Langevin Recognizes WWII Veteran
Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, visited The Villa at Saint Antoine Assisted Living Community today to recognize the generosity of 90-year-old veteran Felix Pelletier, who, since 2004, has sewn and donated more than 75,000 neck coolers and ditty bags for active-duty military. Langevin presented Pelletier with a copy of a statement of appreciation that the Representative placed into the Congressional Record.
“Felix Pelletier courageously and selflessly served his country during World War II, and still, decades later, his strong soldier’s spirit lives on in his unwavering commitment to our men and women in uniform,” said Congressman Langevin. “Felix is an inspiration to me, to his family, to the Saint Antoine community and to the countless active-duty service members who have been touched by his generosity and patriotism.”
“Felix Pelletier embodies the values and character that have made the Soldiers of our nation unique and stand above the rest,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher Callahan, the Adjutant General and Commanding General of the RI National Guard. “His service and sacrifice to our nation more than 70 years ago, has again been matched by his dedication to our current service members through his efforts to bring a measure of comfort to those who are deployed.”
Pelletier served during the Invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, and has been volunteering his services for Operation Support Our Troops for more than a decade. He sews the neck coolers and ditty bags using an old Singer sewing machine.
“It is a tribute to Felix, an old soldier from World War II who survived D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, to care so much for the young men and women who are in service of that country. He truly epitomizes the Greatest Generation, because he knows what it’s like to be a soldier in hard times and what little kindnesses mean to men and women who are deployed,” said Mary Kay Salamone, executive director of Operation Support Our Troops.
Wendy Fargnoli, Executive Director of the Saint Antoine Community said, “Caring for our veterans is one of the most amazing honors that we have. Their sacrifices have never been forgotten. Felix’s generosity of time and talent, and his gifts offered to active service men and women inspires our staff to think beyond themselves and to sacrifice for others. He is truly remarkable.”
Several members of Pelletier’s family were on hand for the celebration, including grandchildren, his daughter Denise and her husband Al Guertin, and his daughter Sue and her husband Col. Bob Daragan (Ret.), who flew in from South Carolina. Daragan says that, growing up, their dad didn’t talk much about his experiences serving in World War II, but he began to share his stories after revisiting Normandy on the 50th anniversary of the invasion.
“The common thread through every account was the sense of deep camaraderie shared amongst the guys in his outfit and particularly the ‘fellas’ in his antiaircraft gun crew. They had each other’s backs – always,” Sue Daragan said.
She also said that creating the neck coolers and ditty bags has given Pelletier an ongoing sense of purpose.
“The idea that he could do something that would make a difference in the comfort of a young soldier ignited an overwhelming desire to ensure that everyone who needed one would have access to a cooler,” she said. “My Dad, for a brief period of time, lived and breathed a warrior’s life. He experienced unimaginable hardships and got through them with the help of friendships he forged. Now, he figures that today’s young soldiers, oceans and countries away from home, might benefit from the support of an old soldier whose ‘been there’ and walked in their shoes.”