By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Veterans who are residents of the Belknap County Nursing Home were presented with certificates of appreciation for their service to the country in a ceremony held Tuesday afternoon at the home.
Among those honored was 96-year-old Emile Ricard, who served with the 79th Infantry Division, in France and Germany and was on the front lines as Allied troops battled their way into Germany in March of 1945.
"We came under fire a lot and there were a lot of close calls for me," said Ricard, who recalls slogging along with his M-1 rifle through numerous firefights in the final phases of the war. He recalls the feeling of elation he experienced when Germany surrendered in May of 1945.
"I was very glad it was over," said Ricard, who said that the German people that he came into contact with were respectful and treated him well.
He grew up in Belmont and entered the Army in 1943, just after marrying his wife, Irene. After the war he returned home and made his home in Laconia, where he spent 17 years working at the Lund Ski factory.
"It was a good place to work and there were some really skilled people there. When they closed it down they moved the operations to the South but it didn't last long for them down there," says Ricard.
He and his wife, Irene, were noted ballroom dancers and lived for years on Cedar Street, right next to Tardif Park. They had been married for 66 years when she died in 2008 at the age of 98.
The certificate ceremony took place in a front of a wall display honoring veterans which was recently put in place near the entryway to the home through the efforts of Brenda Twardosky, recreation director at the county home. The certificates were presented by volunteers from the Central New Hampshire VNA and Hospice as part of the "We Honor Veterans" program, a collaboration of the Veterans Administration and Hospice.
Acting Nursing Home Director Director Bob Hemenway praised Twardosky for putting together The Veterans Wall project, which contains photos and memorabilia from veterans currently living at the nursing home.
Retired U.S. Army Col. Peter Cassell and other volunteers from the "We Honor Veterans" program, including John Waker and Dave Shea, presented certificates to the veterans.
Cassell said it is important to honor veterans and insure that their needs are being met. He said that 680,000 veterans die each year, nearly 1,800 a day and that he and other volunteers are dedicated to making sure that their sacrifices are remembered.
Others honored in addition to Ricard were Dana Aloise, who served in Army and tried to enlist in the National Guard when he was only 14, only to have his true age discovered, and later served in Alaska during the Korean War; David Burbank, an Air Force veteran; Fred Clavitte, Ronald Fitzgerald, Edward Gagne, John Haven, Francis Isabelle, Norman Rollins, all of whom served in the Army; John Neylon who served who served with the Marines and Robert Goodwin and Clifford Ireland, who served in the Navy.
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