Eagle Scout Dedication of Sign at Ninigret Park
Thanks to Brandon Perrone of Westerly’s Troop 16, the former U.S. Navy Auxiliary Landing Field in Charlestown sports a new sign to mark the Memorial Garden and Monument close to the entrance of Ninigret Park. Perrone unveiled his Eagle Scout project on Saturday morning, May 21, Armed Forces Day, in front of over fifty well wishers. Marked by the same precision of the pilots whom he honored, Perrone’s ceremony came off without a hitch.
Junior Assistant Scoutmaster and Eagle Scout Joe Brodeur opened the dedication with a pledge of allegiance and a moment of silence. He listened for the flyover plane, the 1941 AT- 6A North American Texan, before giving the traditional BSA and Marine “Two” command. Like clockwork, pilot Mark Simmons of Westerly flew low over the former air field and treated the audience to a slice of what life must have been like in the 1940s.
Brodeur introduced Charlestown Town Council President Tom Gentz who gave a brief history of the naval auxiliary field. He noted that between June 1943 and 1944, 21 airplanes left the field and crashed and that from 1943 to its closing in the 1970’s, 62 airman lost their lives. He added that the air field, known as “Charlietown,” was once home to 2,000 Navy personnel and included a control tower, hangars, fueling areas, residential units, a 3-acre fire pond, now Nini Pond, two water towers, and a sewage treatment plant.
Brodeur then introduced soon to be Eagle Scout Brandon Perrone, who selected this project because of similarities he saw between scouting and the military. In defining his Eagle Scout project, he thought of the former naval airfield as having potential and with the help of Frank Glista, volunteer caretaker of the memorial, brought the project to fruition. He also expressed gratitude to Larry Webster, Charlie Beck, and Dana Millar for their support. He recognized the unfailing support of his family and the scouts of Troop 16 led by scoutmaster Felix Martinez and other adult leaders.
Perrone ended on a strong note. He quoted the former President George H. W. Bush who flew out of Charlietown back in the day and said, “When I was a Navy pilot…, we had a saying that some pilots still use today called CAVU – Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited…that’s the way I feel about life itself, and that’s the way I want your lives to be.” Perrone thanked everyone for attending the ceremony and ended with, “God Bless the United States of America.”
For more information about Troop 16, visit their website.