Orange Volunteer Firefighters Honor Their Own On Memorial Day

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May 292018

Every year, members of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department gather on the town green after the Memorial Day Parade and honor the men who served in the department and have since passed away.

The only thing that was different this year is that the parade was canceled due to rain. But, as we all know the OVFD is on duty 24/7/365 and a little drizzle won’t stop them from carrying out a mission.

A smaller that usual group of firefighters made its way to the firefighter’s memorial at the far end of the green following the Memorial Day Ceremony inside the High Plains Community Center.

Under the command of new Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas, they all stood quietly and listened as Dumas and Deputy Chief Charles Sherwood read the names of the late members.

The men placed a wreath at the memorial stone, then returned to Station 1 on Orange Center Road.

Orange’s Unique Memorial Day Ceremony

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May 282018

(photo by Jeff Cap)

Every year, the Orange Memorial Day Parade Committee works tirelessly for months to provide the town with the best, most interesting honored veterans and a wonderfully entertaining parade.

But after all the preparations, advertising, and anticipation, Sunday, May 27 arrived and the day’s activities were about to start, and so did the rain. Just a light drizzle really, but enough to prompt organizers to cancel the parade and, for the second time in nearly 35 years, move the ceremony indoors.

Even though the three honored veterans, all in their 90s, did not get to ride down the parade route to the reviewing stand, they still received meaningful recognition, respect, and appreciation from the sizeable crowd that gathered inside the High Plains Community Center Gym.

Grand Marshal – Albert Rapini (98 years old) – U.S. Army 1942 – 1945 – Rank of Tech Sergeant.

Albert Rapini, this year’s 2018 Grand Marshall, was born in New Haven on November 15, 1919. After he was honorably discharged in 1945, he married Anne Martone, and the two have been married for 73 years. They have resided in Orange since 1964, where they raised four children. He worked for Southern Ct. Gas, as a service technician for 35 years.
Al was a Little League or Babe Ruth coach for years.




Honorary Chief of Staff – Frank Tagliatela (96 years old) – U.S. Army 1942 – 1946 – Rank of Private First Class.

Chief of Staff Frank Tagliatela served in the United States Army from December 26, 1942, to February 26, 1946. He served in the U.S First Army in Europe as a member of a 40-millimeter gun crew attached to the 639th Anti-aircraft Artillery Battalion. Frank served in combat operations in the Ardennes, otherwise known as the Battle of the Bulge, the Rhineland and Central Europe.
Frank often jokes that there has never been a winter as cold as the winter of Battle of the Bulge.



Honored Veteran – Robert Swirsky (98 years old)  – U.S. Army 1943-1945 – rank of Tech Sergeant.

Robert Swirsky was 23 when he landed at Omaha Beach in France, just after D-Day, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, was among those who discovered the concentration camp at Nordhausen and freed numerous towns across Europe from the Nazis.

He was joined by Hedwige Kuepper of Milford, 87, who, as a teenager, saw Swirsky and his U.S. Army unit pass through her town of Seaus, outside of Paris, during the liberation of France during World War II, read their amazing story HERE.


The Keynote Speaker is Orange Town Clerk Patrick B. O’Sullivan, III: Veteran’s Affairs Liaison, former State Representative and former member of the Board of Selectmen.








Even without the parade, Memorial Day 2018 may have been the most meaningful celebration in decades.

Residents attended the ceremony and were able to concentrate on what was truly important: honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy the freedom we have here in the United States each and every day.

Thank you to all the veterans for your service, and thank you to those who lost their lives fighting for freedom.

I’d also like to acknowledge the hard work of the Memorial Day Committee, including Kevin Gilbert, Karen Goldberg, and Moderator Robert Mirto, in making this a truly memorable day for the three honored veterans and their families. Thank you for keeping the focus on the true meaning of the holiday. And the scouts in Jeff Cap’s troop for being respectful throughout the ceremony.


Committee Seeks Local Veterans To Honor At Memorial Day Ceremony And Parade

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Mar 242018

Orange residents, do you know a veteran, male or female, especially one who served in Korea or WWII. If so, the Orange Memorial Day Committee wants to know about him or her.

Every year, the committee carefully chooses veterans to honor during the Memorial Day ceremony on the Orange Fairgrounds before the parade. These veterans fill the roles of Grand Marshal, Chief of Staff and Honored Veteran in the Memorial Day Parade.

Committee Chairman Kevin Gilbert said they are looking for veterans, who are Orange residents who were honorably discharged, particularly women who often are overlooked. He said many WWII veterans don’t talk about the war, so some people may not even know that they served.

As the holiday draws closer, there is a lot of planning and preparation that needs to be done, but nothing is as important as choosing the candidates they will recognize this year. “We hope to make a decision by the second week of April, so we need help getting names submitted for consideration as soon as possible,” Gilbert said.

If you have someone in mind, or if you are a veteran who would like to be considered please call Kevin Gilbert at 203-795-4647 or e-mail kpg25629@gmail.com or contact Karen Goldberg at 203-891-4738 or kgoldberg@orange-ct.gov.

(Photos) Orange Memorial Day Ceremony

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May 292017

The town of Orange honored the brave men and women who’ve fought for our freedoms and have passed away.

Sunday was the Orange Memorial Day Ceremony, Parade, and Service. Large crowds attended each of them.

First, at the Orange Fairgrounds, the Memorial Day Ceremony with each of the honored guest speakers making brief, yet meaningful comments.

Robert Mirto was the moderator.

Grand Marshal – Robert H. DeFeo –  U.S. Air Force Active 1956-1959 – Reserve from 1956 – 1965 – rank of Captain.

Chief of Staff – Peter Shery –  U.S. Army 1953-1955 – Korean War Veteran. Citations received – Korean Service Medal, The U.N. Service Medal, and The National Defense Medal.

Honored Veteran – Donald J. Jewell, posthumously –  U.S. Coast Guard 1942-1946; World War 11 Veteran.  Past Commander of the American Legion Orange Post #127 and a life member.  His favorite quote was “I don’t always have my way but I always have my say!”

Jewell was one of Orange’s favorite sons. He died on February 16 at the age of 93.

His daughter Cynthia Romanoff accepted a plaque in his honor and presented it to her mother, Mary.

Keynote Speaker – Paul M. Tarbox    A Veteran of 10 years with the Connecticut Army National Guard.  He volunteered for deployment to Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraqi 2004-2005 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom II with the 118th Area Support Medical Battalion. 

Tarbox’s speech was well thought out, contemporary and very well received.

First Selectman Jim Zeoli and US Senator Richard Blumenthal also spoke. Three Orange students gave special Memorial Day readings (one an original poem).

You may soon find the video of the ceremony on OGAT on DEMAND. (Click the link in the Left Column of Orange Live)