FRAMINGHAM – The Town of Framingham awarded seven Medals of Liberty to Gold Star families at its Memorial Day ceremony Monday morning at Nevins Hall inside the Memorial Building.
Medals were presented to:
- Second Lt. James V. Carlino, United States Army, G Company, 149th Infantry Regiment 28th Division. Lt. Carlino was killed by hostile enemy ground fire in the Republic of the Philippines on May 3, 1945. Accepting the award yesterday was his niece Teresa Weisman, a special education staffer at Fuller Middle School in Framingham.
- Private First Class Walter Jennings, Company L, 47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. PFC Jennings was killed by indirect fire on March 9, 1945, while fighting for the control of the Remagen Bridge over the Rhine River. Accepting the medal yesterday was his granddaughter Stephanie Carter, who work in the accounting department with the Town of Framingham.
- Private Joseph E. Blandin, Army Medical Corps. Private Blandin was declared missing in action at sea from a U.S. Army Transport Ship in the Atlantic Ocean. He was later presumed dead on December 5, 1942. Blandin Avenue is named after the Blandin Family. Four brothers served during World War II, and two continued their service through the Korean War. Accepting the award yesterday was his nephew Joseph E. Cracer.
- Second Lt. Allen R. Loan, U.S. Marine Corps, Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. Second Lt. Loane died of wounds as a result of hostile enemy ground fire in the vicinity of Quang Nam in the Republic of Vietnam on September 4, 1967. The medal was given to Lt. Loane’s brother Jeffrey Loane. All Ross, a high school classmate of Lt. Loane, accepted the award yesterday, as Loane could not travel from Kentucky.
- Sgt. Kevin J. Joyce, U.S. Army, A Troop, 2nd Squadron, 7th Calvary Regiment, 1st Calvary Division. Sgt. Joyce died of wounds as a result of hostile enemy indirect fire in Thua Thien Province in South Vietnam. Accepting the medal yesterday was his nephew Steven J. Dicecco.
- Sgt. Joseph A Seaman, U.S. Army, headquarters, 2nd battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. Sgt. Seaman died of wounds as a result of hostile enemy indirect fire in Dinh Tuong in South Vietnam. The medal was awarded to his first cousin David S. Catalin, who could not attend the ceremony. Framingham Veterans Council member Dawn Ross accepted for the Seaman Gold Star Family yesterday. She is a Navy veteran.
- Sgt. David F. Sleeper, United States Air Force, 457th Tactical Airlift Squadron. Sgt. Sleeper was killed in action when hostile enemy ground fire crashed his U.S. Air Force C-7 Caribou wing 10 miles southwest of An Loc in Vietnam. The medal was awarded to his daughter Ruth Ann Marshall, who could not attend the ceremony. Framingham Veterans Council member Dawn Ross accepted for the Seaman Gold Star Family yesterday. She is a Navy veteran.
Yesterday’s speakers both focused their remarks on those still fighting wounds, both physical and mental, from their service.
“While we officially remember the fallen today, we also need to think about the forgotten. The people who did make it home alive; but left a large piece of their soul on the battlefield. The ones we can still help. Those whose courageous service put them through more than the human spirit could endure,” said Selectmen Chair Cheryl Tully Stoll.
“Some of the people even had the bravery while deployed, despite the risk of shame and stigma in that environment, to admit they needed help while in the field. How was this bravery rewarded for many?” said Stoll “They were given Prozac and sent back out into the field to further compound their trauma and jeopardize the safety of the people who served with them. What a disgrace! Is it any wonder, these men and women are now having problems? PTSD, depression, anxiety, other psychological disorders as well as addiction issues. Is our federal government really surprised by the appalling rate of veteran suicides? Washington has lots of folks lobbying for more bombers and missiles; but there is no powerful psychological services lobby?”
Framingham Downtown Renaissance Executive Director Courtney Thraen, who served in the U.S. Navy also spoke of the need to help those who have returned from service.
She spoke of how serving on a ship is like being in the melting pot just like downtown Framingham.
“In a melting pot, everyone plays a special, yet vital role,” said Thraen. “And the combined output delivers a sustained, superior performance. Yet only one missing link can not only disrupt the balance of peace, it can also severely affect everyone else.”
“How can we make meaning of this somber occasion? How can we make it real and tangible?” she asked. “How do we help others to understand and appreciate the gravity of this sacrifice that was made to defend peace for us at home and abroad?”
After serving the Navy, she said she spent four years at the Veterans Administration as disability claims processor. She said she thoroughly investigated the heart-wrenching details that illustrated how our service members were killed in action or wounded.
She said one of the last claims she processed was for a World War II Veteran who served aboard the U.S. Franklin. In 1945, the ship was hit by an enemy dive bomber. But in 2016, he was still suffering from nightmares, post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor’s guilt, and submitted his very first claim to the VA, she said.
“This Veteran only lives a few miles from here. And it was deeply humbling for me to process his claim successfully,” she said.
“For each PTSD claim, I had the equally hard job of assessing all of the unending constant symptoms of PTSD,” she said. “Sadly, many affected Veterans have turned to drugs, and ended up homeless. Or worse they have taken their own lives.”
“So when I hear ultimate sacrifice or fallen heroes, I think of all the families, friends, and service members who suffer the terrible effects of PTSD every single day,” said Thraen.
Click below to view more of her speech.
Photos by Susan Petroni/Petroni Media Company ©2017. All Rights Reserved. High-resolution photos are available to purchase by emailing Petronimedia@gmail.com