$1,600 from BASH Proceeds Donated to Veterans for Wheelchairs and Groceries
Each year The Valley Patriot holds a charity BASH on the anniversary of the newspaper’s birth.
“I’m so privileged and honored to be here. I’m so privileged and honored to support this BASH. And I will continue to support this BASH every year,” Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Francisco Urena told the crowded room at the Relief’s In last month.
“The reason I support this BASH every year is because, any newspaper that is willing to put their valuable … what could be ad space … and to dedicate that to a local veteran, print after print, month after month on the front page. And to take that concept and develop it into a book to talk about those stories of our local heroes is something we just don’t see enough of. So for that and that alone, Tommy, I will continue to support you and you are a great example of what every publication should be doing. Highlighting our heroes in our midst in our communities.
On behalf of our 365,000 veterans who live amongst us in this great commonwealth I want to thank the VSO’s, and service officers, who help out veterans every day. I also want to thank all of our veterans who served.”
Urena then highlighted why Gerard MaGuire and Randy Carter were chosen as The Valley Patriot’s Hero Veteran Award winners for 2017.
“On any given day, you will find Randy Carter of the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNOC) in Haverhill, out buying groceries for local homeless veterans, counseling a newly discharged vet about health care, or meeting with local politicians to try and get more resources dedicated to helping local veterans in need.
Carter is the Projects / Programs Manager at VNOC and he is also a combat veteran. Carter joined the Army in 1983 and served until 1992. He joined the Air Force in 1992 and retired in 2007.
He was deployed to the Middle East three times in support of Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. Along the way, he was given numerous awards and medals for his service. Carter was honorably discharged as a Tech. Sergeant from the USAF and a Sergeant in the U.S. Army.
GERRY MAGUIRE: Gerard “Gerry” Maguire, entered the service in 1972 and arrived at Fort Dix NJ where he did his Basic training as well as his AIT. Gerry was assigned to the transportation Corps. His first duty station was Fort Bliss Texas, where his most memorable accomplishment was to win first place in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiments annual truck rodeo. This would serve as a catapult for his career. He was almost immediately transferred to Fort Carson, Colorado to serve as the driver for the Commander of Fort Carson home to the 4th Infantry Division. Later he would serve nearly three years in the Berlin Brigade as a driver to visiting VIPs. His next duty station Ft. Sill Oklahoma would be his last duty station. Gerry was involved in a serious accident that ended his career. Gerry attained the rank of SSG, E-6.
During his tenure he was TDY (Temporary Duty) at several different bases to include Fort Devens, Fort Eustis, Fort Lee, Frankfurt and Munich, Germany. He graduated several NCO level schools to include the NCO Academy at Bad Toelz, Germany. Gerry earned an Honorable Discharge and returned to civilian life in 1982.
Gerry has continued to serve his brothers and sisters in arms in a number of capacities. Today Gerry is the Veteran Service Officer for the North Andover and Boxford District. And as highlighted in a recent Valley Patriot story he retrofits wheelchairs in his spare time and donates them to disabled veterans who don’t have one.”
As Urena left the stage to present Carter and MaGuire their awards, Valley Patriot publisher Tom Duggan surprised the room with what he called, “something special”.
“With all the local hero veterans we have, there’s a reason I picked these two guys for a Hero Veteran Award. “ Someone called my office one day and said, ‘I don’t know if you know this guy Randy Carter, but there was a homeless veteran living in his car with his family. Randy found out and tracked them down, and brought them to VNOC and put them in a housing unit. The following morning he went to Market Basket and spent $300 out of his pocket for this homeless veteran who was living in his car with his kid and his wife.”
“So, that’s why he got the award. But when we were counting the money tonight I thought, there’s no reason why a veteran should be taking money out of their own pocket to help a veteran that’s homeless. So we are going to start you off with a grocery fund of $1,000 so the next time a veteran comes to you don’t take money out of your pocket my friend,” Duggan said handing him a check.”
“Hold on, I have one more, Duggan said. “Gerry MaGuire called me one day and said he knew a local veteran who had lost an arm and a leg in WWII in Italy, his name was Sergeant Lussier. This veteran needed a special wheelchair. So, Gerry went out and got a wheel chair donated and spent his own money retro-fitting it to the size of Sg. Lussier, he went out and got a motor, I hear he’s pretty good with his hands, and he built a motor for it. He was calling me because he wanted me to meet this veteran and maybe do a story on Sgt. Lussier for the paper. Gerry MaGuire wanted me to highlight, not what he was doing, donating a wheel chair, but the veteran he was giving the wheelchair to.”
“We interviewed Sgt. Lussier, put him on the front page; he is in the book “Heroes in Our Midst” please read his story.
So I was thinking, why does a veteran have to spend his own time and money retro-fitting wheelchairs for men who went off and served and lost an arm and a leg for our country. It’s a disgrace that he has to do it, but it is so awesome that he does it. So, here is a check from the money we raised tonight in the amount of $600 for your next few wheelchairs.”