THE NEW sign for Veterans Field was unveiled on Friday with help from Bob Sardella from Sardella Sign & Display. The sign was donated by Wakefield resident Lois Benjamin and created by Sardella.
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — Wakefield residents turned out at two events on Friday morning as the town observed Veterans Day.
At 9 a.m., dozens attended the re-dedication of Veterans Field and the unveiling of the new sign donated by Lois Benjamin. The traditional Veterans Day ceremonies were held at 11 a.m. in Veterans Memorial Auditorium at the Galvin Middle School.
The featured speaker at the 11 a.m. ceremonies was Thomas J. Hudner III, son of naval aviator Thomas J. Hudner Jr., who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman for his heroic actions in the Korean War.
Wakefield Veterans Advisory Board Chairman Paul Cancelliere introduced a video message from Wakefield native Shelby Nikitin, commander of the USS Thomas Hudner. Nitikin and her crew told the heroic story of Lt. Thomas J. Hudner Jr. and his attempt to rescue of his friend and wingman Ensign Jesse Brown, America’s first black naval aviator, after Brown’s plane was shot down and crashed into a mountain during the Battle of Chosin, North Korea in December of 1950.
After executing a wheels-up landing of his own plane on the snow-covered mountain, Lt. Hudner, despite his own injuries, trudged through deep snow to reach Brown, who was still alive and pinned in the cockpit of his plane.
Unable to free Brown on his own, Hudner radioed for a rescue helicopter, but sadly, Brown succumbed to his injuries.
Speaking of his father at Friday’s Veterans Day ceremony, Thomas J. Hudner III said that his dad was a humble and honorable man, who downplayed his historic actions in Korea.
“We all have the capacity to be honorable and we all have the capacity to be selfless,” Hudner said. “I hope that today and every day we can be inspired by the veterans here with us today and all the men and women who have served and are serving.”
State Senator Jason Lewis presented Hudner with a citation from the Massachusetts State Legislature.
Town Council Chair Mehreen Butt gifted Hudner with an American Flag that has been flown over Wakefield Town Hall. Another flag will be sent to the USS Thomas Hudner.
Butt also acknowledged the service of all veterans.
“Today we recognize all those among us who been part of the great brotherhood and sisterhood that we call the United States military,” Butt said. “Our veterans, active-duty service members, Guardsmen and Reservists have kept our country safe and free.”
During Friday’s ceremonies, Wakefield Veterans Service Officer David Mangan presented the Republic of Korea Ambassador of Peace Medal to Paul Fazzina, who served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division during the Korean War.
The National Anthem was performed by the Wakefield Memorial High School Treble Choir and the Chamber Singers under the direction of Ana Morel.
The WMHS Wind Ensemble under the direction of Thomas Bankert performed, “The Armed Forces – The Pride of America.”
John Bohling of American Legion Post 63 recited from memory the World War I poem. “In Flanders Fields.”
Michael Owen of the Veterans Advisory Board read a Veterans Day proclamation from Gov. Charlie Baker.
The colors were posted at Friday’s ceremonies by the Boy Scouts of Troop 701.
Sam Stella from American Legion Post 63 led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Girl Scouts of Troop 62842 placed the Veterans Day Wreath at the front of the auditorium.
“Taps” was performed by WMHS students Lila Hatheway and Caroline Dill.
Rabbi Greg Hersh of Temple Emmanuel offered the invocation and the benediction at the Galvin ceremonies.
Earlier Friday morning, a smaller crowd gathered for the re-dedication of Veterans Field and the unveiling of the new “Veterans Memorial Field” sign donated by Wakefield native Lois (Jarema) Benjamin and created by Bob Sardella of Sardella Sign & Display.
Rabbi Hersh also offered the invocation at the re-dedication of Veterans Field.
“This piece of land represents the beauty of our country and what our military fights to protect,” Rabbi Hersh said. “It’s a special place and God’s presence can be felt here.”
Town Councilor Robert Vincent spoke of Lois Benjamin and her generous donation.
“Sometimes we come across exceptional individuals who are determined to permanently memorialize their gratitude to veterans,” Vincent said. Vincent called Lois Benjamin “one of Wakefield’s finest citizens,” and thanked her for her gift of the Veterans Field sign to her hometown.
Veteran’s Service Officer David Mangan presented Benjamin with a bouquet of flowers in appreciation of her generosity.