2012-10-12 / In the Know

Fire department honors World War II veterans


Veterans honored by the Scarborough Fire Department, front from left, were Ken Libby, Alfred Kinney, Paul Webster, Henry Bellavance, Earl Ahlquist, Clarence Ahlquist and Arthur Purington. Back, Jim Judge, Anthony Attardo Sr., Richard Collins, John Elliot, Stanley Payson, Robert Carson and Wendall Whitten Unable to attend were Ken Dolloff, Warren Delaware, Florence Ahlquist Link, Richard Sterling and Philip Bayley. (Peter Ollove courtesy photo) Veterans honored by the Scarborough Fire Department, front from left, were Ken Libby, Alfred Kinney, Paul Webster, Henry Bellavance, Earl Ahlquist, Clarence Ahlquist and Arthur Purington. Back, Jim Judge, Anthony Attardo Sr., Richard Collins, John Elliot, Stanley Payson, Robert Carson and Wendall Whitten Unable to attend were Ken Dolloff, Warren Delaware, Florence Ahlquist Link, Richard Sterling and Philip Bayley. (Peter Ollove courtesy photo) By B. Michael Thurlow Special contributor

The Scarborough Fire Department held its annual Old Timers Night on Sept. 29. This is a long-standing tradition where we recognize and honor our senior members for their service to our department and the community. Each year we have a social hour and dinner followed by a special presentation.

At this year’s event we honored our World War II veterans for their military service in addition to their service on the fire department. We also tried to contact and invite as many Scarborough World War II veterans as we could find even if they didn’t previously belong to the fire department. We were very pleased that 14 were able to attend. I’ve included a brief bio below of each of them as well as some of those that weren’t able to attend. The information was provided by our department historian, Mark Dyer, who is a World War II buff and personal friend of many of these outstanding individuals.

Jim “Papa” Judge joined the Marine Corps in June of 1945 at the age of 17. After his basic training he started specialized training for the invasion of mainland Japan, but the atomic bomb ended the war prior to the completion of his training.

Anthony Attardo Sr. was 17 when he joined the Army Air Corp. He served in the intelligence unit processing aerial photographs which served him well in his civilian career as the manager of a large photo processing company.

Richard Collins is a retired gold badge member of E4. He joined the Merchant Marines in 1944 at the age of 16 because he was too young for the Navy. When he turned 17 he transferred to the Navy and served in the Atlantic Theater.

John Elliot is a retired gold badge member of E3 who joined the Navy at the age of 17 and served in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters. He was assigned to a destroyer ship and had the distinct pleasure of personally meeting Admirals Nimitz, Halsey and Spuance during his career.

Stan Payson is a gold badge member of E4. He worked in the South Portland Shipyard building liberty ships during the war and was promoted to crew leader at the age of 18. He joined the Merchant Marine in 1944 so he could experience firsthand how the liberty ships he helped built operated in the rough Atlantic Ocean.

Robert Carson is also a gold badge member of E4. He joined the Navy at the age of 17 and was assigned to an anti-submarine aircraft squadron after completing his basic training. Carson was assigned to the brand new Brunswick Naval Air Station and worked as an air traffic controller.

Wendell Whitten is a gold badge member and was the first Captain of the Rescue. He joined the US Army Air Corps in 1942. He was assigned to aircraft maintenance duties and served at several stateside air bases.

Ken Libby is a rescue gold badge member who joined the US Army Air Corps in 1942. He was trained as a radio and radar technician and served at several air bases, where he installed and maintained radio and radar systems.

Alfred Kinney joined the Navy in 1944 following the footsteps of his three older brothers who were already in the Navy. He served in the Pacific Theater.

Paul Webster is a rescue gold badge member who joined the US Army in 1943. He was assigned to the 43rd Division which fought at several islands in the Pacific Theater.

Henry Bellavance joined the Navy in 1942 at the age of 17. He was stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Princeton which was involved in many battles in the Pacific. Bellavance was aboard the Princeton when it was hit and sustained heavy damage by an aerial bomb during the Battle of Lyete Gulf.

Earl Ahlquist joined the Marines at the age of 17. He was assigned to the 25 Marines and was wounded in action during the invasion and hard fought Battle of Iwo Jima. Ahlquist was a witness to the famous flag-raising on Mount Suribachi which became one of the most famous photos of the war.

Clarence Ahlquist joined the Coast Guard and served as a finish carpenter at several islands in the Pacific Theater.

Arthur Purington joined the US Army in 1943 and served in the Alaskan Theater assigned to a vehicle maintenance unit. He was later assigned stateside and trained hundreds of new recruits as a vehicle maintenance instructor.

Ken Dolloff is a gold badge member of E6/L1 who joined the Army in 1942. He was assigned to the 820th Engineer Aviation Battalion in the European Theater. This unit’s job was to build forward air bases. He took part in the D Day invasion of France and landed at Omaha Beach the morning after the initial attack. His unit served in France, Belgium and Germany.

Warren Delaware joined the Army in 1943. He was assigned to both the 9th and 3rd Army that fought in the European Theater. The 3rd Army was commanded by General Patton and Delaware saw him several times throughout the war. Warren’s unit saw action in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

Florence Ahlquist Link worked in the South Portland Shipyard during the early years of the war building liberty ships. In July of 1944 she joined the Navy and worked at stateside bases assigned to an aerial camera repair unit.

Richard Sterling joined the Army Air Corp in 1942. He trained as a pilot and received his wings a year later. He was assigned to the 373rd fighter bomber group in the Ninth Air Force stationed at a forward air base in Belgium. Sterling flew the famous P-47 Thunderbolt known for being able to take heavy damage and continue to fly.

His low-level missions were mainly to assist the ground units by attacking truck convoys, trains, troop depots and bridges. His flight mechanics were constantly teasing him for bringing back his plane with extensive damage. He witnessed firsthand the world’s first enemy jet fighter and the V-1 rocket in flight.

Philip Bayley joined the Navy in 1942. He was assigned to a minesweeper ship and served in the European Theater. The main duty of the ship was to escort Merchant Marine ships on convoys across the Atlantic and to guard against submarine attacks.

As Mark Dyer said during his presentation, “Many people look up to members of the fire and police service as heroes and oftentimes that is true, but firefighters and police officers need heroes, too, and these members of our greatest generation are our heroes.”

The Scarborough Fire Department was honored to recognize these heroes for their service to our country, our department and our community.

For more information or fire department questions, email mthurl@ci.scarborough.me.us or call 730-4201. B. Michael Thurlow is fire chief for Scarborough.

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