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Dedication ceremony honors local veterans

SOUTHWICK – The dedication of the Veterans Memorial Foyer took place in the gymnasium of the Southwick Regional School on Monday morning.

The ceremony was to honor four veterans who died while serving their country, and either lived or went to school in Southwick. The four men are Richard Power, William Alamed Jr., Stephen Wentworth, and Travis Fuller.

The gold star families were escorted to their seats prior to the opening ceremony that was conducted by Ryan Dietert, the Commander of Southwick VFW Post 872.

The three plaques of the veterans were on display for people in attendance to look at and honor. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick)

Joe Turmel, the Southwick Regional High School Principal who has worked with VFW Post 872 for numerous months to help organize this ceremony, spoke to those in attendance and at the end was pleased with how the ceremony turned out.

“The families of Southwick and their fallen soldiers, they at least deserve this from us,” said Turmel. “To see the turnout that we had today, from the soldiers and the veterans and the agencies across the state, was just really overwhelming.”

After Turmel spoke, Superintendent Jen Willard gave her remarks and focused her thoughts on the students at the school. The regional school students were in attendance for the ceremony and Willard believed it was important to have them present.

“These were real Southwick and Granville students, they were just like them, they had the same interests as them, they had the same hopes and dreams,” said Willard. “When they walk in every day, I want them to look at that wall and I want them to remember and look at these faces and thank them every day.”

The rest of the ceremony included presentations from veteran’s services across the state as well as a presentation from Gold Star Mother Shirley Odell.

Each of the families of those being honored were in attendance. Jennifer Francis, who is the sister of Travis Fuller, was appreciative of the event.

Major Tommy Olson of United States Marine Corps speaks to the crowd during the dedication ceremony on Monday morning. (Photo from Troy Henke)

“It was just great that so many people came,” said Francis. “I thought the Superintendent (Willard) did a very good job, I thought that was a very good way to look at it.”

The mother of Fuller, Joanne Fuller, was glad to see her son’s plaque at the regional school. The gymnasium at the former Granville Village School was named after Fuller, and this was a perfect way to honor him.

“It’s nice that the memorial is here,” said Fuller.

Troy Henke, Chairman of VFW Post 872, has been at the forefront of helping create the ceremony and the dedication foyer, was pleased with the outcome.

“This is exactly what we always envisioned it would be. The families were very appreciative and they were very touched by everything,” said Henke. “It got state and national attention, which it should have from the inception.”

According to Henke, the lettering is already in place in the foyer and the plaques for Alamed Jr. and Wentworth, and Fuller should be installed in the next couple of weeks. Power will also be getting a plaque and should have one installed in the near future. 

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