Restrictions on public gatherings imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are in the process of being lifted, but not quite quickly enough for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday.
According to Ally Rodriguez, Foxboro’s veteran’s service officer, traditional Memorial Day observances on the town Common have been canceled for the second consecutive year.
But Rodriguez confirmed that veterans from American Legion Post #93 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #2626 have teamed up with Foxboro Cable Access to ensure those who served in uniform will not be forgotten.
Beginning at 11 a.m. next Monday, Honor Guard units from the Legion and VFW posts will pay visits to Rockhill and St. Mary’s cemeteries, as well as the East Foxboro memorial square, located near the railroad overpass.
According to Paul Dumas, who has long been affiliated with Post #93 in a variety of leadership capacities, the units will first proceed to Rockhill Cemetery, where a rifle salute will honor the grave of David Gaffey, a 1974 Foxboro High School graduate and U.S. Army veteran who died last December at age 64.
The rifle salute will be repeated at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Dumas said, this time at the gravesite of Harold Donnelly, a 1959 Boston College graduate, Marine Corps veteran and longtime member of the Foxboro Housing Authority who died in May 2011 at age 81.
Both Gaffey and Donnelly had served as past commanders of Post #93.
Veterans will then proceed to the East Foxboro square for a final salute at the veterans’ memorial located there, before retiring to the nearby VFW Hall.
In addition to the cemetery visits, Foxboro Cable Access will broadcasting a recurring scroll of photos and biographical information on local veterans who have died in the past year, also beginning at 11 a.m. next Monday.
The feature is intended as a virtual recreation of the so-called “Roll Call of the Dead,” a long tradition during the town’s Memorial Day observances, which identifies by name each local veteran who died since the previous Memorial Day, followed by the ceremonial playing of “Taps.”
Those included on the 2021 “Roll Call” include Arthur Newcomb, U.S. Coast Guard; Timothy McNamara, U.S. Army, Vietnam; Vito Puopolo, U.S. Navy, WWII; Richard Neilson, U.S. Air Force, Cold War; Frederick Smith, U.S. Navy; Jerry Haines, U.S. Navy, Korea; Richard McGrane, U.S. Army, Korea and Robert Medeiros, U.S. Army, Vietnam
Also: Roland Bjorkman, U.S. Air Force, Korea; Vincent Riccio, U.S. Air Force, Cold War; David Gaffey, U.S. Army; John McLaughlin, U.S. Navy, Vietnam; Charles R. “Dick” Putnam, U.S. Army, Vietnam; Christopher Delano, U.S. Army; Frederick Kleindienst, U.S. Air Force, Cold War; Van Cama, U.S. Army and Thomas Ross, U.S. Marine Corps, Vietnam.
Also: Joseph Metrano, U.S. Air Force, Cold War; Catherine “Kitty” Carbone, U.S. Nurse Corps, WWII; Eugene Poirier Jr., U.S. Navy, Vietnam; Charles Clifford, U.S. Army, Korea; Frederick Stanton, U.S. Army; Nicholas Battersby, U.S. Army, Iraq; Paul Darcy, U.S. Air Force and Robert Miller, U.S. Army.
In addition to the scaled-back observances on Monday, Dumas said, Legion and VFW members assisted by participants from local scout troops will be replacing American flags at the graves of local veterans this Friday.