It was another typical Friday of working on the city budget when I was informed by our Veterans Services Director Kevin Jarvis that he was with Mr. Dale Van Blair who was visiting the recently designated Albert Neal Spadafora Memorial Square.
I immediately remembered Mr. Blair as Albert’s comrade who not only served with him in WWII but also delivered the engraved bracelet to his finance Mary Lattanzio as instructed by Albert if anything were to happen to him. Sadly, Albert’s plane went down on March 8, 1944 in the North Sea due to anti-aircraft fire and his body was never recovered.
I rearranged the schedule so I could visit with Dale in the Mayor’s Office and thank him for his service and for always remembering one of Malden’s own. Dale brought his scrapbooks which had the infamous receipt for the bracelet as well as pictures from when he was a B-24 tail gunner from 1942 to 1945. His last mission involved him and his crew being ditched in the North Sea where they almost died before being rescued.
As I listened to Dale’s stories of battle and heroism, I couldn’t help but think of how lucky we are to live in a land of freedom and opportunity. He tells his mesmerizing story in a book he wrote, Looking Back: A Tail Gunner’s View of WWII which I ordered on the spot. The book tells of his service in which he almost lost his life on more than one occasion and his relationship with Albert Neal Spadafora who he described as being a brother to him.
What else is there to say except to ask that you please join us on Monday, May 26th at 10 am at the corner of Salem, Ferry, and Main Streets to march to Forest Dale Cemetery in memory of our fallen Patriots. If you are unable to attend, I hope you will take a moment and thank all our Veterans for their sacrifice to our country.