PLAISTOW — It took Roy Jeffrey months to find all 51 World War II veterans living in Plaistow.
Jeffrey, 86, studied the list of hundreds of veterans who receive the town's $200 veteran property tax credit to find all the WW II veterans — and then talked to each one.
Sometimes it was just a phone call, but some weren't that easy to reach. Jeffrey visited nursing homes and houses to talk with each veteran. "Sometimes it ended with visiting for a couple hours," he said.
Next year is the 65th anniversary of the end of the war and Jeffrey said he'd like Plaistow to give a little extra recognition to the veterans on Memorial Day, Veterans Day or Old Home Day.
"We're all in our 80s and the ranks are thinning fast," Jeffrey said.
He recently presented his list to the Board of Selectmen and asked them to keep the veterans in mind.
"They were very positive in their response to us," Jeffrey said.
He doesn't have anything special in mind, but said whatever the town could do for its veterans would be appreciated.
In addition to names and addresses, Jeffrey listed the veterans' branch of service.
When Jeffrey joined thousands of others entering the military in the early 1940s, he chose the Navy. It was his second year at Keene Teacher's College in 1943 and the young Walpole native thought he would be on a ship somewhere instead of in a foxhole.
The Marines sent him to Japan.
"I didn't want to sleep in a foxhole, but I ended up in a foxhole in Okinawa," said Jeffrey, who spent three years in the service as a pharmacist mate.
Each conversation Jeffrey had with the town's dozens of veterans was a little different.
Some of the veterans weren't interested in special recognition, but, in other conversations, he learned a lot. The town's oldest veteran is 96 years old and lives with his daughter. Another was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked by the Japanese.
There are five WW II veterans living right in his own neighborhood.
Another veteran, Tom Cullen, 84, helped Jeffrey with the project. Cullen said he was surprised by the number of World War II veterans still living in Plaistow.
"I figured it was closer to 30," Cullen said.
Jeffrey is hoping the project doesn't stop with World War II veterans.
He said he would like to see someone like a Boy Scout or a resident volunteer to keep track of the town's veterans and organize the rest of the list by what war they served in.
"I feel this is something the town should know," Jeffrey said.
He and Cullen admit they may have missed a veteran by accident. In that case, the veteran would just have to contact the Town Hall to be recognized.
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