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Vassalboro Historical Society
Welcome New Members who have joined since January 1, 2015:
Arlene Seamans Walker
Vassalboro Historical Society
327 Main Street
PO Box 43
East Vassalboro, ME 04935
Edward G. Poulin
One of our Hometown Heroes
Memorial Day From The Heart
By Russell Poulin
Memorial Day holds a new meaning for me this year. We honor and thank those people who gave of themselves for the love of their country, and for me personally, I would like to honor a person who influenced my life in so many ways. This person provided for his family while serving this great country of ours. His love for sports was infectious and great memories I have of him are of the times we spent together as he taught me the rules of baseball and football…whether high school, collegiate or professional. His passion for his family, the military, the communities he served, his art and Maine was contagious. He taught me how to play chess and how to fix things around the house; he was hard on me when he needed to be yet always tried to mold me into a great person. I owe a great deal to this man….my father.
I was the last child of four to be born. Being the youngest has a lot of advantages and disadvantages. Parents by then mellow out and apparently “get it right” when it comes to raising children. But the problem is, I was too young to know all of the details of my father. Where did he go after joining the Marines? Did he fight in any wars? What ever happened to his dad? Why did we move so many times? Since becoming an adult, many of these questions have been answered but only in general terms. My father spoke of his own father often so I knew he had died from wounds inflicted during the invasion of Normandy, France, in 1944. We moved often because of my father’s status in the military. I knew he fought in Vietnam and the Korean War. Only upon my father’s passing, however, have I learned more.
My father, Retired Major Edward G. Poulin, who was born in North Vassalboro, November 11th, 1935, died in his home this past March at the age of 76. How fitting for him to be born on Armistice Day, now known as Veteran’s Day. It is at the Veteran’s Cemetery in Augusta where he is now buried.
It is bittersweet to find out what a truly loyal soldier my father was after he passed…during his life he was my father and that was enough for me. Recently, my mother, Jeannette, had asked me to help clean up Dad’s things and in the process I have uncovered binders and boxes of memorabilia and information he kept of his accomplishments…I have found news articles, pictures, plaques and original letters of orders and praise given to him by high ranking military officials and community leaders he served with.
I understand so much more now. My father enlisted in the Marine Corps as a Private First Class in June of 1953. After machine gunner training, he was assigned to the 11th Marines in Korea and fought at the tail end of the Korean War. Shortly after, he was transferred to Japan where he attended radio school. Advancing through the ranks to E-7 in 1966, he served in the infantry, artillery, communications, engineers, guided missiles, anti-aircraft, and Marine aviation units. He was then assigned to the 1st Battalion, 14th Marines, where
he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant. On July 5th, 1967 he was transferred to Vietnam and commanded an engineer company in Da Nang until July 14th 1968.
I am proud to know that my father was considered a “Mustang”…a commissioned officer who was once an enlisted man. Under his command he helped build 30 wells, a clinic, several schools and road drainage systems, just to name a few. The clinic was later used as a model for erecting future clinics by the military. Upon returning to the United States, he was promoted to captain and received a permanent commission in the Marine Corps Reserve. In 1973, he reported to NAS Brunswick, Maine, as an executive officer of marine barracks and was promoted to Major on July 7th, 1976.
His awards are many: he received the Navy Achievement Medal for his professional accomplishments while serving in Brunswick in recognition of his exceptional knowledge, resourcefulness, and managerial abilities. It cited his work in developing, coordinating, and following through of the successful completion of morale, welfare and barrack improvement projects that greatly enhanced the living environment for the Marines unit. He initiated the Barracks Flag Pageant, which had been instrumental in developing a favorable awareness of the Marine Corps in the New England area. The pageant was presented to over 45 cities and towns and to over 150,000 people.
He was the recipient of the Korean Service Medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Vietnamese Campaign Medal and Vietnamese service medal with 4 stars, the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V” for Valor, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Good Conduct Medal with 3 stars, the National Defense Service Medal with 1 star, the United Nations Service Medal, two Purple Hearts, and a Bronze Star for bravery.
Wow, my dad was a hero and he didn’t know it….in reflection, that was the kind of man he was.
All in all, he served 23 years in the U. S. Marine Corps and retired in August of 1976.
He had graduated magna cum laude from New Hampshire College the month before with a B.S. in Business Administration while station in Brunswick. Later, he received the retired rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was a member of Bourque-Lanigan American Legion Post 5 in Waterville, Maine and a member of the McCrillis-Rousseau Post 8835 VFW in Winslow, Maine.
In April of 1977, he assumed the duties of associate director of the United Way of Mid-Maine in Waterville and by July of 1978 he became President of the United Ways of Maine which included 12 communities. He received the “Gold Award” from the United Way for outstanding service to the people of the Waterville community. From 1980 – 1984, he was the Executive Director of the Waterville Area Chamber of Commerce and introduced international musical performances by “Up with People” and the Modified Softball Tournament events to the Waterville area.
Upon retirement in 1984, my father slowed down a bit. He converted his basement and a back porch into an art studio and painted landscapes fulltime using oil and acrylics. He was the owner and operator of “E & J Gallery” and sold many of his paintings. Other hobbies included building model planes and collecting model cars. He particularly enjoyed spending more time with his wife, children and grandchildren.
Although my father had numerous health issues, he bravely pressed on with the support of his family, in an effort to enjoy life and the love he had for my mother who cared for him. I think about how much I would have liked to have known more about his accomplishments while he was alive but he rarely talked about it. Little did we know how much he suffered. His passing was still a shock and a surprise, but in the end, his sacrifice for our country was truly an honorable one; having died from complications due to exposure to Agent Orange.
In honor of Memorial Day and of my Dad, I would like to thank all of the people who served in our armed forces and sacrificed for the love of country and for the love of their families with the intension of making this world a better place to live. THANK YOU!
Check out Edward G Poulin's impressive list of medals under our Military section.
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