Memorial Day 2015 Celebration

by Jane Ahrens

Memorial Day celebrations kicked off at the Fishers Island American Legion Post 1045 at noon Sunday, May 24 with the firing of the cannon. This is the 30th year the cannon has been fired since it was recovered and restored after serving as one of two that graced the entrance to Fort Wright so many years ago.

American Legion Post 1045 Treasurer and Adjutant Tim Patterson introduced this year’s honorary cannon firer Charlie Ferguson, a WWII Veteran and Fishers Island’s oldest resident. “Charlie was in the Signal Corps in WWII. His job was to place mobile radio transmitters in the hands of islanders throughout strategic islands in the Pacific. By the last years of the conflict, the Japanese could not move a ship without the Allied forces knowing about the movement within 15 minutes. That is what it was all about for Charlie.” Charlie assisted past Legion Post Commander and Korean War Veteran John Ski and his son Jim Ski in the cannon firing.

State Trooper Kevin Drew and color bearers Aaron Rice and Dirk Harris of the Fishers Island Fire Department led the Memorial Day parade. The procession included the rifle squad, Fire District and Fire Department members, EMTs, clergy, the Eastern Long Island Police Pipes and Drums, and State Trooper Tammy Mickoliger. Fire Fighter Penn Sanger was accompanied on Fire Engine 1 by the Fire Department’s longest serving member Dick Baker.

Legion Commander Eric Giles counted cadence as the parade marched to the Town Green. Upon reaching the Green, Giles turned the command of the Rifle Squad over to Korean War Veteran Joe Rogan. Joe gave the commands to the squad, Vietnam Veterans Tim Patterson and George Esser, and Luis Horn, son of WWII Veteran Otis Horn.

Giles welcomed everyone to this year’s Memorial Day observance and thanked all for taking the time to honor our nation’s fallen service men and women. Union Chapel Reverend Candace Whitman gave the opening prayer.

Major Tim Eagleson delivered this year’s Memorial Day message and was introduced by Giles, “MAJ Eagleson is native of Middleton, CT and a Veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. He is a graduate of the United States Army Airborne, Air Assault, Pathfinder, and Ranger schools. He is currently the Executive Officer of the 382d Military Police Battalion in Westover, MA.”

Earlier that morning, a wreath was laid at sea by Sea Stretcher Captains Mike Conroy and Joe Brock in honor of all service members who lost their lives at sea. At the Town Green monument, Major Tim Eagleson assisted Sandy Ahman in laying a wreath in remembrance of all service men and women, and in honor of her grandfather WWII Navy Veteran Gordon Ahman and father Navy Veteran Richard “Ricky” Ahman.

Pastor Karl Eiriksson of The Church on the Rock gave the closing prayer. The remembrance ended with the Eastern Long Island Police Pipes and Drums members playing Amazing Grace followed by Music Teacher and Fire Department member Chris Dollar playing Taps.

American Legion’s 17th Annual Memorial Day Cookout was a huge success!

There are so many people to thank for lending a hand and participating in making the day a memorable one for all. So, in no particular order:

  • Thank you Major Eagleson for joining us on island as the keynote speaker.
  • To Fishers Island Fire Chief Wayne Doucette and the members of the Fishers Island Fire Department for their participation and assistance.
  • To the members of the Eastern Long Island Police Pipes and Drums for making the trip and providing the wonderful music. They include instructor and bagpiper Michael Smith and Maureen Drew who organized the visit.
  • To Ann Banks for putting out American Flags on the graves of our veterans and creating a map to allow this to be an easier task in the future.
  • A special thank you goes to Debbie Doucette for her organizational skills in getting so much to happen at the Legion.
  • Troopers Kevin Drew and Tammy Mickoliger for keeping everyone safe. They did a masterful job of leading the parade to the Green and waving off cars and blocking the side roads as the parade approach the Green.
  • John Ski and his son Jim for getting the cannon ready to fire.
  • Charlie Ferguson for graciously accepting the job of firing the cannon.
  • Tim Patterson, Luis Horn and George Esser for serving as the rifle squad and Joe Rogan for being our fearless drillmaster at the Green, he remembers it all and gets it done.
  • Eric Giles for coordinating the parade and providing the truck and the muscle with Aaron Rice and Tim Patterson to get the fire department grills to the Legion and back to the Firehouse.

And, to the many volunteers at the Legion who set up the picnic, sold tickets, cooked and grilled and served all the food, and other volunteers that made the whole afternoon a success: Deb and John Doucette, Paul Evans, Ace Ahrens, Ken Ahman, Jared Toldo, Gene Litch, Alan Eastman, AJ Jeffries, Py Peringer, Don Brown, Constance Toldo, Will Swenson, Mary Ski, Di Shillo, Jane Ahrens, Dee Ross and Christine Rogan. And, to everyone for pitching in and helping to clean up and put everything back in place.

Please click on any photo to see a larger image or view as a slideshow.

John Ski and Charlie Ferguson fire the Fishers Island American Legion cannon off to begin the Memorial Day 2015 ceremonies and parade. Video by Bronya Shillo

John Ski shared photos of the cannon. In 1985 the cannon was moved to the Legion and all the cement was removed from the barrel so it could be fired again. Those pictured  with the 1985 restoration project at the FI American Legion are: Tom Scroxton, Tom Shillo, Mr. Guy, Jusy Scagliato, Ernie Middleton, Jay Scanlon, Scotty Witt, Frenchy, Steve Morell, Jose, and John Ski. In 2014, as it is every year, the cannon was prepped for the Memorial Day firing by tilting it to remove debris.

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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