On this Veteran’s Day, it seems fitting to reprint a post I originally wrote in 2008.
In April 2008, my daughter, Jenna, invited her uncle, Marcel Boisvert (above), a World War II veteran and former POW, to speak to her high school U.S. History class about his POW experience. Jenna’s teacher, Susie Cirone, summarized Marcel’s moving presentation:
By Susie Cirone (Holderness School), April 26, 2008.
Dr. Marcel Boisvert, great uncle of Jenna Stearns ’09, World War II veteran, and former POW, visited Ms. Cirone’s US History class today to speak about his experiences as a tail-gunner in a B-17 in the US Air Force.
“Marce” enlisted in 1943, trained in Nevada and Colorado, and was quickly shipped off to England. During his fourth mission (a bombing run originally targeted for Dresden, Germany but re-routed to Czechoslavakia), he and his crew were shot down over enemy territory. In his first time evacuating a plane, Boisvert kicked open the jammed exit hatch and parachuted to the ground, only to find himself a hundred yards or so from a large, German military fortification.
He and the rest of his crew were captured and interrogated. He spoke of being transported by train in an “8-40,” a box car intended to accommodate eight horses, but which held between forty and seventy-five prisoners for days at a time. Boisvert spent three months in captivity, until Victory in Europe Day (May 7 and 8, 1945), when the Germans surrendered.
Boisvert was just 18-years old at the end of the war; upon his return, he re-enlisted in the Air Force. Later, he attended Tufts University’s School of Dental Medicine. Currently, Boisvert resides in Massachusetts with his wife, Barbara.
We appreciate Dr. Boisvert’s taking the time today to bring an important part of US history to our class in such a personal, engaging, and powerful way.
My husband, Harry’s, uncle Roger Stearns served in Europe during World War II and was killed in Italy during the final days of battle. Harry’s uncle Arno Shepardson served with the Eighth Armored Division in Europe during World War II. He fought in the battles of Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe, for which he was highly decorated. And Harry’s uncle, Stanley Durgin (above), enlisted in the Army Air Corps in early 1941 and was sent to the Phillipines. He was wounded in the fighting there and taken prisoner, but survived the Bataan Death March and was imprisoned in Japan for more than three years. His POW camp was within the primary target of the second atomic bomb, but weather conditions forced the drop on the secondary target – Nagasaki.
Harry’s brother, Roger (below, pictured with my son, Tyler), served in the Army during Operation Desert Storm.
And, in my family, my father served in the Army during the Vietnam conflict, and my grandfather enlisted in the Seabees and served in the South Pacific during World War II.
Our thoughts, prayers and great appreciation are with the men and women who have served our country in the past and continue to serve today throughout the world.