Every year during Wellesley’s Wonderful Weekend, there is one event that stands as a somber reminder in the midst of the lively celebrations. With the annual Veterans’ Mass, Wellesley honors its men and women who have served their town and their country.

Every year during Wellesley’s Wonderful Weekend, there is one event that stands as a somber reminder in the midst of the lively celebrations. With the annual Veterans’ Mass, Wellesley honors its men and women who have served their town and their country.

“We come here together, today, to honor our neighbors who made the supreme sacrifice,” said John Saunders, who had been in the Army during the Korean Era.  During the Mass, he read the list of Wellesley men who have died in service to their country. The 89 names range from Amos Mills, killed on the first day of the Revolutionary War, to David Ouellet, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for saving his men in Vietnam.

Each year the group of veterans who gather to serve as honor guard and honorees diminishes in number and in strength. Most are in their 80s and 90s now, some use canes, but they proudly dressed in 60-year-old uniforms one more time. 

“I’ve been ill,” said a frail 89-year-old Chet Capodanno, who was in the Army during WWII. “But I would never miss this. It’s my obligation and my privilege.”

 The veterans asked not for prayers for themselves, but blessings for those who had fought by their sides and who never had the chance to return home.

“We have so many things to be thankful for,” said 89-year-old John Tracey, who served in the Coast Guard/Navy during WWII and was then a police officer in Wellesley for more than 30 years. “People don’t realize how great it is to live in this wonderful country, and it’s because of the boys who went to war and never came back. During this Mass we remember them and give thanks.”

“I’m here today to honor the veterans of this country, with whom I shared 25 years of my life,” said Tory DeFazio, who served in both the active Navy and the reserve.  “This is a most meaningful day for all of us.”

 As the veterans formed in a procession to enter the church, simply by their presence they bore witness to the values of sacrifice, dedication and patriotism that shaped their lives and the lives of their lost comrades. Dr. Robert Thomas had suggested the idea of the Mass many years ago, and John Saunders made it become a reality. They both have taken part in every annual event. 

“Too often today we forget those who died for us,” said Dr. Thomas, who had served in the Navy during the Korean Era. “We should never forget. Even today, when we’re at war again, people would rather think about the Red Sox than about those young people giving their lives. That’s why this Mass is so important. Never forget.  Never forget.”

It was a simple service charged with deep emotion, as the town embraced her veterans with a moving mixture of respect, pride, and loss. “Part of coming to Mass is remembering what the Lord has done for us and what others have done for us,” said St. Paul Pastor Rev. Richard Fitzgerald. “What is more appropriate than having a Mass to remember those who served us.”

Near the end of the service, 81-year-old Lindsay Ellms, who had been stationed in the Pacific during WWII, moved from the group of his fellow veterans and lifted up his bugle, which he has played since he was a sixth-grader here at Hardy School. As the poignant 24 notes echoed throughout the stilled church, the simple tune in its purity spoke more of loss and respect than any lengthy eulogy could have done.

The church was crowded with townspeople who came to embrace all their veterans, honoring those who gave their lives or their youth in service to their nation. “My grandfather fought in WWII and my Dad in Vietnam,” said Miriam Palmer, who came with 8-year-old Peter, 6-year-old Ellen, and 5-year-old Ned. “My children never knew either of them. We’re not Catholic, but I brought them here today because I think it’s very important that they grow up learning about the kind of men their grandfather and great-grandfather were; the kind of men we honor today.”


(Names read during the Veterans’ Mass at St. Paul Church)




CIVIL WAR:  John Charles Beiler, Moses Bullard, Henry Fuller, William Fuller, Willard Hunting, Cornelius Kennedy, William Kingsbury, Charles Severance, Frank Severance, Frederick Simpson, Cornelius Smith, Eldridge Stevens




WWI:  Texas Burton, James Glencross, James Hickey, F. Temple Ingraham, Raymond Moore, Patrick O’Donohue


WWII:  Paul Bellofatto, Harry Blaisdell, Walter Blood, Frank Stewart Briggs, Henry Borntraeger, Richards Carle, Charles Chapman, Robert Cleveland, Robert Davis, George Dreher, Louis Evans Jr., Edward Fairfield, John Fitzpatrick, Edwin Gilson, Edward Gleason Jr., Carleton Griswold, Michael Harunkiewicz, Harris Hayward, Herbert Howard Jr., Joseph Indresano, Everett Istas, Philip Justis, John Kelly, Joseph Kelly, Robert Kingsley, John Maher, John Martin, Richard Martin, Robert McEwan, Edwin McGowan, Raynor Michelsen, Richard Miller, Edward Nahass, Clifford Oliver Jr., George Pocock, Jerome Rizzo, Edward Robbins, Robert Rocktaschel, Whittier Thompson, Stephen Rogers Jr., Vincent Rogers, John Scott, Arthur Skahill, Edward Skahill, John Skahill, Robert Steeves, John Sullivan, Joseph Tartari, Robert Tompkins, Thomas Trears Jr., Francis Weadick, David Weden, Clayton Westhaver, Donald Westhaver, John Westhaver, Julian Whitman


PEACETIME:  Frank Birk, Dayton Brown, David Burton, Francis Cummings, John McCarron, Howard Arthur Quigley, James Rogers, David Shaiken


KOREAN WAR:  Herbert Balboni


VIETNAM WAR:  Eugene Daly Jr., Thomas Flood, Dana Stanley Frost, David Ouellet (Medal of Honor)