Villages pay tribute to local heroes |

Cooperstown and Richfield Springs pay homage to Vietnam-era ‘hometown heroes’ Robert Atwell and Paul Lent

With a lakeside ceremony on Memorial Day, the Village of Cooperstown dedicates a memorial to Robert W. Atwell who, in 1968, became the only villager to lose his life fighting in the Vietnam War.

The memorial comes after the hard work of Wayne T. Moakler and George Friend, who worked with Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, the Village Board of Directors and Village Attorney Martin Tillapaugh to select a suitable site – the Flagpole from Cooperstown Lakeside Park.

The ceremony begins at 1 p.m. on Monday, May 30, with remarks from Mr. Atwell’s sister, Neal Atwell Franklin, Mayor Tillapaugh, State Senator Peter Oberacker and VFW Commander Floyd Bourne. The Cooperstown Ladies Auxiliary will host a reception following the inauguration.

Ms Franklin said: “As the only remaining member of Bobby’s immediate family, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who made this day possible. Many have dedicated themselves to this project for at least a year; thank you to Mayor Tillapaugh, the Village of Cooperstown, the Rotary Club, the Lions Club, the VFW, the American Legion and the Ladies Auxiliary.

“A special thank you to all those who dedicated their time and talent to this project but especially to Wayne Moakler for his initiative,” she wrote. “May all who visit this memorial take a moment to reflect on Bobby’s life of service as well as the lives of the other 58,000 service members who died for their country.”

Moakler said John Vella and the Utica Sign and Graphics team donated time and expertise to design the plaque, and Mitch Hotaling’s village team installed the foundation and pedestal in steel. The Lions’ Club, Rotary Club, Cooperstown VFW and the American Legion shared the cost of the plaque equally.

“As you can see,” Mr. Moakler said, “over the past year, many teams and people have worked together on this project.”

Richfield Springs honors Lt. Col. Lent

Richfield Springs American Legion Post 616 recognizes Vietnam veteran helicopter pilot and 1965 Richfield Springs High School graduate Lieutenant Colonel Paul Careme (retired) as part of the village’s Memorial Day ceremonies on Monday, May 30.

“This homegrown hero spent two and a half years in combat in Vietnam during some of the most intense fighting,” the Post proudly proclaimed. “He was awarded the Legion of Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Bronze Stars, two Meritorious Service Medals, five Air Medals with V Device for heroism in aerial combat against an armed enemy, 72 Air Medals and three Army Commendation Medals. ”

Post 616 will honor Lt. Col. Lent – ​​who died in 2016 and is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery with military honor – with a plaque describing his heroism in battle. The Memorial Day Parade begins at 10:30 a.m. and ends at Memorial Park with a ceremony to follow.

“As we all know, our Vietnam veterans weren’t warmly welcomed back from the war and were often ridiculed for their service,” Post 616 said in a statement. “We hope our local citizens and veterans will turn up for this recognition of one of our own and be proud of his own service to their community and country.”

American Legion Post 616 invites veterans to stop by the Veterans Club after the ceremony to share military stories, memories and photos.

The annual Sons of American Legion Chicken BBQ will be available starting at noon; the Club’s annual raffle for 2022 is underway with a new John Deere S140 riding mower as the grand prize.

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Edward L. Robinett