By: Lonnie Brennan – March, 2010
Over the past years I’ve had the privilege to contribute a few words and reflect on a few thoughts regarding our fine communities; some positive observations, some less than desirable. Nothing has been more of an honor than meeting and listening to the many Valley Patriot Heroes in our midst.
The firm handshake with then 92-year-old former WWII B-17 turret gunner George Haynes of Lawrence, and listening to first-hand accounts of his bombing runs, and sifting through old mission documents was a particular highlight.
Meeting his friend, a spirited 84-years-young WWII B-17 navigator James H. Derby, and providing a brief summary of the many actions this brave gentleman experienced for this newspapers’ readers was truly an honor.
we, as a community, owe great thanks to their friend, Ed J. Hickey. This gentleman (our Oct. ’09 Valley Patriot of the Month),introduced me to his fellow Mt. Vernon neighbors, and shared his world-wide whirlwind tours, of 1951 when, as a youth, he joined the Navy to continue a final family tradition, at a time of unrest.
Reaching further back into our archives, the late Arthur Rauseo, Georgetown’s former Fire Chief, electric light commissioner, and local proprietor shared his naval experiences, serving aboard the U.S.S. Lowndes, and providing support supplies at Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, amongst other actions.
Other former servicemen and women included the now late Irish Bresnahan, who passed after giving testimony in Washington, D.C., following years of long illnesses attributed to state-side Agent Orange exposure.
In an uplifting mood, Georgetown’s long-term former selectman Paul Thompson shared his adventures as a youth, serving our country in the Coast Guard.
These were just a few of the seemingly countless Valley Patriot heroes in our midst. And today, just days after the passing of my grandmother, Blanche Guy Wheelock, I reflect on her stories and those of other spouses, who have sacrificed so much for our nation. They truly were another breed, a breed so desperately needed today, not to fight wars with weapons, but to fight wars of ideals and individual freedom.
So, for this anniversary issue, my grandmother’s 11 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren, many in the Merrimack Valley, join in thanking our neighbors. Nana, as you join your husband, the former Navy veteran Frank Wheelock, you will be missed by your daughters Ruth Brennan (Salem) and June Beaupre (Haverhill), your siblings, and your grandchildren Elizabeth “Lisa” Haggerty, Frank Brennan, Scott Brennan, Lonnie Brennan, Maryjane Roberts, Lori Swenson, Michael Beaupre, Julie Pollock, Heidi Begin, Holly Brennan-Sheehan, and Kelly Termini.
Congratulations to the Valley Patriot on this great 6-year anniversary, and next month, we’ll address budgets, overrides, and over-taxation. Stay-tuned.