May 27, 2000

Otis park ceremonies honor deceased veterans

     MASSACHUSETTS MILITARY RESERVATION - David Schultz Jr. was a 7-year-old the last time he visited the Otis Memorial park in 1972 for a dedication in memory of his grandfather.

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Coast Guard Captain Russell Webster addresses relatives of fallen servicemen during ceremonies yesterday rededicating the park, located at Camp Edwards on the Massachusetts Military Reservation.
(Staff photo by STEVE HEASLIP)

Twenty-seven years later, the New Yorker stood to read the name of his grandfather, Air National Guard Lt. Col. Clifford D. Westcott, at a rededication of the park.
      Afterward, he stepped toward his mother, Danielle, and gave her a long hug, 27 years after she lost her father. Westcott, a commander of the Guard's training site, spent more than 20 years at Otis before he died from a stroke.
      Westcott's was one of about 85 names remembered yesterday, men and women of all military services, who died while in service. The Otis Civilian Advisory Council marked their memory with a rededication of the memorial park, located near the Coast Guard housing on the Upper Cape base.
      Among those remembered were the "50 Fallen Stars" of the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing, who died in three separate crashes in the mid-1960s. Forty-five of the flyers killed were stationed at Otis.
      "Each and every one of them are remembered by all of us who are here," said John Loftus, a retired member of the 551st EMS Radar Tech. "We are here to not only renew friendships, but to honor the memory of these brave men."
      The ceremony also marked a new era for the Otis park, which had become dilapidated over the years. The 102nd Fighter Wing and the Coast Guard paid about $7,000 to fix the its central fountain pool, and restore the memorial stones and plaques that surround it, said Sandra Hill, president of the Otis advisory committee.
      To mark the occasion, friends and relatives of deceased service members laid flowers beside memorial stones as their loved ones' names were read.
      Until yesterday, Steve Lavoie of Concord, N.H. had never been to the Cape park where a monument marks the day his brother, Air Force Capt. Alan Lavoie, died in 1983. Capt. Lavoie was on a practice run with the 101st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, when his 106 Interceptor went down about 150 miles off Martha's Vineyard.
      He was 31 years old when he died. Yesterday, his younger brother clung to flowers and fought back tears as he remembered.
      "Time goes by and you tend to forget, and you go on with your lives," he said after the ceremony. "It was a good time to come down. It was a good time to remember."