World War II monument: 112 names, 112 stories

By Roxanne Moore Saucier, BDN Columnist
Posted Nov. 11, 2012, at 7:22 p.m.

Fred and Bernice (Drew) Getchell were Household No. 1 in Glenburn during the 1930 census. Fred, a farmer, was 57, and Bernice was 36. Son Howard W. Getchell was 6, and younger son Horace W. was 4 months old. Bernice’s older children, Charles and Alice Marshall, were 15 and 12.

By the 1940 census, the Getchell family was listed as living on Broadway in Bangor. Howard W. Getchell enlisted in the U.S. Army on Feb. 1, 1943 in Bangor. He was 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 175 pounds. He signed up for the immateriel unit, citing experience as a driver.

Sgt. Howard W. Getchell went overseas with the 39th Infantry, 9th Division, landing at Utah Beach, Normandy, on June 10, 1944, also known as “D-Day plus 4.”

The 39th was led by Col. Harry “Paddy” Flint, who labeled the regiment the AAA-0, which stood for Anything, Anytime, Anywhere Bar Nothing.

Colonel Flint, 56, was killed in action on July 24, 1944, at St. Lo. Sgt. Howard W. Getchell was killed there on Aug. 6. He was 20.

“Getchell, Howard W.” is at the top of the center row of names on the Bangor World War II Memorial, which was placed by Guernsey Monument on Nov. 7 near the Maine World War II Memorial at Cole Land Transportation Museum, 405 Perry Road.

Since it was dedicated 15 years ago, the state memorial has had a tribute to the Bangor veterans killed in WWII engraved on one side of its base. Further, the bronze sculpture of the World War II soldier on the memorial was based on Charles A. Flanagan, one of 112 Bangor men killed in the war.

For 15 years, Galen Cole has been talking about a monument that would specifically honor those Bangor men, including his “best boyhood friend,” Charlie Flanagan. The city pledged to do it according to the 1945 City Report, Galen found out some years ago.

I don’t know why the memorial didn’t get built way back then, or whether it was destined to happen this year. But there certainly was a new spark to the discussion this summer after 1958 Mayor Galen Cole invited 2012 Mayor Cary Weston to attend the final reunion of the 5th Armored Division in Bangor.

Cary Weston, whose late grandfather Harry attended Bangor High with Galen Cole and served in the Navy during World War II, encouraged Galen to pursue the project and said he was sure there would be businesses and organizations that would want to support it. Cary went on to round up several major donations that will cover a substantial portion of the costs.

I’ve been thinking this past week that I wish the parents of each of the Bangor men listed on the monument could have seen this memorial, which I’m sure they would have appreciated.

The dedication will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, at the museum on Perry Road, with Cary Weston as master of ceremonies. Curator Lowell Kjenstad will dedicate the memorial, which will be unveiled by two World War II veterans. As the name of each of the 112 Bangor men killed in World War II is read, relatives and classmates and friends are invited to stand in tribute.

I didn’t grow up in Bangor, so I’m a long way from knowing all the names on this memorial — but I do plan to learn them. As I looked at a photo of the new monument, a museum volunteer standing next to me quietly pointed to the top name in the center row.

“He was my first cousin, Howard W. Getchell. He was killed at St. Lo,” said Charlene (Drew) Carter.

Suddenly I was interested in Howard’s story and that of the 39th Infantry in the war. I learned more about Howard’s regiment and division by looking them up on the Internet. That’s family history, too. His is just one of 112 stories represented by the memorial. You can read those stories and see photographs of these men in the Book of Honor, which is on display in a glass case at Bangor Public Library.

After the dedication, the annual Veterans Day Program, featuring students reading their essays, “What Freedom Means to Me After Interviewing a Veteran,” will be held inside the museum, along with a patriotic concert by the Bangor Band.

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The Brewer Historical Society will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, in the meeting room at First United Methodist Church, 40 South Main St., Brewer. Mike and B.J. Maybury, representing the Penobscot Riverkeepers, will speak on the organization’s involvement with school students through teaching water safety and the history of the Penobscot River. Refreshments will be served.

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Washington County Historical and Genealogical Society will meet at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, in the Emergency Management Room at 28 Center St., Machias.

WCHGS is a group dedicated to historical preservation and genealogical research in Washington County. By working together historical societies, genealogists and researchers can pool their limited resources, collaborate on larger-scale projects and promote each other’s work. Members receive a quarterly newsletter, Weirs & Woods, which features free queries, information and genealogical material, in addition to news from the affiliating Washington County historical societies.

Membership in WCHGS is open to anyone interested in learning more about family genealogy and-or the history of Washington County and neighboring Charlotte County, New Brunswick. Officers are: president, Betsy Fitzgerald of Bucks Harbor; vice president, Celeste Sherman, Machiasport; secretary, Valdine Atwood, Machias, and treasurer, Carole Sprague, Marshfield. Dues are $10 a year, payable to WCHGS and sent to Carole Sprague, 301 Ridge Road, Marshfield 04654.

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The Town of Holden Veterans Memorial Committee will conduct a Veterans Memorial Service at 2:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, at the memorial, on Route 1A between the Town Office and Holden Elementary School. All are welcome.

For i nformation on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402, or email familyti@bangordailynews.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/11/11/living/world-war-ii-monument-112-names-112-stories/ printed on December 28, 2014