Military Tank for Leominster Park Unveiled

Military tank for Leominster park unveiled

By Nick Mallard, [email protected]

LEOMINSTER — Both in stature and in what it stands for, the tank at Johnny Ro Veterans Memorial Park is quite a sight.

And the combat-tested vehicle isn’t afraid to let the world know it.

With “I’m kind of a big deal” lettered on the cannon, the tank was unveiled to the hundreds on hand Sunday afternoon, showing major progress in the building of the memorial park named after one of the city’s fallen soldiers.

John Roberge and his wife Colleen Roberge, right, look as the tank is unveiled in their son’s honor at the Johnny Ro Veterans Memorial Park on Sunday in Leominster.

The saying is one used by the late Army Pfc. Jonathan Roberge, who was killed by an explosion while driving on patrol in Iraq in 2009. His father, John Roberge, explained that while his 22-year-old son wasn’t the highest ranking person in the military, he would joke that he was “kind of a big deal” since he was the driver for his group.

“But this isn’t just for Jonathan,” his father said at the unveiling. “It’s for all the soldiers from Massachusetts who have taken part in (the Iraq and Afghanistan wars). The goal is to never forget these men and women.”

The 60-ton tank came to the city from Bladenboro, N.C., donated by the Army National Guard. Workers at Steel-Fab in Leominster worked on the tank, stripping it down and painting it before it was placed as the centerpiece at the park.

“The greatest gift we can give is to be here today and not forget,” Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella said. “It’s a beautiful spot for something like this. We’ll continue to support the (Roberge) family as a city.”

John Roberge asked for all veterans from any conflict to gather for a photograph.

The tanks stands as the centerpiece of the Mechanic Street park, with the names of the four soldiers killed on Feb. 9, 2009 in Mosul, Iraq. In addition to Jonathan Roberge, Sgt. Joshua Ward, Lt. Col. Garnet Derby and Spec. Albert Jex all have their names displayed in the side of the tank.

Brigadier General Thomas J. Sellars, the former Commander of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, commended the city of Leominster for showing such dedication to its veterans.

“What you see here is a community coming together to honor the dedication and service to one of its sons,” Sellars said. “That what the best part of America is; communities coming together.”

John Roberge echoed the sentiment, adding that he looked forward to the finished park while taking time to thank all involved with it up to this point.

“This a community project,” the elder Roberge said. “Without everyone’s help, this wouldn’t happen. After 27 months, it’s moving forward and it is a big deal.”

* Story by Nick Mallard, photographs by Steve Sheridan and Scott Laprade  *

jonathan

Army Pfc. Jonathan R. Roberge

 

 

 

R.I.P. Jonathan.  We will never forget you.

 

 

Ice, Ice Rocky! v. 2014

The 2014 Dunk! Ice, Ice Rocky!

Rockwell “Rocky” Pond has taken his post on the pond once again this winter. As legend has it, the pond was named after him many years ago.

Ralph Sacramone and Dick Roberge are pictured hanging out with Rocky on Rockwell Pond recently

Ralph Sacramone and Dick Roberge are pictured hanging out with Rocky on Rockwell Pond recently

Ralph Sacramone and Bob Bray assigned Rocky to his post at 2:05 p.m. on Jan. 9, where he is scheduled to remain until he falls through the ice. When that happens the Leominster Emergency Management Volunteers will rescue him and Spring will not be too far away.

This contest is a 50/50 fundraiser to support veteran’s organization programs, which benefit local veterans and their families ~ including scholarship to local students; Boy Scout projects; Boy’s and Girl’s State; the distribution of Christmas meals to home bound veterans and their families; Ginny’s Thrift Shop veterans; Canines for Combat Veterans; Veterans Homestead; Veterans Training and Rehabilitation Center; and more.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, please visit www.letvets.org or stop by the Leominster Veterans Center, 100 West St.

Ice Out Contest Rules for 2014 <—- clicky

ICE OUT Contest Tickets for 2014 <—- clicky  (print your tickets here)

Entry deadline is 3 p.m. Saturday, March 2, or prior to Rocky falling though the ice.

This annual event is sponsored by the Leominster Veterans Memorial Center (LVMC) Inc., a nonprofit organization made up of the Amvets, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The Legend Of Private Rockwell “Rocky” Pond

Private Rockwell “Rocky”  Pond hails from Leominster Ma.

Where he lived on the third floor of 98 West Street, which is now the Leominster Senior Center parking lot. Rocky attended Saxon Trade School and specialized in metal works. Like many lads his age he only made it to the middle of his senior year when he volunteered for service during the Korean War. While in Korea he fought in many battles to include the Chosen Reservoir. Private “Rocky” once spent three long winter months on the ice at Chosen Reservoir fighting the enemy and fighting the bitter cold. During his third month, as spring neared, the ice began to thaw and Private Rockwell Pond fell thru the ice but was saved by his fellow soldiers.

After the war Rocky returned home to Leominster and found employment at Leominster Ice Company where he worked for many years. Rocky’s favorite past time has always been fishing including ice fishing. It was the middle of March 1954 while he was ice fishing on the pond off of West Street and a group of kids were skating near by, when one of them fell thru the ice. Without any hesitation Rocky raced over to where the youngster went down, searched under the ice till he found him and pulled him to safety.

As a result of his heroic action the City of Leominster renamed the pond off of West Street to “Rockwell Pond” in his honor.

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