RUMFORD — There are many heroes in our midst. Twenty-plus Oxford County heroes, World War II veterans, were honored for their service at a luncheon honors ceremony at the Eagles Club in Rumford.
The event, organized by the Western Maine Veterans Advisory Committee, feted the local “Greatest Generation” honorees with a live local country-bluegrass band, The Black Mountain Boys of Rumford, tribute speeches by U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, and co-event organizer John Kezal and a lunch.
The luncheon was attended by more than 100 friends and family members as well as leaders from veterans support groups, local government and law enforcement agencies such as the Oxford County Sheriffs Department.
“It feels good to honor these veterans,” John Kezal said, “and to see so many different people attend this event.”
The World War II veterans in attendance, whose average age was 87, served in every military branch during the “Great War” in virtually every World War II war theater. Each seemed to have a special story to tell. Chummy Broomhall, 91, of Rumford, one of 15 children, related some of his war experiences as a member of the 10th Army Division.
“I fought throughout Europe and North Africa in the unit that had the most casualties of any military unit in the war. Fortunately, I never was wounded but my brother, who fought in another company of the 10th Mountain, was wounded, survived and is now living in Arizona.”
Broomhall returned after the war to his native Rumford and would later represent the United States on the U.S. Nordic Ski Team in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics. “I hope to be back here next year,” Broomhall said in parting.
Rep. Michaud, commending the veterans in the event’s marquee, said “Maine has one of the largest percentages of veterans in its population — roughly 16 percent. When I talk to veterans, like you I get to appreciate what our soldiers and families have gone through. God bless our servicemen and their families.”