Memorial Day, once known as Decoration Day, has been observed in the United States since 1868. Millinocket’s Memorial Day parades for many years featured members of Company I, 103rd Infantry, Millinocket, of the Maine National Guard. A photo of the World War II era group of Company is on display in the museum’s military room.
In 2015, Ron Fraser, a former member of Co. I visited the museum and noticed the photo on display. He stated that most of the group shown were sent to the South Pacific during World War II. Company I, an infantry group, was federalized in February, 1941 as part of the 43rd “Winged Victory” Division and the 110 men and four officers from the Millinocket area were sent to Ft. Blanding, Florida for training and then to the Pacific where they spent three years in campaigns against the Japanese. Fraser went to Ft. Blanding with the others and then left to attend Officer Training School.
Fraser, in his 90’s when visiting the museum, spent time with the photo of his former Guard members and went row by row, naming most of the men. For many, he also had a bit of a story to tell. His memory was great! He stated that some were from the surrounding area (East Millinocket, Medway), not just Millinocket. I believe at the time, Fraser was the last surviving member of the original group. There are still some in the Co. I photo, who have not been identified. Stop in at the museum if you can assist the naming others!
The museum has two books on the history of the 43rd Division and one has photos of all the Company I, Millinocket area members. It is titled 103rd Infantry, 43rd Division. The second book is titled The History of the 43rd Infantry Division, 1941-1945. Paul Hikel’s name is written inside the cover of both books and his name and photo are included in the Company I section. Both books are available for research purposes.
New items donated to the museum include: a Millinocket Band hat from Lenny Berry (completes the uniform he donated earlier); copy of Millinocket Foundry history article from Maine Seniors magazine, article written and donated by Anne Gabbianelli;
framed mill photo that had belonged to H. Hughes (deceased); three mill photos donated by Dick Manzo.