WILMINGTON, MA — The Town of Wilmington is asking residents at this year’s Annual Town Meeting to name the corner of Federal Street and Liberty Street in memory and honor of the late Edward J. Gillis.
Gillis, a lifelong resident who passed away in 2019 at the age of 93, left Wilmington High School early to join the U.S. Navy in 1943 during World War II. He proudly served in the SeaBees, and was injured at the Battle of Iwo Jima, suffering shrapnel wounds to both his legs and arms. After being honorably discharged, Gillis re-enlisted and served through the remainder of the war.
For his heroism, Gillis received the Purple Heart, World War II Victory Medal, America Area Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign Medal with 1 Bronze Star and the Good Conduct Medal. He would also, by the way, eventually receive his high school diploma from WHS in 2007 at the age of 81.
At the request of his family, the town is looking to install a memorial sign at the corner of Federal St. and Liberty St., where Gillis grew up. Town Meeting voters will have to formally approve the request at the May 1, 2021 Town Meeting.
“Ed’s life is an incredible story. It’s because of people like Ed Gillis that we can live in a great town like Wilmington and a great country like the United States,” said Selectman Greg Bendel, who brought the article (Article #42) forth to include in the Town Meeting Warrant. “This would be a fitting tribute and a great way to honor another brave veteran.”
Wilmington Town Meeting voters supported a similar article back in 2016 to honor another U.S. Navy Seabee who fought in World War II — William Harrison, who now has a memorial at the corner of Church Street and Adams Street.
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