STOCKTON SPRINGS, Maine — It was clear Saturday afternoon that hometown World War II hero Jerry Dobbins has not been forgotten.
A crowd of more than 100 people packed the Stockton Springs Elementary School gymnasium to honor Dobbins, who died when his B-17 plane was shot down in 1943 over occupied France. Just before the wounded aircraft went down, Dobbins had given his crucial oxygen tube to a radio operator who had lost his. The operator, 90-year-old Charles Roth of Grand Junction, Colo., was a guest of honor at the weekend celebration. After surviving the plane crash, he spent the duration of the war as a German prisoner.
“It’s pretty wonderful,” he said after the presentations were over.
His grandson, also named Charles Roth, said that he was just glad the aging veteran had the chance to come to Maine and meet members of Dobbins’ family. He said he had been hearing more details about his grandfather’s wartime experiences during the trip to Maine than he had ever before.
“This is great,” he said.
One of Dobbins’ family members was Christine Wheaton, his niece.
“We are blown away by the love and concern,” she said during the event. “It is about a small-town Maine boy who only wanted to follow his dreams. He met that band of brothers and felt what it was like to soar above the clouds. He had no idea that almost 70 years later, people would still be honoring his memory.”
Jack Stearns of Vassalboro served as an Army Ranger during the Korean War. He said that the country is losing its World War II veterans “so fast.”
“This is a great honor for those veterans,” he said.