Bedford veterans honored at Old Town Hall by Bedford Historical Society

Bedford veterans were saluted by the community at the third annual Salute for Serving, an event sponsored by the Bedford Historical Society on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

The commemoration held at Old Town Hall was witnessed by an audience of more than a hundred from Bedford and elsewhere.

A color guard and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance preceded the recognition of each veteran from the podium. Some stood as their names were announced. The disabled raised a hand. A color guard, the presentation of the flag and music from the Bedford High School Band rounded out the celebration.

Martha Pouliot, of the Bedford Friendship Quilt Guild, displayed two handmade quilts known as “Quilts of Valor,” that the group made special for the occasion. The awarding of the red-white-and-blue masterpieces to veterans fulfills the mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, founded in 2003 by Blue Star mother Catherine Roberts, of Delaware. The organization thus far has awarded to veterans some 80,500 Quilts of Valor made by crafters all over the country as reminders of respect and thankfulness for recipients’ service.

The two Quilts of Valor awarded at the ceremony went to a pair of Bedford veterans. One went to World War II veteran Myles Walker, 92, who was a pilot during the war. Another quilt went to William “Bill” Earnshaw, a Navy veteran who also served with pride. Earnshaw was one of the primary organizers of the Salute for Serving, yet his fellow members from the historical society somehow kept it a secret that he was also be honored. His surprise was evident in his smile.

Earnshaw deemed this year’s Salute for Serving an “outstanding success.”

“The third annual salute to veterans was an outstanding success, for veterans from several different wars, along with their families, turned out in large numbers,” Earnshaw said. “The 70-member Bedford High School band played patriotic and military songs for more than 100 attendees. The committee already is planning next year’s event.”

Walker, who flew a last mission just before the Japanese surrendered aboard the USS Missouri, was a part of a massive show of air power that followed the enemy’s surrender aboard the ship. Online details from the Naval Historical Center note that upon the conclusion of the ceremony, some 450 carrier planes from the Third Fleet passed overhead followed by a demonstration from Army Air Force B-29 bombers. Walker was there for the moment in history.

State Representative John Cebrowski was the event’s guest speaker. He recalled his days in Vietnam and extend thanks to all veterans whether they served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere. He shared with the audience a series of words that he said reflected the emotions he felt during his wartime experiences. The words included pride, surprise, fear, sorrow, anger, success and joy.

The words were illuminated with anecdotes. Some were humorous. Some brought to him a tightening of the throat and an unintended pause before his words moved past the hitch. He spoke of those who lost their lives. He entered the war as a first lieutenant in the Marines and was among the 200,000 troops arriving in 1965. He served as a forward air controller, air liaison officer and an attack pilot. He went home as a captain in 1967 to reunite with his wife, Amanda, and a 2-year-old daughter, Suzanne.

Cebrowski contended with snipers and bullets and bombs. The Vietcong guerrilla force – Vietnamese communists – sometimes surrounded Cebrowski’s unit as if the “VC” were Indians surrounding a wagon train. Other times, the enemy used hidden weapons such as grenades secreted beneath the trails. He related an instance when during the night he heard a rustling sound he suspected was an enemy creeping closer to him. It was not an enemy. It was a 2,000-pound water buffalo.

“It was a very tough and maturing experience but an appreciated and valued one,” Cebrowski said. “I did come home with a sense of gratitude to God that I made it home safely.”

For more information on the third annual Salute for Serving, contact the Bedford Historical Society at www.bedfordhistoricalnh.org.