Westborough Army veteran receives commendation
Westborough – For his entire 88 years, Howard “Pete” Fay has lived in Westborough, except for the years when he served in the U.S. Army in World War II. Since coming back to his hometown, Fay has been an involved and dedicated to not only his community, but also to the American Legion. Recently, he was honored with a commendation from the Legion’s national office to acknowledge his 70 years of membership in Westborough’s Stowell-Parker Post 163 American Legion.
The oldest of four children, he got his nickname, “Pete,” he said, from a childhood classmate.
“Someone called me that and it just stuck,” he chuckled.
After graduating from Westborough High School in 1942, he joined the U.S. Army. During the next few years, he was stationed in several Army camps in the U.S. before being sent to North Africa and then Italy. There he found himself on the front line, fighting against men who were not much older than he was.
Many times the troops were positioned in the woods or mountains. Often the conditions were rainy and cold; the mud, he said, made it difficult for troops to get through.
Fay was part of the historic march when the U.S. Fifth Army entered and captured Rome from the German army.
“A million people came out to cheer us,” he said of the jubilant and grateful Italian citizens who greeted the Allies. “I had never seen so many people before.”
Toward the end of his service, he “caught a lucky break” when he was transferred to the battalion headquarters where he worked as a code clerk.
Fortunately, he said, he came through his time in Europe only slightly scathed, when he suffered an injury to his hand when a shell exploded.
But the impact of the war definitely left a lasting impression.
“We lost a lot of men,” he recalled quietly.
After the war, Fay came back to Westborough to work at his father’s dairy farm. When that business was sold, he went to work for the U.S. Postal Service, first as a substitute letter carrier in Westborough and then as superintendent of postal operations. He retired in 1985 after 20 years of service.
Fay has always served his town as well. For 25 years, like his father beforehand, he was an on-call firefighter. He has also served on the Board of Fire Engineers, Planning Board, Conservation Committee, Trustees of Soldiers Memorials and Veterans Advisory Board.
“It’s important to do your part,” he said.
That is also his philosophy when it comes to attending Westborough’s Annual Town Meeting, something he has done almost every year since 1946.
It’s important to attend, he said, because “every citizen has the right to cast his or her ballot and a government run by the citizens will help keep democracy alive.”
Fay added that he has also served as an Election Day poll worker since 1985.
“I’ve tried to resign several times, but [Town Clerk] Nancy [Yendriga] still keeps calling me back,” he joked.
Fay is also dedicated to the town’s Stowell-Parker Post 163 American Legion. The very tenets of the American Legion’s charter – patriotism, volunteerism, promoting peace and good will – are the very characteristics, Westborough’s Legion officials said, that also describe Fay.
“You can always count on Pete,” Nancy Friss-Hansen, the post’s commander said. “Wherever help is needed, he is there. He is always conscientious and is a great example of a Legionnaire.”
“He is one of the most remarkable and patriotic individuals that I know,” Lee Reed, the Legion’s senior vice commander, added.
To honor his service to the American Legion, Fay was recently presented with a certificate signed by the Legion’s national commander as well as a U.S. flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol.
At this point, Fay’s 70 years with the Legion, although certainly impressive, is not the longest tenure.
“That would be Louis Farnsworth, who had 71 years,” he said.
Nowadays, although Fay is not quite as involved in town service as he was, he does keep busy, he said, tending to his house and garden.
“But I haven’t lived there very long,” he noted. “Only 41 years.”
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