City honors fallen veterans with Medal of Liberty

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City honors fallen veterans with Medal of Liberty
Peter Maybay, left, and Jeanne Wickson, relatives of Michael Blanchette, listen to presentations made during the second annual Medal of Liberty/Medal of Fidelity ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Marlborough Senior Center. Michael Blanchette was killed in Vietnam in 1970; his portrait is on the table. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

MARLBOROUGH – Jeanne Wickson remembers babysitting Michael Blanchette.

“He had such a sense of humor,” she said.

Blanchette’s cousin, Peter Maybay, recalled going to Solomon’s Pond with Blanchette to hunt frogs.

Both relatives were on hand at the Marlborough Senior Center on Nov. 9 to help honor Blanchette – and six other Marlborough natives – who sacrificed their lives while in service to their country.

The Massachusetts Medal of Liberty – presented to the next of kin of those killed – was given in honor of William Crosby, Wilfred Demers, Richard Demers, George Hanlon and Michael Minehan.

The Massachusetts Medal of Fidelity – presented to the next of kin of those who died as a result of illness or disease in connection with their service – was given in honor of William Borowski.

City honors fallen veterans with Medal of Liberty
On Nov. 9, the city held the second annual Medal of Liberty/Medal of Fidelity for those who gave their lives in service to their country. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

“It’s a small token of appreciation for their sacrifice,” said Mayor Arthur Vigeant.

The city’s veterans services officer, Michael Hennessy, served as master of ceremonies.

Matthew Sargent, a lieutenant commander with the U.S. Navy, called out the names and achievements for each recipient, including Blanchette, who was killed in Vietnam in 1970 while serving with the 196th Infantry Brigade.

City honors fallen veterans with Medal of Liberty
Matthew Sargent, a lieutenant commander with the U.S. Navy and trustee with the Marlborough Historical Society, reads off the names and achievements of the seven Marlborough residents being honored with the Medal of Liberty/Medal of Fidelity on Nov. 9 at the Senior Center. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

The other honorees:

William Crosby – A gunners mate third class serving on board the USS Turner. He was killed when the vessel exploded just outside New York City in January 1944.

Wilfred Demers – A private first class with the 331st Infantry Regiment. He was killed in action in France in July 1944.

Richard Demers – Lance corporal, 7th Marine Regiment. He was killed in action in Vietnam in July 1966.

George Hanlon – Master sergeant serving at the Special Forces headquarters in Vietnam. He was killed in a motor vehicle accident in January 1967.

Michael Minehan – Lance corporal, 26th Marine Regiment. Killed in Vietnam in June 1968.

William Borowski – Specialist 5, 629th Supply Company. He survived the war (he was discharged from the Army in 1968), but he was exposed to aflatoxin B while in Vietnam. He died of liver cancer in 2001.

The ceremony was sponsored by the Marlborough Historical Society, with support from the mayor’s office and the Department of Veterans Services.

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