Giving Thanks to Those Who Serve Our Country
Sitting around the holiday table, many families will count their blessings this Thanksgiving. Some will be thankful their loved ones have returned home safe after serving on active duty in the armed forces, while others will be thankful there are brave men and women who have answered the call of duty to serve and protect our country, and have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The acrifice of 1stLt. Dennis Joseph Reardon is remembered every day by those who pass by the memorial square dedicated to him on the corner of Elm Street and Stephen's Lane near the police department entrance, just three houses down from the home he grew up in, 84 Elm St. As a living tribute, members of one of the Cohasset garden clubs planted a very rare cucumber tree, (Magnolia acuminata), which has continued to flourish since the 1960s.
Well known around town, Reardon, whose nickname was "The Duck" was often spotted riding his motorcycle up Jerusalem Road. His quick smile and irresistible sense of humor help those who knew him continue to remember him today.
Reardon grew up in Cohasset and attended the old Ripley Road School, the Deer Hill School, and graduated from Cohasset High School in 1963. Reardon was very involved in the community he loved, serving as an alter boy at St. Anthony's Church, and playing football on the high school team. He was a standout athlete and was selected as co-captain of the Cohasset football team as well as co-captain of the Mayshore League team. He was also chosen to be a member of the Patriot Ledger Football All Scholastic team.
After graduating from Cohasset High School, Reardon went on to study at Boston College, where he majored in finance. He was a member of the Delta Sigma Pi fraternity and graduated in 1967 with a bachelor's degree in science. Shortly after, Reardon volunteered for service in the United States Marine Corps, and was commissioned a 2ndLt. on Nov. 1, 1967. At that time, Reardon's brother Norbert was also serving as a Marine officer. Reardon was the third oldest of six children, and had three sisters and two brothers.
Reardon went on to attend flight school at the Naval Air Station in Pensa- cola, Fla., and earned his wings as a naval aviator on April 25, 1969. That September, he received orders assigning him to HMM-364 - the Purple Foxes - a helicopter squadron located at Marble Mountain in Vietnam.
On Nov. 29, 1969, Reardon received the orders which would be his last. On a mission to evacuate combat casualties from a location in the Que San Moun- tains, 20 miles south of Da Nang, Reardon's CH-46 helicopter exploded in flight, killing Reardon and his entire flight crew.
After Reardon's death, his parents, Mary and Norbert, a letter from Reardon's commanding officer, Lt. Col. C. R. Dunbaugh, informing them of the tragedy. He wrote, "Even though Dennis had been with this squadron for a short period of time, he quickly made friends and leaves us with lasting memories. He was extremely conscientious and devoted to his duties and immediately gained the respect of his fellow Marines. We will miss him a great deal, and hope that you find some comfort knowing this."
For his heroism, Reardon was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star medal with the Combat "V", the Air Medal with Numeral 7, the Purple Heart, and the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor medal. In addition, Cohasset residents dedicated the Dennis Joseph Reardon Memorial Square in his memory to ensure the boy who gave his life for his hometown and his coun- try, receives eternal thanks.
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