Islanders commemorate Veterans Day

The holiday brought three old shipmates together on Martha’s Vineyard for the first time in almost 50 years.

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Peter Herrmann, left, bows his head as Wing Chaplain Lieut. Col. David Berube leads a prayer at Veterans Day ceremonies held Wednesday at the VFW Post in Oak Bluffs. — Photo by Sam Moore

Driven indoors by the blustering wind and rain, Martha’s Vineyard veterans, with assistance from scouts and family members, commemorated Veterans Day in Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9261 in Oak Bluffs Wednesday.

Peter Herrmann (Navy IC3) presided over the brief ceremonies, which included the singing of the national anthem by high schooler Emily Hewson and a prayer from Navy Chaplain Lieut. Col. David Berube. A color guard from Coast Guard Station Menemsha stood at attention, adding to the sense of solemnity.

It was only the second time in Mr. Herrmann’s long memory of Veterans Day on the Vineyard that weather caused the cancellation of the parade. Nevertheless, the gathering at the VFW was a special moment of reunion for Mr. Herrmann. Two of his shipmates from the USS Kitty Hawk, George Blakeney (ICFN) of New York and Jim Woodside (IC3) of New Jersey, visited the Island for the first time. The three former shipmates hadn’t seen one another since serving aboard the supercarrier from 1965 to 1967. Mr. Herrmann was moved to tears at the podium as he described their long-overdue meeting.

The ceremony closed with Ms. Hewson’s rendition of “Amazing Grace,” then it was on to the buffet and laughter. Veterans and active-duty service members shared lunch with family members and Boy Scouts, chatting over chips and sandwiches.

Three old friends, Island veterans Herbert L. Foster (Army C5), Conrad Kurth (Army specialist 4th class), and Jay Schofield (Marine Reserves PFC), sat around chuckling over cans of Sprite. Last year Mr. Foster and Mr. Schofield, along with Tom Dresser, who also sat with them, published “Martha’s Vineyard in World War II,” a chronicle of the Island’s experience of that time.

For the past five years the town of Oak Bluffs has been recognized by the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs for its celebration of Veterans Day, the only town in Massachusetts to hold such recognition, and one of only about 55 nationally, according to Mr. Herrmann. He credits the efforts of Jo Ann Murphy, the Dukes County Veterans Agent, for achieving this honor.