Gagnon named Veterans Day grand marshal

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Gerard (Ken) Gagnon
Photo/submitted

Town announces plans for Veterans Day 

Westborough – Westborough has named Gerard (Ken) Gagnon as this year’s Veterans Day grand marshal.

Gagnon is originally from Quincy. He attended grammar school there before going to Sacred Heart High School in Weymouth. After high school, he had a few different jobs, primarily doing surveying work for a company in Quincy. After two years, he said, “the draft board called, but I decided to join the Army for three years.”

“When I signed up I was told by my recruiter I would be going to school in Fort Belvoir, Va., to be a construction surveyor,” Gagnon recalled. “Boy was I misled!”

Instead he went to Fort Sill, Okla., and then to Fort Carson, Colo., to be assigned to a tank unit heading to Vietnam. After about a month his group was reassigned to go to Fort Belvoir to study construction survey. Upon completion, he was shipped out to Vietnam as a replacement person.

“I spent my time ‘in country’ doing construction work, as well as guard duty in fox holes and towers. That was an experience. Sitting in a fox hole looking into the night and hoping we didn’t get attacked. The bulk of my time was spent building large tanks to hold gas or building barracks for the men and women to sleep in. We also created roads in the jungle for the trucks to travel on, which was quite the task.”

When he returned to civilian life, he went to night school and earned two degrees under the G.I. Bill, while helping to raise three children. He found employment with Mass. Electric and spent his career doing engineering work for the company.

“Good fortune was with me, as I finished my career working in Westborough, the town where my wife and I have raised our children,” Gagnon said. “We have spent almost 40 years here and are very happy and proud to have been a part of the community.

“To this day, I vividly remember how we were treated when we came home from Nam,” he noted. “I want to thank everyone for the way you treat vets now.”

Gagnon will take part in the Veterans Day ceremonies Sunday, Nov. 11, beginning at 9 a.m. at the VFW Post 9013 on Milk Street.

Stops on the parade route include memorials at Minuteman Park, Pine Grove Cemetery and the Forbes Municipal Building, where there will be services, wreath-laying and remarks.

Master of Ceremonies Al Tournas will present the speakers who include state representatives Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury), Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston) and Danielle Gregoire (D-Marlborough), as well as Board of Selectmen Chair Leigh Emery and Gold Star Mother Rita Lee.

Westborough High School buglers John Pashapour and Michel Shaker will perform “Taps” and the a cappella ensemble Harmony in Heels led by Grace Desmond, Kaya Fung and Isabelle Seymour will sing the National Anthem.

    At 11:11 a.m. at the Forbes Building, “Bells of Peace” will toll 21 times to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The parade will end at the Westborough Rotary. Commander Raymond Fitzgerald offers collation for participants and invited guests at VFW Post 9013.