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Veterans group looking for 103rd Infantry members for recognition ceremony

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Veterans’ Services is looking for old Army buddies from World War II who served with the 103rd Infantry Regiment and their surviving family members for a special recognition service next week.

“The state of Maine wants you to attend a special recognition ceremony on Saturday, June 18, 2011, in Augusta,” Capt. Shanon Cotta of the Maine National Guard said in a press release.

The unit’s last official reunion — its 46th annual gathering — was held in Lewiston a decade ago, with 40 or so of the original 400 in attendance, according to a Bangor Daily News report at the time.

The June 18 ceremony will take place from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Augusta Armory, and will include a brief history of the regiment’s battles in the Pacific, and the presentation of the State of Maine Silver Star Honorable Service Medals to those wounded in combat and awarded a Purple Heart. The families of those who died fighting in the Pacific will receive the State of Maine Gold Star Honorable Service Medal.

“The Maine Military Historical Society will provide an overview of the regiment, the battles fought, and the regiment’s campaign participation,” Cotta said. “The 103rd was the largest Maine unit mobilized during World War II with members coming from throughout the state. Companies of the 103rd were called to duty from the Auburn, Augusta, Belfast, Biddeford, Dexter, Gardiner, Lewiston, Mechanic Falls, Millinocket, Newport, Norway, Portland, Rumford, Skowhegan, Waterville and Westbrook.

“Families of those members who are no longer with us are welcome to come and hear the exploits of the 103rd Infantry Regiment as they fought through the South Pacific, and meet with living members,” Cotta said. “If your loved one never talked about his experiences in the Pacific, this may be an opportunity for you to learn about the 103rd’s and their service during WWII.”

At the last reunion, the unit’s members swapped stories about the good times they had, about serving together in the military, and about the friendships that lasted for years after the war ended, the May 2, 2001, Bangor Daily News article said.

“We never dwell on the bad parts of the war when we get together,” Harrington “Red” Newell of Auburn said a decade ago. “None of us talk about that. It does no good to bring it all back up. The guys always say they’d never want to go through it again, but they don’t ever regret what happened. We did what we had to do and moved on.”

Those who plan to attend may contact Maine Veterans’ Services at 430-6034 or by email at MaineBVS@maine.gov to ensure they are placed on the list to receive recognition.

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