BENNINGTON -- Since 1993, the "Boys of Bennington," a group of Air Force, Navy, and Marine veterans with ties to the U.S.S. Bennington, have visited Bennington annually for Battle Day weekend.
This year, the group served lunch to veterans on Friday afternoon at the Vermont Veterans' Home, held a memorial service for vets on the lawn of the Town Offices Saturday, and participated in Sunday's Battle Day parade.
During Saturday's service, the U.S.S. Bennington's bell, which the Navy loaned to the town of Bennington in 1995, was rung seven times after names of deceased veterans were read off in order of squadron. A flag was later raised at the VFW post in further remembrance of those who had passed while serving their country.
Joseph Pires, ship historian for the U.S.S. Bennington, explained that the "boys" have dispersed throughout the country over the years but nonetheless make an effort to reunite in Bennington whenever possible.
According to Pires, the group is happy to return each year and show their appreciation to Bennington vets for their service.
"It's just a way for us to say thank you," Pires said of the group's volunteerism and memorial services. "We know how important it is to recognize our vets and their military service."
Town Manager Stuart Hurd noted that over the years, the group has made a significant impact within the Bennington community.
"They've really tied themselves to Bennington," he said. "We love it."
Over the years, Pires said the group has made donations to the town and started a scholarship fund for MAU high school seniors.
This September, a mass reunion will take place aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.
To learn more about the "Boys of Bennington" or the U.S.S. Bennington, visit www.uss-bennington.org.
Contact Elizabeth Conkey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.