By Beth David, Editor
The North Fairhaven Improvement Association commemorated the death of PFC Ernest Benoit, US Army, who was killed in WWI on 10/13/1918, just seven days shy of his 28th birthday, and 29 days before the end of the war. He was the first Fairhaven resident killed in action in World War I. Benoit Square was named after him in 1928 by a Town Meeting vote. The ceremony, held on 10/20/2018, was held on his birthday.
The event also commemorated the deaths of Lance Corporal Patrick J. Gallagher, and Lance Corporal Matthew R. Rodriguez, both US Marines.
LCpl. Gallagher, 27, was killed on 4/2/06 in Iraq during “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” LCpl. sRodriguez, 19, was killed on 12/11/13 in Afghanistan.
Ted Silva, who emceed the event, told the crowd of about 75 that he felt PFC Benoit would be “very disappointed” if he were “looking down” on the activities, because WWI was supposed to be the war to end all wars.
Mr. Silva also told the story of Pvt. Benoit’s “buddy,” Enos Bettencourt of Pennsylvania, who was originally from Portugal. He quoted from articles in the Fairhaven Star from 1918, that reprinted some of Pvt. Benoit’s letters. Both Benoit and Bettencourt were killed in action at the same time, in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France, as members of Company D of the 321st Machine Gun Battalion. They are both buried in France.
“And although it’s been a hundred years that does not diminish the signficance of what he did,” said Mr. Silva, or the other soldiers from Fairhaven who died since then.”
Mr. Silva told the crowd that 31 soldiers from Fairhaven died in the Civil War, 15 from WWI, 51 from WWII, seven in Korea, eight in Vietnam, and two in the gulf wars.
Other speakers include retired Fairhaven Veterans Agent James Cochran, and Vietnam Veteran George Brownell. The Rev. Bette McClure gave the invocation. The Marines and Boy Scouts also participated in the ceremony, and singers were Lillly Lafountaine and Alyssa Costa. The event was sponsored by the NFIA.
Benoit Square is at the corner of Howland Road and Main Street, where Main Street and Adams Street merge. A memorial to LCpl. Patrick Gallagher is also in the square. It is a public space with a gazebo that is used for events throughout the year.
WWI ended at 11:11 on 11/11/1918. November 11 is now commemorated as Veterans Day in the US. Fairhaven will hold its annual Veterans Day parade on Sunday, 11/11, at 9 a.m. See page 5 for details.
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Click here to download the entire 10/18/18 issue: 10-25-18 PFCBenoit