Parade, ceremony planned for opening of new Granby home for Marine veteran injured in Afghanistan
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GRANBY — Organizers expect a crowd of more than 300 at a parade and ceremony today to celebrate the completion of a new home for wounded Marine Sgt. Joshua Bouchard.
The parade steps off at Granby High School at 10:30 a.m. with bagpipe bands, Boy Scout troops and police and fire escort. It will wind up at Bouchard’s new three-bedroom house at 48 Chicopee St., which was built by Taunton-based Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit that raises funds and recruits volunteers to construct specially equipped houses at no cost for severely wounded veterans.
Bouchard, who grew up in Amherst, lost a leg and suffered a crushed spine when a bomb exploded beneath his Humvee in Afghanistan in 2009. It was his second tour of duty in that country.
Since being released from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., he has been living in Granby with his father, James, a fellow Marine and Vietnam War veteran who was wounded nearly 40 years to the day his son was injured in Afghanistan.
In a telephone interview from Walter Reed last year, after learning his application to Homes for Our Troops had been accepted, Joshua Bouchard said he was “ecstatic.
“It takes so much off of my mind knowing that I have a place to go,” he said.
On Friday, James Bouchard also expressed excitement about his son’s new home. “It’s just going to be so wonderful for him,” he said. “The corridors in this house are not too wheelchair accessible.”
Joshua Bouchard’s new 3,000 square-foot home features push-button doors, extra wide doorways, roll-under sinks and no stairs or thresholds, said Doreen Lewis, senior community outreach coordinator for Homes for Our Troops.
Built with help from the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Western Massachusetts and A. Crane Construction, the house is the 124th that Homes for Our Troops has constructed since its founding in 2007 — the second in the Pioneer Valley. Last year the group completed a home in Worthington for Iraq veteran Sgt. Peter John Rooney III.
Following today’s parade in Granby, a key ceremony will be held at 11 a.m., when community volunteers will greet Sgt. Bouchard and present him with a key to his house, Lewis said.
Speakers include Major Kevin Conant of Westover Air Base Reserve and a Color Guard of the Westfield Marine Corps League, who will give the keynote address, and Col. Allen Laughlin of the Marine Wounded Warriors Regiment. State Rep. John Scibak (D-South Hadley) is also expected to attend.
Following the ceremony, local Boy Scout troops will host a flag raising and participants will be invited on a tour of Sgt. Bouchard’s new home, Lewis said.
Those attending are asked not to park on Chicopee Street. Parking will be available at the MacDuffie School at 66 School Street in Granby, with free shuttle bus service from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to and from the ceremony.
Staff Writer Chad Cain contributed to this report.