LEWISTON — A large crowd attended Memorial Day ceremonies Saturday morning at Veterans Memorial Park, where dedication of the 29th commemorative granite stone in the park took place.
This addition honored those who served in the Civil Air Patrol.
Included among the 216 names engraved on the stone were Lt. Col. Warren King and Lt. Col. Mary Story-King, Auburn natives and residents of a home in New Auburn since 2008.
King was seated with dignitaries at the podium, and next to him was an empty chair honoring Story-King, who died May 21. They have been key members of the Maine Wing of Civil Air Patrol at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport.
A keynote address by retired four-star Gen. William Begert, a Lewiston native, highlighted the remarkable military legacy of his family, several of whom are memorialized on newest of the park’s stones.
Begert, who was introduced as “Wild-Bill” Begert by master of ceremonies Jerry DeWitt, chairman of the Lewiston-Auburn Veterans Council, said the names of his three uncles and his father who are listed on the Civil Air Patrol stone, and talked about other members of his family who had served.
“My grandmother was a widow as a young woman in 1938 and she had six children,” he said. “All four of her sons went off to World War II … my Uncle Carl flew for the Army Air Corps, my father was in the Army, and after D-Day, he crossed Europe for the invasion of Germany. He came home after V-E Day, joined my mother and my brother, who was just 2, had some leave and was getting ready to ship off to the invasion of Japan when we dropped the bombs that ended the war.
“Already in the Pacific was my Uncle John, who was in the Navy,” Begert said.
Begert said also serving in the Navy during World War II was his uncle, Jerome, who later had a long and distinguished career in the CIA as an analyst and a covert operator.
Also listed on the stone is Begert’s brother, Jim, who graduated from Boston University, served in the Peace Corps in Africa for two years and was drafted into the U.S. Army. Later, following military service, James Begert returned to Lewiston and became a city councilman.
A nephew who is listed on the stone served in the U.S. Air Force in the early 1990s as an aircraft ejection seat repairman, Begert said. An aunt was a spotter on search missions for German submarines, and another aunt was a nurse.
Begert also tells about another relative of long ago, his great-great-grandfather Patrick Charles. He was a Civil War veteran who served from 1863 to 1865, and the general said his ancestor “came home with a musketball hole in his cheek.”
In recalling those family members who served in World War II, Begert said, “I mention my family with some humility because they all came home. There were no Purple Heart recipients, no Gold Star families among the Begerts.”
He noted that such military service at that time was “ordinary and expected.”
Begert recognized that the CAP stone dedicated Saturday also bears the name of Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Field of Lisbon, who was aboard the Blackhawk helicopter shot down over Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993. He was killed defending his injured crewmates of the downed helicopter.
Begert, who concluded a 36-year military career in 2004, is a longtime summer resident of New Gloucester at Sabbathday Lake.
He flew more than 300 combat missions over Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In the years after the Vietnam War, Begert served as an instructor at the Air Force Academy and was a commander of various squadrons and wings. He was later vice commander of the Air Force in Europe in the late 1990s. He left a position at the Pentagon to become commander of the Pacific Air Forces from 2001 until his retirement.
Auburn Mayor Jonathan P. LaBonte told the crowd at Veterans Memorial Park that the Twin Cities are richer for the contributions of people who serve the community. They include two recently deceased citizens, retired Auburn police officer Paul “Bud” Caouette, and Lt. Col. Mary Story-King, he said.
Lewiston Mayor Robert MacDonald, a Vietnam veteran, reminded listeners of the importance of honoring our war-dead.
A flyover of a Civil Air Patrol plane piloted by Col. Daniel Leclair, commander of Northeast Region Civil Air Patrol, took place during the Veterans Memorial Park ceremonies.
Dignitaries at the event placed wreathes at the Park’s central monument.
This year’s Memorial Day Parade spanned from Lewiston’s Kennedy Park to Auburn’s Great Falls Plaza. The weather was cool and windy, but the sidewalk near Veterans Memorial Park was filled with families with cildren of all ages.
The parade units included numerous veterans organizations: the Highlanders bagpipe band of Kora Shrine Temple; a Civil Air Patrol honor guard; the ROAR of the Androscoggin, consisting of the combined marching bands of Lewiston High School, Edward Little High School of Auburn and Leavitt Area High School of Turner; Boy Scout Troop 121 of Auburn; Cub Scout Pack 116 of Lewiston; Girl Scout Troop 2470 of Lewiston; the American Legion Auxiliary; and Lewiston High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC.
A vehicle honoring Sgt. Brian L. Buker, medal of honor recipient, Chapter 4570 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, also took part in the parade. Several specialized vehicles included the Red Cross disaster relief vehicle, as well as firetrucks of the Lewiston and Auburn fire departments.
Emily Fessenden, 5, and her brother, Nathan, 1, of Lewiston watch the Memorial Day parade motor down Lisbon Street on Saturday.
Jerry DeWitt of the L-A Veterans’ Council waves from a 1956 military Jeep that was being driven by World War II veteran Dolard Gendron during the Memorial Day parade in Lewiston on Saturday.
Cecile Burgoyne of Auburn plays Taps at Veterans Memorial Park during the Memorial Day ceremony in Lewiston on Saturday. Burgoyne will turn 90 on Sept. 15 and is a member of the Franco American War Veterans.
Retired four-star Gen. William Begert was the featured speaker during the memorial Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park in Lewiston on Saturday.
Micaela Kelly of Lewiston and her 3-year-old son, Parker, wave as a Civil Air Patrol airplane flies over Veterans Memorial Park during the Memorial Day ceremony in Lewiston on Saturday. Parker Kelly dressed up in honor of his grandfather and great-grandfather, both veterans.
World War II veteran Dolard Gendron, 91, of Lewiston points to his name and the name of his four brothers that appear on the 29th memorial stone that was unveiled during the Memorial Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park in Lewiston on Saturday. Gendron served in the South Pacific in the U.S. Navy during World War II. His brothers, Arthur, Bert, Wallace and Claude served during the Korean War.
Civil Air Patrol cadets march across the Longley Memorial Bridge during the Memorial Day parade in Lewiston on Saturday. Cadets, from left, are Melissa Pawlina, Caleb Howard, Amos Grant, Jacob Hart, Eli Christman, Lucas Pawlina and Rileigh Landry.
Daughters of the American Revolution member Beverly Robbins waves from the front seat during the Memorial Day parade in Lewiston on Saturday.
Friends and family of Vietnam veteran Gerard Boisvert gather around after surprising him by having his name engraved on the 29th memorial stone that was unveiled during the Memorial Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park in Lewiston on Saturday. Boisvert of Lewiston thought one needed to be deceased to have their name on one of the stones. Boisvert’s wife, Donna, and cousin Mandy Auger did some research and discovered that was not the case. Boisvert served on the Navy rescue ship “Halsey” during the Vietnam war. His name was engraved on the stone, as well as two of his uncles. Family held a big party following the ceremony at Auger’s home in Auburn.
Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts parade down Main Street during the Memorial Day celebration in Lewiston on Saturday.
The 29th memorial stone with 216 names of local servicemen was unveiled at Veterans Memorial Park in Lewiston on Saturday. The stone sits covered before the unveiling.