AUGUSTA, Maine — Rusted, scratched and neglected, a World War II era howitzer sat unattended. It had been locked away in its trailer, shoved behind a warehouse, and all but forgotten.
Earlier this year, a request came to retired Master Sgt. Frank Norwood, the Maine Funerals Honors Coordinator. They wanted the Honor Guard and the howitzer for an important ceremony to take place this summer.
As it stood, the howitzer did not meet the high standards of the Maine State Select Honor Guard without undergoing some major work. The Honor Guard will reveal a completely restored 1941 75mm M116 howitzer, today. They will use the restored cannon in a ceremony to honor Vietnam Veterans at Head of Falls Park at the Two Cent Bridge in Waterville.
With help of Sgt. Doug Grant from the Combined Support Maintenance Shop, Honor Guard members took the block apart piece by piece so that every nut and bolt could be stripped from the unit, said Chabe. Endless hours were spent removing multiple layers of paint from the entire unit, sandblasting, sanding, and even grinding the bare metal to work out the rough edges.
The howitzer will be put to use for the first time during today’s Vietnam Veterans Homecoming 50th Anniversary Ceremony in Waterville. During the ceremony, the veterans will cross a bridge to symbolize their flight home over the Ocean.
Participants, including family members of deceased veterans will gather between 5:00 and 5:45 PM at the Winslow Gazebo Park at 114 Benton Avenue today. They will proceed across the Two Cent Bridge, and be individually announced as they enter Waterville Head of Falls Park.
The howitzer will be a part of the Maine Honors Program. A specific list of criteria for its use is being compiled in order to narrow down requests to ensure that it is used only for occasions of greatest importance.