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Peterborough vet talks of those who tended to terrorism victims

A speaker at the American Legion Cheney-Armstrong Post 5 Veterans Day observance spoke of the indomitable spirit of two Wounded Warriors who went to the bedsides of those injured in the Boston Marathon bombing in April.

"April 15, 2013, was a day that changed Boston forever. When two cowardly terrorists detonated bombs at the end of the Boston Marathon," said Richard Loudon of Peterborough, who was a navigator in Air Force during the Vietnam War. "Three innocent people were killed and hundreds wounded. At least 15 victims lost limbs. Enter Marine Capt. Cameron West and retired Marine Sgt. Gabriel Martinez, both were part of Wounded Warriors that visited Boston Medical Center six days after the attack."

Both veterans, who lost limbs in action, shared their upbeat attitudes with the Boston wounded, Loudon said.

"This isn't the end, this is just the beginning," they told the victims.

"While we all should be grateful for the remarkable advances in military medicine and prosthetics, the fighting spirit and inspirational stories about veterans are not due to technology, these traits come from the heart," Loudon said.

Loudon said his father was a B-24 pilot in World War II in the Pacific Campaign.

"He rarely talked about his experiences, but over the years I heard of many near escapes from death during the war," he said.

Loudon grew up in upstate New York. After he graduated from college in 1970, he enlisted in the Air Force, went to officer training in Texas, navigator training in California, and then was assigned as a navigator on a C-31 Jet Cargo Transport.

"The war in Vietnam was already winding down when I completed my training, but I had nearly three years flying a shuttle into Vietnam from 1972 to 1975," he said. "In the beginning it was flying in cargo, young men and young woman, and flying out battle weary soldiers and those lost in combat, which we refer to as HRs: human remains.

"Later I was involved in the release of prisoners of war and finally in the removing of thousands of Vietnamese sympathizers, who were relocated to the Philippine, Guam, and throughout the United States.

"The sacrifices involved and the results of war were made very real to me.

"Even though distant wars today can seem very much removed from our busy lives, we cannot forget our veterans and those currently serving in the military. We are their friends, their families their co-workers their neighbors. It is up to us to ensure that every American, every veteran, feels that his or her service to this country is appreciated by their fellow Americans. There are many tangible ways that we can acknowledge their sacrifice, but the easiest is to simply say, 'Thank-you for what you have down for our country.'"

He told the group gathered at the Memorial Gates on Grove Street to cultivate peace as good citizens, participate in and protect the democratic process, protect the environment and natural resources and respect veterans.

American Legion Cheney-Armstrong Post No. 5 has 188 veteran members from Peterborough and surrounding towns.

Also marching in the parade was the South Meadow School Band and the Monadnock Squadron Sea Cadets. The veterans began Veterans Day with a church service at All Saints Church on Concord Street.

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