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Honoring our Veterans and Service Men and Women

November 11, 2011

On this Veteran’s Day, my family and I are thinking of ALL service men and woman who have served and are currently serving our country.

I thought it fitting to re-print a blog I originally posted in 2008. 

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I was recently reminded of the sacrifices our soldiers make for our country when my daughter invited her uncle, Marcel Boisvert (right), a World War II veteran and former POW, to speak to her U.S. History class about his experiences.

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.

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Marce’s story prompted us to remember my husband, Harry’s, uncle Roger Stearns who 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 (right), 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, who wanted to be just like his uncle!), 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.

About Jan Stearns

I've been living in and loving New Hampshire's White Mountains for most of my life. I moved to Waterville Valley in 1981 and quickly realized why it was dubbed a Yankee Shangri-la. Once you’ve experienced Waterville Valley, you’ll want to call it yours. The great team of Realtors at Waterville Valley Realty can help you find a Waterville Valley home that fits your lifestyle and budget.

2 thoughts on “Honoring our Veterans and Service Men and Women

  • Dennis McAtavey says:

    Marcel, “Marce” Boisvert, is also my uncle. I also am grateful for his service to our country. He has always been a hero to me. He taught me to tie my shoes, encouraged me when I felt doubt. I remember when my son was baptisied he told me, “Dennis, you have a beauiful baby….a beautiful baby! So happy to feel the happiness of the new addition to the family.
    The stories of his kindness are endless, Perhaps his service to our country will number as one of his most selfless acts but is only one of so many great things this moral giant of a man has done.
    Today we honor him for his bravery and service to our beloved country. My feeling is we should remember and honor Marce every day, for it is everyday that he shows kindness and that I think of him remembering him as a loving uncle and best friend.

    Dennis Bowen McAtavey

    • Jan Stearns says:

      So,so true, Dennis! I sat in on Marce’s talk at Holderness School. I always knew he was a wonderful person, but after hearing about his sacrifices during the war AND after he returned to the states from a German POW camp, I think his strength, determination and resilience is amazing.

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