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Littleton recognizes sacrifice made by WW II soldier and his family

Redington Street Bridge dedicated to Pvt. Louis "Bob" Corey

Art McGrath/The Littleton Courier Pvt. Louis “Bob” Corey’s daughters Marilyn Stillings (from left), Roberta Lyons and Joan Zitter unveil the plaque dedicating Redington Street Bridge to Corey on Veterans Day in honor of his service and sacrifice in World War II. (click for larger version)
November 16, 2011
LITTLETON — While Americans across the nation gave thanks to war veterans for their service and sacrifice, Littleton honored one of its own heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice 66 years ago.

Last Friday, friends and family of Louis "Bob" Corey crowded onto the newly opened Redington Street Bridge to see it dedicated to a man who lost his life at age 31 in France during World War II.

"It's a wonderful honor for a longstanding family in this community," said Steve Simon, who owns Simon's Market on Union Street and is a nephew of Corey. "I'm grateful our family has been thought of to the extent that they would do this for our Uncle Bob."

Corey was a husband and a father of three little girls, as well as a Littleton businessman — he ran Corey's Market, now Simon's Market— when he decided to sign up to protect his family's and his country's freedoms on March 16, 1944. He chose to go, though he could have gotten a waiver as the primary breadwinner for his family.

Pvt. Corey was captured when the Germans overran his unit, and he later died in a field hospital in Fresnes, France, where he was also buried. He was listed as missing in action on Oct. 1, 1944, but the family was not notified of his death until April 18, 1946. After the war, he was exhumed and reburied where he rests today — Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial in St. Avold, France. As Corey's nephew, Brig. Gen. (select) Peter Corey said during his keynote speech, the dedication of the bridge symbolically brought Corey back to his hometown.

Joan Ziter was only five when her father died, so she could hardly speak for how he might have reacted to the Veterans Day ceremony, though all of the Corey family appeared deeply touched and grateful. She could, however, guess how her mother, Sadie Ann Corey, who passed away in 2005, would have felt.

"She would have been very honored," Ziter said of the dedication. "She was very quiet about her grief, but she would have been very honored."

As the sun broke through the overcast skies to warm the crowd, the 11 a.m. ceremony kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Redington Street Bridge, which was just opened last Tuesday after a summer-long construction phase preceded by months and years of planning.

The $2 million project was in the works since 2009, when the town voted to replace a 1928 High Pratt Truss metal bridge that spans the Ammonoosuc rather than repair it. Last spring, the old link between the Apthorp neighborhood and Littleton was finally removed for new construction, and the Board of Selectmen voted to dedicate the new structure to Corey.

During the ceremony, Selectmen Chairman Ron Bolt thanked the taxpayers who supported the bridge project along with other recent projects such as the Littleton Opera House, Main Street, phase two of the Riverwalk and the new police station. Thanks also went out to the abutters to the project, who had to deal with the noise and inconvenience.

After the ribbon cutting, Executive Councilor Ray Burton introduced the keynote speaker for the dedication ceremony: New Hampshire Army National Guard Brig. Gen. (select) Peter Corey, who was born in Littleton.

"What do you say on a day like this?" asked Burton. "It's a day of celebration for America. It's a day of celebration for the Corey family, and really for all of us," Burton said.

Peter Corey, currently a Colonel but nominated for promotion to Brigadier General, reminded the crowd of Pvt. Corey's ties to the Redington Street Bridge area of Littleton known as Apthorp.

"The Corey family homestead lies a short distance away and remains in the family to this day," said Corey. "It was here that Alexander and Martha settled down [after emigrating from Lebanon] in their new country to raise their family of 11 children."

He went on to say that a community of young Lebanese families — the Lahouts, Toneys, Simons — lived in Apthorp and became an integral part of the town as they established businesses and participated in civic organizations.

"Thus, Bob Corey represents not only our Veterans, but a rich part of Littleton's history," said Corey.

The local Veterans of Foreign Wars honor guard capped off the ceremonies with a three-volley salute and taps.

"Bob Corey left a wife and three young daughters to answer the call of duty, so that our nation and the citizens of other nations could have peace and security," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in a letter read by Selectmen Vice Chairman Marghie Seymour. "Let this bridge be a lasting reminder … that we remain grateful for the service and sacrifice that he and his family made."

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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