President’s Message

Fellow Rotarians:

The City of Haverhill sacrificed 154 of her native sons in WWII.  This is a Memorial Day remembrance for one of those Haverhill boys, lost but never forgotten.

Many people have a Memorial Day story to tell so here is mine. Bobby Durgin was raised in a two family house at 24 Highland Avenue with his mother, his aunt and his younger cousin Natalie. Each had lost their father at a young age in a convergence of bad luck and pre-antibiotics illness. Bob was a good student, a writer and an artist of some talent. By the time he was a senior at Haverhill High School, however, the storm clouds of a second world war were gathering. When he graduated in 1940 he went to city hall, obtained the birth certificate of his older brother James who had died in infancy, and enlisted in the Army. By age 19 he was commissioned as a Lieutenant and one of the youngest pilots in the Army Air Corp.

He was assigned overseas in August 1942 and during his stay in the Mediterranean theater he participated in 51 sorties mostly over Africa, Sicily and Italy as pilot of a B-25 Mitchell Bomber in the 12th Air Force 310th Bombardment Group.

Records show that in March 1943 he piloted a bomber that attacked an Axis convoy at Porto Torres, Sardinia. The plane was credited with direct hits on three enemy vessels and the sinking of an Axis merchant ship. On a later mission, in a sweep over Tunis Harbor, Durgin’s ship was knocked out of formation by flak and ran smack into 12 German Messerschmitts. The big bomber had to become a fighter and managed to hold its own even though the tires of the plane were flattened, the radio and hydraulic system wrecked and the tail assembly shot away.

After Bob's combat duty was complete he returned home and was assigned to Greenville, SC as a flight instructor. He also made several speaking tours throughout the east to help sell War Bonds and he was an advocate for vocational training programs for returning veterans. By late 1944, however, he became restless and put in for a return to his old unit in northern Italy before fate intervened.

On January 12, 1945, Bob was a last minute passenger on a B-25 headed to Morgantown, WV to deliver another pilot home for a bedside visit with his failing father. He accompanied the flight in order to fly the plane back to Greenville. As the pilot dropped the plane toward an icy runway he immediately ran in to trouble and the aircraft went in to a skid, overturned, and burst into flames. Lieutenant Durgin died instantly.

Awards that Lieutenant Durgin received for his service to his country included: nine oak leaf clusters for an air medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross and a presidential unit citation. His mother received the posthumous award of the Purple Heart.

Last week:

Attendance was 33 including three guests: PP Vinny Bonanno, Jenny Arndt and Wes Davis.

Posting:  J. Westerman Davis, Jr. for membership.

Announcements:

Reminder that June 15 will be the meeting when we hold the annual but first inaugural “Ken Smith” Matchbox car race.

And that afternoon starting at 5:30 President Arthur will host Rotary After Hours at his home in West Newbury. Watch this space for further details.

Happy $$$

Ira: Happy for the fabulous retirement gala at the Haverhill Country Club.

Megan: for her trip to her home state of Tennessee

Melissa was happy for Wes Davis’s presence

Allison because she will be absent for the next few weeks: knee replacement!

Michel because he is also so happy to see Wes

Tim: Running for City Council- campaign kick off will be Wednesday 5/31 at the Peddler’s Daughter

Jenny Arndt: celebrated her 30th birthday by jumping out of a plane!

Hy: Happy to see Vinny

Art was excited about hi alma mater’s NCAA Championship run, hoping to add Lax

Speaker: Thomas Grannemann is a Haverhill resident with a strong belief in the importance of public education. He is a senior fellow with Mathematica Policy Research in Cambridge, MA. Tom’s professional work has included teaching graduate courses in public finance, managing Boston regional office operations for Medicare, and contributing to the development of the President’s Budget in the White House Office of Management and Budget. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Northwestern University. Tom gave a most informative data driven analysis of the Haverhill schools.

Raffle: The Ace of Clubs remains hidden in the deck for another day. Jackpot remains in excess of $1000 !!!

---

Officers & Directors

• President Arthur Veasey

• President Elect Stacey Bruzzese

• Past President Michel van Ravestyn

• Treasurer Bill Kleuber

• Assistant Treasurer Greg DiBurro

• Secretary Dick Sundell

• Sargent At Arms Buddy Baker

• Assistant Sergeant at Arms Greg DiBurro

• Membership Chair Michel van Ravestyn

• Foundation Chair Harry Korslund

• Programs/Speaker Chair Stacey Bruzzese

• Greeter Greg DiBurro

• Assistant Greeter

• Director Melissa Cerasuolo

• Director at Large Greg DiBurro

• Director at Large Greg Stark

• Director at Large Jean Poth

---
---