By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – A ceremony was held Feb. 7 at the Westborough Town Hall to honor the late George A. Perry III as the town’s Veteran of the Year.
The award was created to honor the town’s veterans “who make extraordinary contributions to the town and foster the well-being of their ex-military neighbors.”
Perry entered the U.S. Army at the age of 18 and served for eight years on active duty from January 1966 to December 1968. During that time he was stationed in Vietnam and received the Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with 60 device, National Defense Service Medal and two Overseas Bars.
Following his service with the U. S. Army, he enlisted with the U.S. Air Force where he served for 38 years, retiring as Chief Senior Master Sergeant. He was recognized with the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster and Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon. He was a graduate of the ANG NCO Academy and USAF senior NCO Academy.
Perry served as the veterans’ agent for the town of Westborough for many years and initiated the move to create a district, adding the towns of Shrewsbury, Grafton and Northborough.
He was a member and past commander of the VFW Post 9013, a member of the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans. As a leader within the Westborough Veterans Advisory Board and the Trustees of the Soldiers Memorials, he advocated for veterans and veterans issues as well as supervising Westborough’s Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs.
Perry passed away in April 2014 at the age of 66.
During the Feb. 7 ceremony, his friends and colleagues spoke of his dedication to serving veterans in whatever way they needed.
Kenneth Ferrera, the current veterans’ service officer for Westborough, recalled that Perry had been a “wonderful mentor and great advocate for veterans.”
Recently, he said, several things had occurred which made him believe his friend’s presence was still very much evident. That included finding a long-forgotten VCR copy of the Westborough TV show, “Veterans Corner,” that he had done with Perry in 2007.
“You’re still here someplace, reminding us of all you did for the veterans,” Ferrera said.
Police Chief Alan Gordon noted that Perry had always made a point of reaching out to him to ensure that everything was organized and in place for the town’s annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day commemorations.
“Thank you for lending us him,” Gordon said to Perry’s widow, Donna.
As the former VFW commander, Michael Duplessis noted that Perry had been proud of his family, the Air Force, his town and his status as a veteran. It had been so important to Perry, Duplessis said, that he use whatever means were necessary to help veterans “get the help they so desperately needed.”
“I just wish he was here one more time so he could step up and accept this award himself,” he said.
Denzil Drewry, a current selectman and former quartermaster of VFW 9013, also spoke about his longtime friend.
“He always helped veterans with whatever they needed, no matter who they were,” Drewry said. “I miss a lot of things about you, George, and I love you.”
Paul Horrigan relayed how Perry had helped him with his disability forms shortly before he passed away.
“That was one of his last acts,” he said. “At his funeral, Father Foley called him a ‘great person, a tremendous person.’ He was definitely that.”
A plaque, donated by Crown Trophy of Northborough, was then presented to Perry’s brother, Ronald, who represented the family. Ronald Perry, who is the VFW’s current quartermaster, thanked those gathered and noted that the plaque will be placed at the VFW, the place where his brother had spent so many hours helping others.