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Column sparks memories for ex-Marine.

Byline: Ed Patenaude

COLUMN: SO I'VE HEARD

Arthur Lemieux of Putnam says our Dec. 20 piece about Dudley native Joseph Leonard, who discovered that a Medal of Honor recipient was unknown in his hometown of Cambridge, N.Y., piqued his curiosity. Mr. Leonard and the hero were both Marine Corps veterans of the Korean War and both with the 1st Marine Division.

To begin, Mr. Lemieux, also a Dudley native, says he attended Dudley Junior High School with Mr. Leonard before he left school to go to work. His parallel is a brother, John Lemieux, now of Beaufort, N.C., who received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for heroism in Korea in 1951. Like Mr. Leonard, now of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and the Medal of Honor winner, Cpl. John Lemieux was with the 1st Marine Division, stationed on Okinawa in 1950, and was with the first wave of Marines to fight in Korea.

Arthur Lemieux traced through the many battles that led to his brother's recognition as a war hero, including quotes from a 56-year-old Marine Corps release and remembered that "Johnny" was only 16 when he enlisted, getting his mother, Suzanne Lemieux, to say he was 17. Cpl. Lemieux's unit moved quickly from the onset in Korea, reaching bitter cold weather in the Chosin Reservoir with only summer gear.

"Then all hell broke loose," to quote Arthur.

China entered the fray to help North Korea, and American forces were all but surrounded. Trying to make their way eastward, the Allies came to a strategic pass that was heavily fortified by the Chinese. John Lemieux's platoon wiped out machine gun nests on the left and right sides to the pass and opened the way for a retreat to the sea, where ships evacuated them, according to Arthur Lemieux. North Korea captured most of South Korea through the early part of that war but the 1st Division Marines John Lemieux served with returned to retake South Korea.

Brother John served 26 years with the Marines, including three subsequent combat tours in Vietnam, says Arthur Lemieux. "I love John, thank him for his military service, and am very proud of what he accomplished," said the Putnam resident. To recap, Mr. Leonard's efforts, initiated after he read a list of 1st Marine Division Medal of Honor recipients in a Division Association publication, culminated in the dedication of a memorial in Cambridge, N.Y, on Memorial Day 1991. Our story stemmed from a meeting in Cambridge last year when Mr. Leonard and his wife, the former Irene Deptula of Webster, met with a woman who attended her high school senior prom with the future Medal of Honor hero, Sgt. Frederick W. Mausert, III, as her escort.

The murder that ended the life of a 30-year-old Worcester woman Jan. 28 at a Railroad Avenue address in Webster wasn't a first in that part of the town. A woman living in a now-gone apartment house at Upper Pearl Street (now Market Street) and Railroad Avenue was shot to death by an ex-boyfriend many years ago. The scene was across the railroad tracks from the recent senselessness. An area man was convicted of murder in the long-ago case. He was sentenced to life in prison and died in custody. Incidentally, the recent murder scene, in a parts place, was once the Dudley Woolen Co., a subsidiary of the former Anglo Fabrics Co. Despite its one-time name, the facility is in Webster.

Opting for a Democratic primary ballot last week, I found the Webster Democratic Town Committee slate different than those of old. It had about 18 names, meaning nearly as many vacancies; 35-member committees were elected to run the Democratic side of town politics for generations. I can remember a rhubarb among party partisans some decades ago when opposing slates, each with 35 candidates, contested for bragging rights: "Democratic Town Committee member." Anyway it was nice to note that Webster's Irene T. Kokocinski was re-elected without opposition as the state committeewoman for the senatorial district represented by state Sen. Richard T. Moore.

George J. Bibeau, the retired First District Court officer, tells us that a memorial honoring Webster veterans killed in action during World War II will be dedicated soon, probably on Memorial Day. The priority now is to locate relatives of those who paid the supreme sacrifice to ensure that invitations are issued and, should any be so inclined, to schedule profiles of Webster's heroes. The memorial will be placed at Memorial Beach, the lake area dedicated to town servicemen after World War II. A hard-working group of town veterans is serving on the arrangements committee, says Mr. Bibeau, a spokesman for veterans through his columns and photography in the weekly Patriot newspaper. George deserves a thumbs-up for his ongoing efforts.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Article Type:Column
Date:Feb 14, 2008
Words:796
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