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May 23, 2014     Post-Gazette
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May 23, 2014

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Page 8 POST-GAZETTE, MAY 23, 2014 SANTA MARIA DiANZANO June 1 Procession Only - Hanover- Prince Sts. 2 pm ST. ANTHONY'S of PADUA June 8 Procession Only - Hanover - Prince Sts. 2 pm PADRE PIO PROCESSION June 22 Procession Only - Hanover- Prince Sts. I pm MADONNA DEL GRAZIE Procession Only - Hanover- Prince Sts. ST. ROCCO Procession Only - Hanover- Prince Sts. July 13 2 pm July 20 I pm ST. AGRIPPINA Hanover & Battery Sts. Sunday Procession MADONNA DELLA CAVA Hanover & Battery Sts. Sunday Procession MADONNA del SOCCORSO North, Fleet & Lewis Sts. (Fisherman's) Sunday Procession August 1,2, 3 1 pm August 8, 9, 10 1 pm .August 14, 15, 16, 17 1 pm ST. ANTHONY August 29, 30, 31 Endicott & Thacher Sts. Sunday Procession 12 pm ST. LUCY September 1 Monday Procession - Endicott St. 5 pm SEPTEMBER ST. ROSALIE September 7 Procession Only - North Square I pm ST. JOSEPH'S FEAST Prado - Hanover St Sunday Procession October 3, 4, 5 I pm Malden, MA SAINT ROCCO FESTIVAL Pearl Street Sunday Procession Lawrence, MA FEAST OF THE THREE SAINTS Saints Alfio, Filadelfo and Cirino Common & Union SL, Lawrence Sunday Procession 3 pm Cambridge Festival SS COSMAS AND DAMIAN September 6, 7 Warren and Cambridge SL, Cambridge August 8, 9, 10 I pm August 29, 30, 31 LUCIA RISTORANTE & BAR Traditional Italian Cuisine 415 Hanover Street, Boston 617.367.2353 11 MountVernon Street, Winchester 781.729.0515 Privat+ Function ooms fop antj Occasion Ck,ist+nin 9 B,id00l Skow00. BoLy Sl, ow+, Bi,thciaq B+P++v+m+.t, l=k. Donato Fraltaroli donato @ Fulfilling a. Mother's Wish Remembering Our Veterans on Memorial Day by Ray Barron Ray Barron at Richard F. Aylward's grave in Soisson, France, October 1945. World War II ended m Europe on Thursday, May 8, 1945 and we looked forward to returning to our homes. For many parents whose sons were killed in action, they had nothing to look forward to ... no one to wel- come home. Some parents wrote to their son's buddies asking them to visit their son's grave. I was one of the GI's who received such a request. "Before you come home I wish you would visit my son's grave and say a prayer for me." My journey to her son's grave, Richard Aylward, began in October of 1945, a month before I was due to head back home. I had been in Europe for close to 19 months and had participated in four battles beginning with Normandy. I was in Munich, Germany when I received her letter that included the name of the cemetery located in Soisson, France. I immediately made plans to head for Soisson with a camera I had borrowed from one of my buddies. To reach my destination, I had to take a train to Paris to seek the help of the American Red Cross to help me get to Soisson. Arriving in Paris and tired from the long train ride, I immediately went to the Red Cross headquarters for assistance on how to get to Soisson. I was informed they did not provide transpor- tat_ion, but I could take a bus to Soisson. Tired and weary, I went to a small bus ter- minal and not knowing French, I relied on a piece of paper with the name of the town and cemetery. I showed the piece of paper to a woman, who pointed out where the bus would leave from. In short, it was a dilapidated bus occupied by civilians. There I was, the only GI on the bus, seated next to a woman holding a baby in her arms. It was a slow, bumpy ride to Soisson and when we arrived close to Soisson, one of the bus tires blew out and we landed in a ditch on the side of the road. We piled off the bus and I volunteered to carry the woman's baby. Slowly, we walked to Soisson, about a mile or so away. Entering the town, I noticed some French soldiers and I showed them the slip of paper. I followed them to a small house where two young French officers were seated at a table. One of the French officers got up from the table and motioned me to follow him outside to a Jeep. Off we went! It was close to noon and the skies were clouding up. It was a short drive to the American cemetery and what I immediately noticed was an American flag in the center of the rows of white crosses and Stai)f David. I looked around the cemetery, thinking I would find a GI there, a caretaker. I discovered I was the only GI there! Along with the French officer, I began to walk between the white wooden crosses, searching for my buddy's grave. At last, I found a dog-tag nailed ori the white cross and his name, Richard F. Aylward. I stood in front of his grave and said, "Buddy, I'm here. Your mother sends her love." Standing behind me was the French officer, who was holding my camera. I asked him to take pictures of the grave and a few with me by the side of the grave. I was the only living American in the cemetery on that damp, drizzly late morning and I was getting mad as hell! Suddenly, I began to throw a fit -- a fit of anger! I began shouting, "I made it! You stupid bastards! I made it!" I cried, out of control. Yes, I was cursing them all for dying. As I rambled on, the French officer wrapped his arms around me and began to move me away from the grave. Perhaps he sensed I was tempted to knock down all of the white crosses. As we walked away, I paused; turned around and began to shout, "See you later guys!" My eyes filled with tears, I cried unashamedly. The young French officer brought me back to the small house in the village, poured me a glass of cognac and urged me to drink it. Talking with another officer, it was decided I should be driven back to Paris. Returning to Paris, I checked-in at a hotel reserved for GI's and after taking a hot bath, I crawled into bed and immediately fell asleep. Back in Munich, I had the roll of film developed and mailed the photos to Aylward's mother. Weeks passed and then a letter arrived from her thank- ing me for visiting her beloved son's grave and urging me to visit her and her family when I returned home. Returning home, I went to visit the Aylwards and tears began to flow. I was con- tinuously hugged and kissed by the family. I did recount how I found my way to Soisson and how I misplaced the name and address of the French officer who drove me to the cemetery. Through the years, I have been tempted to send some copies of the photo he took of me by the grave to French newspapers, hoping he would see the photo and contact me. Richard F. Aylward, who was 21 years old, was killed in action on December 2, 1944. Yes, he was my buddy. As I sit here writing, I see myself walking slowly between the rows of white crosses and begin to won- der how I managed to survive the war. Well, rest in peace dear brothers. You are not forgotten. Staff Sergeant Richard F. Aylward lies in peace among 5,255 of our mili- tary dead at the Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial, situated on a plateau in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains in Vosges, France. On the morning of May 12, 1958, the permanent American Cemetery was established. Plot B, Row 5, Grave 13 is where Richard F. Aylward now lies in peace. Hail and farewell, dear brother. Richard F. Aylward was a native of Orient Heights, East Boston.