Haverhill Honors its ‘Hometown Heroes’ Thursday with Speakers, Flyover, Artillery Salute

Retired Brigadier General John J. Driscoll addresses the crowd, while Haverhill Police Chief Robert P. Pistone (obscured) and Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger look on. (WHAV News photograph.)

(Additional photograph below.)

Haverhill honored its “Hometown Heroes” Thursday afternoon, in a ceremony marked by a State Police helicopter flying overhead and an artillery salute, while remembering those killed in action and those who served during all of the nation’s wars.

The third annual tribute ceremony, organized by the Exchange Club of Haverhill, kicks off the period between Memorial Day and Veterans Day when 121 banners recognizing those who served are displayed throughout the city’s central business district.

Retired Brigadier General John J. Driscoll spoke in honor of Haverhill’s heroes, but also took time to reflect on the current fiery political discourse.

“You may think it can never get any worse than it has. My advice is to have faith in America. Never give up on America. As (British Prime Minister) Winston Churchill said, ‘America will always do the right thing after we tried everything else.’ We never get it right the first time, but we’re all striving for that more perfect union. Times may change, but human nature does not.” he said.

Driscoll reminded the crowd that gathered at GAR Park in downtown Haverhill that just down the street is the Pfc. Ralph T. Basiliere Bridge, named for Haverhill’s first Vietnam War casualty. Fittingly, Basiliere’s nephew, who was named in his honor, read the names of those killed in action. Basiliere is a disabled U.S. Marine veteran, chairman of Haverhill’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission, served as interim veterans services officer a year and a half ago and is a member of the Exchange Club.

Going on to read the names of this year’s Hometown Heroes were Haverhill Police Chief Robert P. Pistone, Haverhill Firefighter Timothy Carroll and Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger. Other speakers were Christine Lindberg, chief of staff to Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini, and state Rep. Ryan Hamilton.

Demonstrating the 13 folds of Old Glory were Master Sgt. David Matthews and Specialist Nathan Coates, while master of ceremonies Ron Carpenito described what each fold means before the flag is folded in a triangle.

The National Anthem was performed by Stephanie Carpenito and honor guards included the Haverhill Police and Fire Departments, Essex County Sheriff’s Department and Haverhill High School Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Lawrence Fire Chef Brian Moriarty also attended in honor of his father, U.S. Air Force Specialist Fred Moriarty. The battery salute was conducted by Battery C, First Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment, based out of Danvers and led by Sgt. First Class Andrew Loosigian.

Haverhill’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission Chairman Ralph T. Basiliere reads the names of those killed in action. (WHAV News photograph.)


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