Following the 5 p.m. service Sunday, November 11, parishioners of Saints Rose and Clement Church gathered to honor 98 local veterans and 14 active duty service men and women during an outdoor ceremony. As the small American flags wavered in the wind, each name was read aloud to the toll of the church bells.
In attendance was Naval Quartermaster Third Class Owen Mahoney, 92, accompanied by his wife, Theresa. Mahoney piloted USS LST-56 to Omaha Beach, Normandy on D-Day. Later he piloted the USS Lake Champlain carrier, ferrying 5,000 GIs to Europe, breaking the Queen Mary’s crossing record. Mahoney will once again visit Omaha Beach next summer to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
The Givens Family was honored with the presentation of a patriotic wreath acknowledging seven family members who have served, and are currently serving, in the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Air National Guard.
The event was marked by a color guard of the local Boy Scouts, a gun salute by the Rhode Island National Guard, and a replica of the USS Providence submarine presented by Base Commander Charles Mueller, and Base Chaplain Paul Kelley of the U.S. Submarine Veterans. A National Guard bugler played “Taps” while eyes fell upon a sea of American flags, representing each service member. Lorraine Egan was touched to find her father, Seaman 1st Class George Santantonio’s flag among the others.
The inspiration behind this special event belongs to parishioner Don Cerullo, who sought a way to honor his father and brother who served as major and staff sergeant in the US Army. To witness the tears and hear the silence was to know Cerullo’s idea to remember our heroes will now become an annual parish occasion.