Super Senior: Stan Willis
WESTFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - At the American Legion Post 23 in Orleans, veterans are about to perform a solemn act.
Korean War vet Yves Daigle of Westfield will be buried with full military honors. Rick Blanchard makes sure everything runs smoothly. “We’ll just do our normal service with the color guard -- three people on the firing team,” Blanchard explained.
The veteran of these veterans is Stan Willis. The Brighton native has been on the honor guard since the ‘50s. For him, it’s a call of duty. “Stan’s at every one of them,” Blanchard said.
The trip from Orleans to Westfield takes about 30 minutes to a cemetery just out of the village. The team of seven gets there well before the mourners arrive. Willis is among three on the firing team. Three volleys in tribute to the departed.
Blanchard says it’s an honor to stand shoulder to shoulder with Willis.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Deep respect for the man?
Rick Blanchard: That’s a question that you’ve asked, and I have only one answer: absolutely, absolutely.
Willis lied about his age and joined the Army at 15. “The money was helpful and so was the field jacket when it was cold,” he said. When the captain found out he was booted. “He said ‘I don’t want to see you again.’”
Willis graduated from high school and returned to the military as a Navy Seabee, bulldozing and building in Vietnam. Now 83, he shuns the spotlight. “This is the most public thing I’ve done. So many people that did so much,” Willis said.
Family and friends start to trickle in for the service. Yves Daigle was on the Westfield Selectboard for 52 years and was recently featured as a Super Senior.
Willis’ spirits are high but his health has declined. “He would literally stand there until his knees would shake,” Blanchard said. He now sits during a portion of the service.
Yves Daigle served as a medic in Korea. After a two-year stint, he came back to Westfield, married Hilda, and raised a family.
With closing prayers, the service is over, but Willis carries on. “I think I should. I owe it to them. I figure I owe it to ‘em,” he said.
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