Friday, December 12, 2008

Maine’s Pearl Harbor Survivor Honored in Lebanon

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
North Berwick native and who is believed to be Maine’s last Pearl Harbor survivor Bernie Hall was honored this past Sunday with an award from American Legion Post 214 in Lebanon.
Sixty-seven years ago, while being stationed in Honolulu, HI, Hall was out getting a morning cup of coffee when he heard two explosions that would forever change his life, and the course of world history.
“I heard BOOM, BOOM! “ explained the 93-year-old World War II veteran, “while I was at the Scolfield Barracks.”
Hall is describing the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, the “date that will live in infamy” when Japan attacked the US naval forces stationed at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu.
“It was a terrible, terrible incident,” said Hall. He remembered, “I lost my helmet getting into the back of the truck, and I was ordered to go quick and get one that fits!”
A pancake breakfast was held at the Lebanon Elementary School and about 139 people, including many veterans, were in attendance. As the winter’s first snowfall descended lazily outside, Hall was in good spirits, joking, laughing and shaking hands with the many well-wishers on the inside.
Once the official program began, several speakers took the podium to honor Mr. Hall, now a Lebanon resident. Speakers included Commander of Post 214 Steven White, 4th District Commander Charles Bennett, State Senator Richard Nass, State Representative Joan Nass, and representatives from Governor Baldacci, Senator Snowe and Senator Collins. Mr. Hall also received a letter of appreciation from the President of the United States of America.
Hall’s date with history may never have happened if he had not seen the Uncle Sam army recruitment poster on a particularly cold day in North Berwick 68 years ago.
“He saw that sign and said: That’s what I’m going to do,” said his daughter, June Boivin. “His cousin then drove him to Portland, they put him up in a nice hotel, and asked him: where do you want to go? He said: Hawaii!”
The events at Pearl Harbor led the United States to enter into World War II hostilities.

Caption: Commander of Post 214 Steven White presents Pearl Harbor survivor Bernie Hall with an award of honor from the American Legion Post 214 in Lebanon. (Weekly Sentinel photo)

Maine Veteran Organizations “Remember, Honor and Teach” with Wreaths

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist

Two southern Maine American veterans organizations are taking part in the Wreaths Across America program with ceremonies Saturday.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6548 in Kennebunk and the Owen Davis American Legion Post 96 of Saco are among those nationwide to participate.
Kenneth Kingsley of Kennebunk and David Walker of Saco said wreaths honoring the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Merchant Marine Navy, and MIAs/POWs will be placed at veterans’ memorials in their respective towns.
This is the second year the VFW Post 6548 has been part of the observance. Kingsley. a Navy Seabee who served in Vietnam and the current commander of the Saco VFW, said he learned of it reading the VFW magazine and “thought it would be a good idea” to be part of it.
The simple ceremony will be held at noon at the Veterans Memorial at Washington Park, he said, at the same time similar ceremonies are being conducted throughout the country.
Walker, an Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War, said the noon ceremony in Saco will be at the Veterans Memorial at the Laurel Hill Cemetery.
This is the third year the Owen Davis Post has been involved. People interested in taking part this year should arrive at 11:30 a.m., he said. All are welcome to take part.
The Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, originated the program and this year Wreaths Across America will send more than 100,000 wreaths to more than 350 sites across the nation and over 20 more sites overseas including Iraq, according to an Associated Press report.
A convoy of trucks carrying wreaths made in Maine left Harrington last weekend en route to Arlington National Cemetery. The convoy is scheduled to arrive Saturday.
The convoy makes a series of stop along the way. Those stops included Old Orchard Beach, Portland, and Wells High School earlier this week where a small ceremony was held to honor veterans.
Morrill Worcester of Worcester Wreath began the program placing wreaths on veterans’ graves in 1992 at Arlington, and it has grown steadily over the years. This year his company will donate 18,000 wreaths to what has become a national effort during the holiday season.
“On behalf of everyone at Worcester Wreath, my wife Karen, our family, and all the people who have made the Arlington Wreath Project their work for so many years, we wish to express our appreciation for the many phone calls, email, and letters of thanks,” Worcester writes on the program website.
“It provides the inspiration for all of us to renew our commitment to honor the men and women of the armed forces who have served, and those who are currently serving our country,” he continues. “To each, and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we owe unwavering support and a profound debt of gratitude for preserving the way of life we all enjoy here in the United States of America.”
Caption: Wreaths have been placed at veteran’s markers all across America. (James Varhegyi photo)