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Five World War II vets honored for their service

CARIBOU, Maine — Five members of The Greatest Generation were honored recently at the Maine Veterans Home in Caribou for their service during World War II.

Craig Fay, Chaplain of the Meo Bosse Detachment 1414 Marine Corps League and also a Vietnam veteran, initially planned the event with Commandant Vaughn Hardacker.

Hardacker said a member of the detachment lives in St. Francis and is a World War II veteran, which inspired the group to celebrate his service. They soon decided to get in touch with the Maine Veterans Home, a nonprofit organization separate from the Department of Veterans Affairs, in Caribou, to honor all the World War II veterans residing in the facility.

Officials at the facility were receptive to the idea and agreed to host the event.

Fay said it is important to recognize the service of the five honored — the only World War II veterans residing at the Caribou veterans home.

“This is history,” he said. “They went through the Great Depression, and then they went on to fight in World War II. They did it all, and that’s why they’re coined The Greatest Generation.”

Fay said it’s important to keep their heroism alive and to remember the millions of servicemen  and women who gave their lives and are now resting not only in Arlington, but overseas as well.

Hardacker added that Robert Lovely, one of the veterans being recognized, actually drove landing craft during the battle of Iwo Jima.

Lovely, a U.S. Navy veteran, said he not only fought in Iwo Jima, but also in Okinawa and the Philippines. However, he was at a loss for words during the ceremony itself.

“I can’t think of anything to say right now,” he said. “I’m so excited.”

In addition to Lovely, other veterans recognized on May 18 were U.S. Army veterans Roland Anderson and Oran Rasmussen, Navy veteran Joseph Bouchard and U.S. Air Force veteran Elmer Potter.

“All these gentlemen are saints,” Fay said during the ceremony before Hardacker presented each veteran with an encased flag and framed certificate. “They’ve seen a lot of life and this is a historic moment for this hospital.”

He reiterated that the men being honored had truly earned the title of being among The Greatest Generation in America.

“These are the gentlemen whose shoulders we stand upon today,” Fay said. “Without them, we would not have freedom, liberty and a democracy. We have everything in this world and we just take it for granted sometimes. These are the gentlemen who made a difference; they were The Greatest Generation.”

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