SKOWHEGAN — Hundreds of people of all ages lined Madison Avenue and Water Street under sunny skies Monday to watch the Memorial Day parade, which ended with services at Veterans Memorial Park.

Larry Ross, an educator and historian from Canaan, commemorated those who died between about 2003 and 2005 in Afghanistan and Iraq, including U.S. Marine Major Jay Thomas Aubin, a pilot who perished at age 36 on March 21, 2003, in a helicopter crash in Kuwait, near the Iraqi border.

Ross held a large poster depicting Aubin’s face, which was made up of many smaller faces of service men and women who died during that time period.

Although Ross did not know Aubin, he began to learn about and understand him through stories shared by Aubin’s family and friends.

Aubin attended Margaret Chase Smith School in Skowhegan, and left for the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from Skowhegan Area High School, Ross said. He served four years and then enrolled in University of Southern Maine, earned a business degree and then returned to the Marine Corps.

Ross said that while serving, one of Aubin’s responsibilities was to chain down helicopters on his ship. His friends said Aubin, for whom they developed the call sign “Sweet Pea,” because he was nice to everyone, was meticulous about securing the helicopters.


One night, Aubin insisted the helicopters were not secured well enough, so he made his way up the chain of command until he found someone who would listen — the commanding officer. It was the middle of the night and Aubin saw to it that the helicopters were appropriately secured, according to Ross.

The next morning, a typhoon hit, he said.

“That’s who we all need to be,” Ross said, referring to Aubin’s conscience and sense of dedication.

One should speak the truth when it needs to be spoken, and not take “no” for an answer, Ross said.

“Usually along the way,” he said, “you’ll find someone who agrees with you.”

Ross recognized members of Aubin’s family, who were in attendance Monday, including his mother, Nancy Chamberlain.


“Thank you in particular to the Chamberlain family,” Ross said. “Mrs. Chamberlain allowed me to wander into her life 20 years ago and allowed me to stay.”

The Rev. Mark Tanner of the Skowhegan Federated Church thanked the parade committee and others who took part in Monday’s events, including Skowhegan police Chief David Bucknam, who led the Pledge of Allegiance, and his officers, as well as Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster. Skowhegan police Officer David Daigneault was the parade’s grand marshal, and he was recognized by Bucknam at the ceremony afterward.

“We come to remember,” Tanner said. “We come to remember the men and women in this community who fought bravely so we could have the independence we share today.”

Tanner recognized Steve Spaulding, commander of the Peters-Shortier American Legion Post 16, who performed taps, and his wife, Ann, who read aloud the poem “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrae.

World War II veteran Eugene Cullinane, 95, is recognized Monday during the Memorial Day program at the Veterans Memorial Park next to the Municipal Building in Skowhegan. With Cullinane is his daughter Nancy. A parade through downtown Skowhegan took place before the start of the program at the memorial. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Tanner also recognized World War II veteran Eugene Cullinane, 95, and Vietnam veterans Billy Demo and Harold Haskins of Skowhegan, who died recently. Both were 74.

Evelyn LaCroix, 14, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” to applause.

The parade, which also included area firefighters, Kora Shriners, horses and old vehicles, was organized by the Federated Church, the Legion post and Skowhegan Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Originally referred to as Decoration Day, Memorial Day began after the Civil War and was recognized as a federal holiday in 1971. The holiday falls annually on the last Monday in May.

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