View Full Version : New book a tribute to Maine veterans

05-28-07, 07:04 AM
New book a tribute to Maine veterans
By Roxanne Moore Saucier
Monday, May 28, 2007 - Bangor Daily News

It’s 1967, and Russ Treadwell is maneuvering an A-4 jet through hostile fire in Vietnam to help save fellow Marines on the ground. The pilot was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Turn the page and it’s 30 years later, with Treadwell taking his seat in the Maine Legislature.

Treadwell is one of 89 veterans longtime broadcaster Don Colson wrote about — most of them after interviews — for "Quiet Courage: Stories of the Unselfish Dedication of Maine Veterans," newly published by the Galen Cole Family Foundation in Bangor.

The book goes on sale Memorial Day at the Cole Land Transportation Museum and the next day at bookstores.

In his 21 years in the Marines, Treadwell did security for two chiefs of naval operations, frequently "swapped seats" with pilots during Airborne Intercept School even before he took flight training, and served three years in the Black Sheep Squadron that had become famous in World War II.

He earned "Top Gun" status and went on to teach carrier training to pilots learning to land on and take off from aircraft carriers.

Treadwell told Colson with dry wit, "It looks pretty small when you’re up there at altitude, looking down at it. Matter of fact, it doesn’t get a whole lot bigger when you’re there landing. It’s a memorable experience."

The Carmel man later put his flying talents to work for the state, helping wildlife biologists track caribou, bear and moose for 14 years before running for the Legislature.

"I feel honored that Don chose to write part of my story," Treadwell said. "Galen Cole called me first, then Don called."

Treadwell is used to telling his story to schoolchildren as a volunteer in the Ambassadors for Patriotism program at the museum.

"It’s a good program," he said. "The ones in high school, in particular, seem to get a lot out of it."

"The kids are wonderful," said Hampden resident Del Hainer, a medic who tended injured and dying servicemen during the Korean War. Hainer also has known war from a parent’s point of view, spending several anxious months during 2005 while son Mark did a tour of duty in Iraq.

Not all of the book’s subjects, of course, came home.

Master Sgt. Gary Gordon of Lincoln lost his life and earned the Medal of Honor as a member of the Delta Force in Somalia on Oct. 3, 1993. He was trying to save the lives of fellow servicemen on the ground — and he did.

Charlie Flanagan had been trained as a civil engineer during World War II, but what his country needed was more infantry, and the Bangor man was killed in Germany on Nov. 23, 1944.

Recalled as the "best boyhood friend" of Galen Cole, Flanagan was the model for the soldier in the bronze World War II memorial at the Cole Land Transportation Museum on Perry Road in Bangor.

Gov. John Baldacci and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins wrote forewords for "Quiet Courage," and Collins’ dad, Don Collins of Caribou, is one of the 89 subjects.

Collins’ Army unit saw action, to be sure, including the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded in a battle that injured or killed a third of his company.

Also memorably, the Mainer was but a couple of hundred yards away when Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and the German generals signed a truce to end the war in Europe.

Eddington resident Charles Knowlen, a retired lieutenant colonel, earned a Silver Star running a reconnaissance platoon during his first tour of Vietnam, then flew the CH-47 Chinook helicopter his second tour. After that came three years commanding a mechanized infantry battalion of 700 in Germany.

Being chosen to be in the book, Knowlen said, "I feel pretty proud. I feel pretty fortunate, I guess."

Knowlen, a volunteer at the Cole museum, came up with the title "Quiet Courage" for the book. Its photos are plentiful, both from wartime and the present.

He thought the title described the people from Maine who served but never had all that much to say about their war experience.

"I think that’s quite normal for a pretty large percentage of veterans," Knowlen said. "It was 26 years before I even talked anything about it."

"Vietnam veterans didn’t necessarily feel very good about themselves for a pretty long period of time. Some vets have had a real tough time."

That’s the main reason Knowlen agreed to be the keynote speaker during the Memorial Day program at 1:15 p.m. Monday, May 28, at the museum on Perry Road.

"I’m going to speak to the Vietnam veterans," he said. "I have felt forever, I guess, that Vietnam veterans have felt too much like losers. I’m going to talk about the reasons why Vietnam veterans shouldn’t feel like losers."

Also on Memorial Day, wreaths will be laid at the WWII Memorial, the Purple Heart Monument and the Vietnam Memorial on the museum grounds.

The Old Town High School band will offer a USO-type show, and afterward admission to the museum will be free.

Veterans who were interviewed for "Quiet Courage" may pick up their copy of the book on Memorial Day at the museum. The cost to others is $20.