VFW Post 8006 in Florence celebrates 75 years of service

  • As the VFW Post 8006 celebrates its 75th anniversary, a painted portrait of Technical Sergeant Michael Francis Curtin of Florence, who perished in World War II while returning from a bombing mission in France and who the VFW Post was named after, watches generations of veterans and their family members mingle during a 75th anniversary cocktail hour, Friday evening at the VFW Post 8006, in Florence, MA. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Relatives of the founding charter members of the VFW Post 8006 Gary Brida, Alan Tardy, and Jack Brida read the original charter document during the Post’s 75th Anniversary celebration, Friday in Florence, MA. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • VFW Member Michael Bouchard of Granby looks through the archival records on display for the 75th anniversary of the VFW Post 8006, Friday, in Florence. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Past VFW State Commander Russel Jobe presents a Diamond Jubilee Award to VFW State Commander Doug Wood and VFW Post 8006 Commander Tom Pease during the VFW Post 8006 75th anniversary dinner, Friday evening, in Florence. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • VFW Post 8006 Auxiliary President Elizabeth Cummings stands with Dorothy Powers, the oldest surviving member and former auxiliary president, along with a 1959 portrait of Powers, Friday, in Florence. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Relatives of the original founding charter members of the VFW Post 8006 were in attendance for the 75th Anniversary events. Alan Tardy and Gary Brida share recollections of founding members Amedee Tardy and John Brida, during a cocktail hour Friday Evening in Florence, MA. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

Staff Writer
Published: 7/26/2021 8:51:39 PM

NORTHAMPTON — VFW Post 8006 held its 75th anniversary celebration on Friday, which was attended by relatives of those who founded the post, local elected officials, and the past and current commander of the state VFW. It also featured a heartfelt speech from Steven Connor, director of Central Hampshire Veterans’ Services, whose father was a lifelong member of the post.

The post also held an anniversary concert Saturday at Look Park.

VFW Post 8006 is named after Michael Curtin, who died when the plane he was on was shot down over France after a bombing mission during World War II in 1943. One of Curtin’s relatives, his great-nephew Chris Wenzel, was at the celebration.

“Honored by it,” said Wenzel, on having a relative who has an institution named after him that’s been going on for such a long time.

Alan Tardy and brothers Gary and Jack Brida also had family ties to the post’s founding. Tardy’s great-uncle Amedee Tardy was a charter member of the post, as was Gary and Jack Brida’s father John Brida.

“Without some of the people we’re talking about we wouldn’t be here right now,” Tardy said.

Both of the Brida brothers served in the military, Gary in the Air Force and Jack in the Navy. Gary Brida said that he had a commissioning party in the VFW, where he noticed that his father’s name was on a plaque on the wall.

“I don’t know if he knew that he was a charter member,” Brida said.

Among the people at Friday’s event were Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, an Air Force veteran.

“This is a post that’s really deeply involved in the community,” Narkewicz said. “Not only helping veterans but also serving just people in need in general.”

He specifically noted the Thanksgiving Dinner the post hosts for the homeless.

State Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa and state Sen. Jo Comerford brought citations congratulating the post from the House of Representatives and Senate, respectively. The current and a past VFW state commander were also in attendance.

Another luminary present was Dorothy “Dot” Powers, 96, the oldest past president of the post’s VFW Auxiliary.

“I was president before we had this building,” Powers said.

In his speech, Connor, a Navy veteran who grew up in Florence, noted the many good things that Post 8006 has done for the community, including sponsoring numerous sports teams, founding an Easter egg hunt and starting what is now believed to be the longest continuous Rag Shag Parade in the country.

“This club was very instrumental in some community activities that still exist today,” Connor said.

The vice president of the post’s VFW Auxiliary, Connor described growing up playing basketball in the VFW and running food from the kitchen for banquets.

“I memorized it as a kid,” Connor said, referring to his route through the building.

However, he also noted how the VFW is there to help veterans dealing with difficult issues, sharing the story of a family friend and VFW member whose son died in Vietnam, and who took his own life in the post’s parking lot.

“It was one of the saddest times in my life,” Connor said.

He said that the man would “always be remembered here.”

David Felty is the incoming commander for VFW Post 8006.

“I think these are milestones for any organization to hit,” Felty said. “I’d like to see it hit 100 and I’d like to see it hit 125.”

Thomas Pease, the post’s current commander, said at the celebration that “it’s not about us now” but the men who came back from World War II and founded the post.

“We carry the torch,” he said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.
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