the state's highest award for bravery, was awarded
recently to five survivors of the Bataan death march. The
honorees are James Brennan and Henry Wallace of Pawtucket and
Antonio Dattorro of Providence. Also, John LeClair and John
Portress were granted the award posthumously. |
A. Centracchio, commanding general of the Rhode Island
National Guard, presented the awards earlier this month at
Guard headquarters in Cranston along with Governor Almond. "It
is important to remember the sacrifices of all men and women
in uniform as we approach Memorial Day," Almond said,
indicating the event formally acknowledged the sacrifice made
by service members during the Bataan death march of World War
On April 10, 1942, 76,000 soldiers captured by the
Japanese in the Philippines began a 65-mile march to their POW
camp. Approximately 24,000 marchers succumbed to injury or
were executed by the Japanese along the way.
housing for homeless
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and U.S. Rep.
Robert A. Weygand attended a groundbreaking ceremony earlier
this month for Rhode Island Operation Stand Down's first
veterans living facility at 1010 Hartford Ave., Johnston.
Within a year, this veterans group will turn four
derelict buildings into apartments for homeless veterans,
according to the Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance
Corporation (RIHMFC). When renovations are complete, the
duplex-style, one-story structures will include seven
one-bedroom apartments and a community room.
objective of the project in Johnston is to provide a setting
that will enable Operation Stand Down to link local veterans
with VA benefits and other assistance so they can obtain
education, job training, counseling and health care aimed at
helping them get back on their feet.
financing package for the project is being provided by RIHMFC
and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD
will also provide an additional $234,000 to cover the cost of
supportive services for the veterans.
pay no more than 20 percent of their incomes toward the cost
of rent, meals, laundry and related housing expenses.
Residents must be homeless, disabled veterans of the U.S.
For more information, call Tony
DeQuattro (222-2411, ext. 4547) or Chris Barnett (457-1219).
Benefits for merchant mariners
retirees were advised in this month's "NMU Retiree" newsletter
that the Veterans Administration Benefits Enhancement Act of
1998 now provides veterans recognition and burial benefits to
U.S. merchant mariners who served between Aug. 16, 1945, and
Dec. 31, 1946. Congress has taken final action to pass the
bill, and President Clinton has already signed it into law.
This allows American merchant mariners who continued
facing risks immediately after World War II, while
transporting returning servicemen through hazardous waters
with active mines and other lingering, hostile obstacles, to
qualify for veterans status as those who served during the war
Merchant marine seamen were the first to see
action in World War II, with three ships sunk before the Pearl
Harbor attack, and the last men out with 11 ships sunk by
mines as late as 1956, according to Chris Walsh, a Cranston
merchant marine veteran who provided the information for this
Merchant marine POWs also were among the many
soldiers who died while constructing the bridge at River Kwai
near Kanchanaburi, Thailand, and the infamous "death railway,"
which crossed the bridge.
Approximately 2,500 merchant
mariners will be eligible for this benefit enhancement.
DD-2168 forms must be submitted along with discharge or other
sea service documentation forms. Forms are available from the
NMU Personal Service Unit, which can be reached at (888)
424-4949. Those applying on behalf of deceased mariners must
also provide a certified copy of their death certificate.
Completed forms, along with a $30 processing fee in
the form of a check or money order payable to the U.S.
Treasury, should be sent to World War II Merchant Mariner
Qualifications, Highland Community Bank, P.O. Box 804118,
Chicago, Ill. 60601-4118.
Father's name on Vietnam
The name of Air Force T-Sgt. Richard B.
Fitzgibbon Jr., the first known casualty of the Vietnam War,
was inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in
Washington, D.C., earlier this month.
North Weymouth, Mass., is listed by the U.S. Department of
Defense as having a casualty date of June 8, 1956. The
earliest casualties previously inscribed dated from 1959.
His name now joins that of his son, Marine Corps Lance
Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, with a casualty date of Sept.
7, 1965. According to the Department of Defense, they are the
only father and son servicemen to have lost their lives in
For further information about the Vietnam War
Memorial or the Memorial Fund, call John Meek at (202)
Thought for Memorial Day
of special services to honor those who die in war is not a
recent one. More than 24 centuries ago, the Athenian leader
Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the
Peloponnesian War that could be applied today to the 1.1
million Americans who have died in the nation's wars.
He said, "Not only are they commemorated by columns
and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial
of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men." May
they rest in peace.
* Marine Corps League
Monthly meeting: The Kent County Detachment will meet
Wednesday at VFW Post 449, Providence St., West Warwick,
starting at 8 p.m. New officers will be installed. All active,
retired or discharged Marines are welcome at monthly meetings.
* Reserve Officers Association
meeting: The ROA will gather at the Harwood Reserve Center,
385 Niagara St., Providence, on Thursday at 7 p.m. National
convention plans will be discussed. Call Bruce Gaskill at
467-5410 for more information.
* The United Veterans
Council of Rhode Island
Monthly meeting set: The
council will convene on Thursday at 7 p.m. in conference room
125 at the VA Medical Center, 830 Chalkstone Ave., Providence.
The election and installation of officers for 1999-2000 will
* Vietnam Veterans of America
Chapter 325 monthly meeting: The group will meet on
Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at American Legion Post 39, 1028
Kingstown Rd., Peace Dale. For more information, call
president Bob Barber at 294-6215.
* Veterans of
Auxiliary department meeting: State
president Donna Thurber will preside at Thursday's session at
Capt. Kenneth L. Gilbert Post 4487, starting at 7:30 p.m.
Annual golf tournament: The tournament will begin at 8
a.m. on Friday at the North Kingstown golf course. To
register, call Salvatore Capirchio at 946-8755.
picnic: This annual event, sponsored by the 15-week club, will
be held on Sunday at the Leclair-Kozlik-Logan-Bassett Post, 98
School St., North Smithfield, starting at 11 a.m. Lunch and
dinner will be served. For tickets or more information, call
Leo R. Swider at 751-8200.
* American Legion
R.I. department convention: The 81st annual convention
will be held from Friday to Sunday at the Sheraton Tara
airport hotel, 1850 Post Rd., Warwick.
* Korean War
Veterans of Rhode Island
D-Day barbecue: A steak and
chicken barbecue with live country music and prizes will be
held on Sunday at American Legion Post 12, 730 South County
Trail (Route 2) North Kingstown, from 2 to 6 p.m. Tickets cost
$12 for steak and $10 for chicken and are available at Post 12
or by calling 294-6517.
George W. Reilly can be
reached at email@example.com or by writing to The Providence
Journal, 75 Fountain St., Providence, R.I. 02902.
© 2003 The Providence Journal Company
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