Soldiers, veterans celebrate Armed Forces Week at Natick
Medal of Honor recipient Thomas J. Hudner Jr. (left) speaks with Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Beausoleil during a veterans' luncheon, May 16, 2013, at Natick Soldier Systems Center, Mass.

NATICK, Mass. (May 20, 2013) -- In conjunction with Armed Forces Week, Natick Soldier Systems Center held a series of gatherings for current Soldiers and veterans, May 15-17.

Veterans from the Town of Marlborough were invited May 15 to speak with some of the younger Soldiers and share their experiences. Pvt. Maryanne Fair, a human research volunteer, or HRV, at NSSC, participated in and appreciated the event.

"It's definitely an amazing opportunity for us, because in many units or places we will go, we won't have that opportunity," Fair said.

Fair said she is uncertain of where her career will take her, but speaking with other veterans has put her possible future into perspective.

"I do want to become an officer, so whether it is Green to Gold or West Point, I do plan to take full advantage of that," Fair said.

Pvt. Jacob Heargatt, another HRV, wants to become a warrant officer and said this experience helped him put one "boot" in front of another.

"It's always good to talk to the sergeant major, someone that has been in a lot longer than I have," Heargatt said. "Most of the time, we just talk to our sergeants, who more than likely have just a couple more years experience (than us), so talking to someone that's been in for 20 years, it's a huge difference to get ahead and get planning set up."

Medal of Honor recipient retired Capt. Thomas Hudner shared his story with a group of NSSC veterans, May 16.

Hudner graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1946 and served as a communications officer. Initially, he had no desire to fly, but soon found himself to be first in a group of about five who got orders for flight training. Hudner said he had no regrets and really enjoyed it.

In 1950 Hudner crash-landed his aircraft in an attempt to rescue his downed wing man, Ensign Jesse Brown. Brown died, but Hudner received the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions.

After 27 years of dedicated service to the Navy, Hudner, who also served in Vietnam, retired.

"I have been very proud of my service in the Navy and very proud of being part of the veterans' community all throughout the world," Hudner said. "It's great to be able to come out and see all of you and just talk a little bit."

Spc. Reginald Farrior, another HRV, was surprised by Hudner's recollection of that fateful evening.

"He got the highest award that he could possibly get, and he wasn't talking about himself, he was talking about the other officer," Farrie said. "It's just good to come here and be here for only a month and be a part of something that great."

Veterans from the Town of Natick were invited to share their stories, May 17.

Paul Carew, director of veteran's services for the town, had a hand in coordinating this year's event.

"I think it's so important," Carew said. "Look around at the older veterans telling their stories. That is so good for them. I know as a licensed counselor that you have to tell your story to heal, and for these guys they are having such a great time."

While the older veterans had a chance to heal, the younger Soldiers had a chance to gain insight about military history.

Pvt. Gabrielle Hancsak, HRV, wanted the event to continue.

"They have so much more to teach us" she said.

When describing the day's events, one word came to her mind.

"Exquisite," Hancsak said. "It's like a delicacy that you won't be able to have; just to savor it and enjoy the moment that you have."

Flying Tigers veteran Joseph Poshefko, a Natick resident, was among those who visited NSSC.

"We need what (NSSC scientists and researchers) offer," Poshefko said. "The clothes, food, medical training, the dedication, the faithfulness of our young group; I think we have the finest group of members in service that I have ever seen."

Lt. Col. Frank Sobchak, Natick garrison commander, said that these gatherings give the younger generation a chance to learn from the older generation.

"Events like these are what Armed Forces Day is supposed to be all about," Sobchak said, "because the Armed Forces, ultimately, we're a family.

"People talk about the one percent and about the special few (who serve)," he continued. "Well guess what? We are the one percent. We are the ones who all put our lives on the line all so we can serve our country, serve in times of war and in times of peace."

Page last updated Fri June 7th, 2013 at 09:15