Milford honors its World War II dead

MILFORD – Howard Sanford had no family member to lay a wreath near his name on Sunday, but he had the next best thing – a fellow soldier.

Sanford died in 1943 when his ship carrying him to a war zone was torpedoed. He and the 12 other men from Milford who died in World War II were honored Sept. 7 during a rededication ceremony for the town’s World War II park.

Although Sanford’s name lives on in the name of Milford’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4368, Harley-Sanford Post, genealogical searches failed to find any of Sanford’s descendents to invite to the rededication.

Sanford and Hartley Harley were the first two Milford men to lose their lives in the war,

So Rosario Ricciardi, a veteran of World War II who served at the Battle of Luzon, attached Pvt. Sanford’s wreath to his picture mounted in front of the memorial.

Frail and unsteady, Sarooch, as he is called, is 94. The former Milford selectman needed help getting from his seat in the audience to the memorial, but slowly and surely he did it.

Another World War II veteran, Rosario Charles Locicero, attached the wreaths for Pvt. George Warren Kimball and Pvt. William Wallace Girardin Maxwell, two other soldiers who have no known descendents.

Gold stars

The names of all 553 men and women who served in the war are on the monument, and this year gold stars were engraved next to the names of those who died.

“They are more than names, they are lives,” said Gary Williams, chaplain of the town’s emergency services during his invocation.

Keynote speaker was Lt. Col. Sara Jackson, the commander of the New Boston Air Force Tracking Station.

World War II was the deadliest war in history, she said, and the entire country “rose to the occasion” and these 13 men from Milford gave the ultimate sacrifice. “Their selfless acts will be remembered … and the United States will be forever grateful.”

Milford state Rep. and selectmen’s Chairman Gary Daniels told how 13 arborvitae trees were planted in the Union Street park in 1948 as a living memorial and the newly planted trees will continue to honor the war dead.

“We have a duty to pass on to the next generation the stories of their sacrifices,” he said. “Please keep their names in your hearts and minds.”

The word “hero” is “thrown around a lot,” said Williams in his closing words, but these men were “real heroes who gave their lives in far off places.”

VFW Commander John Raymond presided over the ceremonies, which took place on a beautiful end-of-summer day in front of a large audience, including family members of the soldiers, sailors, pilots and marines who served in World War II.

Representatives of Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen gave short speeches, members of the Milford VFW Honor guard gave a firing squad salute and the Hudson American Legion Band played taps.

The World War II Memorial Park Committee lead a year-long effort to refurbish the park after it was decided that there should be a way to tell who were the 13 who died and that the old arborvitae were dangerously tall and should be replaced.

The committee was lead by Carolina Lambalot and aided by the Milford Garden Club, the Milford Improvement Team, the Harley-Sanford VFW Post 4368, the Milford Historical Society, Boy Scout Troop 407 and the town.

A bronze plaque now stands in front of the monument, explaining the significance of the 13 trees and the gold stars.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@