WILMINGTON, MA – During Monday night’s Board of Selectmen, Wilmington Director of Veterans Services Lou Cimaglia unveiled a POW/MIA Chair of Honor inside Room 9 of Town Hall.
“This is a very simple, but powerful chair,” explained Cimaglia. “It’s a single back chair with the POW/MIA logo on it, flanked by the American flag and POW/MIA flag… It serves as a solemn reminder of the sacrifice of the more than 90,000 US service members since World War I that remain classified as POW/MIA.”
Cimaglia noted these chairs of honor are currently in Gillette Stadium, TD Garden, and Fenway Park, along with hundreds of cities and towns across the state and country. Wilmington recently installed one in the new high school auditorium.
“We, in Wilmington, are waiting along with the family of Ronald Dow Eaton, who was shot down in Korea, to come home,” continued Cimaglia. “This chair is in their honor until they all come home. They won’t be forgotten, especially in our small town…. This chair of honor, that sits empty in the corner of Room 9, is a tribute to those brave men and women.”
The chair was constructed and donated by the students of Shawsheen Tech. The project was spearheaded by shop teacher Rich Woodlock, a Bronze Star Iraq War veteran, and autobody instructor Dennis Reppucci, a lifelong Wilmington resident.
“We’ve been fortunate to have such a good relationship with the Tech for many, many years, not only through the Department of Veterans Services, but the entire Town of Wilmington,” said Cimaglia. “Over the past 13+ years, I’ve called on the Tech many times, and they’ve always come through.”
Cimaglia, as an example, pointed out that Tech students built the podium and base of the ceremonial bell he uses at the town’s Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies.
Cimaglia thanked Woodlock and Reppucci, as well as Shawsheen Tech Superintendent-Director Tim Broadrick and Wilmington’s Shawsheen Tech School Committee members Bob Peterson and Jim Gillis.
Wilmington veteran and resident Robert DiPasquale had approached the Shawsheen Tech several years ago with the suggestion to have its students build a POW/MIA Chair and place it somewhere in the school so students would see it and learn what it symbolized. The project was quickly embraced by the school community.
“This became a passion project for both instructors and students,” explained Broadrick. “They designed several chairs. They built prototypes… We’re grateful we were able to do this with Mr. Cimaglia for the town.”
Broadrick noted it was Wilmington’s Peterson and Gillis, after the dedication of the Tech’s POW/MIA Chair in the building’s lobby, who made the motion to ask the Tech’s teachers and students to build five more chairs and provide one to each of the district’s five communities.
“This is a proud moment for me as an alumni of the school and as a member of this community,” said Selectman Greg Bendel. “This is another example of service that the school does for our community. What better way for these students to remember the sacrifice that some Americans have made than this project?”
Bendel’s colleagues and Town Manager Jeff Hull echoed his sentiments.
“I can’t think of a better way of teaching history and the appreciation of our veterans than through the creation of this chair,” said Hull. “This chair will serve as a living legacy for all of us and future generations. I want to thank the Shawsheen Tech and extend my appreciation and respect to all the veterans here tonight and those from the community that served.”
Cimaglia thanked the American Legion Riders and other veterans for being in attendance in what was a jam-packed Room 9.
Cimaglia unveiled the chair alongside the family of Ronald Dow Eaton and instructors Rich Woodlock and Dennis Reppucci.
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