Stockton Springs– As America honors all our nation’s heroes in the armed services, with the help of U.S. Senator Susan Collins, one special ceremony in Stockton Springs on Saturday paid special tribute to a hero killed during World War II.
In January 1943, 19-year-old Jerry W. Dobbins was among the flight crew of the “Beats Me,” a B-17 F bomber in the 303rd Bomb Group. The crew was flying a mission over France when it came under attack. During the fight, the tail section of Dobbins’ plane was struck by bombs falling from the plane above. His plane disabled, Dobbins helped several crew members jump to safety before his plane crashed in rural France, killing Jerry Dobbins.
70-years after that fateful day, Dobbins’ heroism was recognized by family and members of the Jerry W. Dobbins American Legion Post #157. With their help, Senator Collins was able to successfully secure medals that Dobbins had earned, including the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor. In addition, Senator Collins successfully secured two other medals Sergeant Dobbins earned in his service: the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. Senator Collins also presented Sergeant Dobbins’ family, and members of the American Legion Post #157, with United States flags flown in Dobbins’ honor over the U.S. Capitol.
“One of the great privileges I enjoy as a United States Senator is helping our veterans obtain the medals and commendations they earned in uniform but never received. Most often, these cases are brought to my attention by family members or friends,” said Senator Collins. “In this case, it was an entire community, and the people of Stockton Springs should be proud of what they have accomplished for Jerry.
“It is fitting that we come together just two days before America’s annual day of respect and gratitude for all who serve our country,” continued Senator Collins. “On Veterans’ Day, we honor those who paid the ultimate price, like Jerry Dobbins, whether they lie at rest in foreign lands, in our nation’s capital, or in their hometowns. We honor those who lived beyond their years of military service, but who have since passed on. We honor those who remain missing and pledge that they never will be forgotten. And we honor those veterans who are with us today. We owe them all a great debt.”
Receiving the medals on behalf of the Dobbins’ family was Jerry Dobbins’ nephew, Gene Dobbins, who, in 1969, he said he first asked his family about trying to obtain the medals that his uncle had earned.
“Everybody thought it was too much trouble, too daunting of a task,” said Mr. Dobbins. But in 2011, with the permission of the family, members of the American Legion Post named in Jerry Dobbins’ honor contacted Senator Collins. “This is something that Jerry deserved… that he had given his life for. And my family is truly grateful,” said Dobbins.
Also in attendance at Saturday’s ceremony was; Lieutenant Colonel Peter Ogden, Director of Maine Veterans Affairs; Brig. General Gerard Bolduc, Commander of Maine Air National Guard; Maine State Senator Mike Thibodeau (R-Winterport); Ed Burns, 1st Vice Commander Post #157; and Hanna McKinney, 11th grade student at Searsport High School who sang the Star Spangled Banner.