Happy Veterans Day to our local veterans and thanks for their service.
I’d like to remind them that they and their caregivers should always be on alert for benefits they are entitled to. Rhode Island has an Office of Veterans Affairs headed by Kasim Yarn. His business card says “Working Together to ensure Every Veteran has the Opportunity to make it in Rhode Island.” His phone number is 401-921-2119, ext. 3, and email Kasim.Yarn@vets.ri.gov. His office is at 560 Jefferson Blvd., Suite 206, Warwick, RI 02886.
I met Yarn last July in Rep. James Langevin's office. My sole sibling, James R. Hirst, initiated getting our late father Robert S. Hirst's medals and awards reissued. I appreciate and thank Rep. Langevin and his staff for their efforts. Some others attended, including the media, with Westerly Sun reporter Cynthia Drummond present. I should note to readers who are veterans or their caregivers that our congressional delegation works on constituent service. That is one point of help to our veterans.
My late father was in the Rhode Island National Guard when it was absorbed into the United States Army in 1941, for World War II.
He was Ashaway’s longest serving postmaster and the last to be appointed by a president, and confirmed by the United States Senate. Robert S. Hirst, who died in 1994, participated as a paratrooper in Europe, in the Normandy Invasion, or “D-Day,” and in the Battle of the Bulge. He is noted on the large World War II plaque in the hallway of the Westerly Armory. My father is buried in First Hopkinton Cemetery in Ashaway. If you have not been to the Westerly Armory, it is worth a visit. Roberta Mudge Humble, who leads the armory, and other volunteers should be saluted for their efforts in regard to this Westerly landmark.
In regard to World War II, years ago I got a chance to be photographed with Ted “Dutch” Van Kirk, now deceased, who was the last surviving crew member, as well as navigator, of the Enola Gay, which bombed Hiroshima. I realize atomic bombs are a controversial topic. However, I do not fault President Harry Truman for using them there and in Nagasaki. Decades ago, when I was in London in 1984, I saw the royal family on Remembrance Day, when they salute and remember their veterans. I did see the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, King George VI's widow. King George VI, who died in 1952, was the reigning British monarch at the time of the World War II.
Erastus D. Miner, my great-great grandfather, is one of my interesting family veterans. He was on my maternal side. He served in the Union Army in the Civil War, Company G, Eighth Connecticut Volunteers. Discharged on a disability in 1863, he was killed nearly 30 years later in 1892 in North Stonington, having been struck by lightning. Miner is buried in St. Michael’s old Cemetery, behind the Roman Catholic Church in Pawcatuck.
The Westerly-Pawcatuck Veterans Board of Control needs to be saluted for its efforts on behalf of veterans in our two-state area. The board consists of various veteran-related organizations and others that support them. I would like to note Dan Lapointe, who is a driving force in local veterans affairs, leads the local board of control. I also want to note Ken Burton and the volunteers who keep our American Flag on display during different periods throughout the year in the Westerly-Pawcatuck downtown area.
My brother and I are not veterans. But we can take pride in our father's war service.
Scott Bill Hirst