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151st Memorial Day Ceremony Scheduled for May 22 First Woman Commander of USS Constitution Keynote Speaker

Commander Billie Farrell is the keynote speaker for Belling

By KEN HAMWEY, Contributing Writer
Bellingham’s 151st Memorial Day ceremony will be held on Sunday, May 22, starting with a parade that will begin at 1 p.m. at the Memorial School.
Both the parade and the ceremony will focus on a theme that salutes women veterans.
“There’ll be a float that will feature female veterans from Bellingham, and the keynote speaker will be Commander Billie Farrell, who’s the first woman commander in the 224-year history of the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides),’’ said Jim Hastings, the Chairman of the Memorial and Veterans Day Committee. “She’s the ship’s 77th commanding officer.’’

Farrell, who’s a native of Paducah, Ky., attended the United States Naval Academy and was commissioned in 2004 after earning a Bachelor of Science degree in political science. She received 
her Master of Science in operations management from the University of Arkansas in 2009.  
Her first division officer tour was aboard the USS Vella Gulf as electrical officer. Then, she took over as division officer before fleeting up as navigator for her second tour. After her two division officer tours, Farrell reported to Millington, Tenn., where she became an action officer in PERS-833 (Post Selection Board Matters). There, she served as delay section head and assistant board screener.  
After departing PERS-833, Farrell started the department head pipeline. She reported to the USS San Jacinto in March 2012 as the weapons officer. She later served as combat systems officer onboard. 
Her next tour was as the Deputy Director for Professional Development at the United States Naval Academy. After leaving the academy, Farrell reported to Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic as Deputy N3.  She previously served as executive officer onboard the USS Vicksburg.
Farrell’s awards include three Meritorious Service Medals, four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and three Meritorious Unit Commendation Medals. 
Master Sergeant Linda Calderiso of Bellingham also will be speaking. 
Calderiso retired from the U.S. Army Regional Support Command as a Regional Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (REPLO) for FEMA Region 1 in July, 2008. She was promoted to the position on Sept. 8, 2001. 
Although not formally assigned to the team, upon hearing of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Calderiso reported to the FEMA Region 1 Regional Operations Center. That center oversaw the federal rescue effort in New York City while Region II rebuilt its damaged operations center. 
Calderiso was deployed to Atlanta in support of the FEMA Region IV Regional Operation Center in September, 2004 after Hurricane Ivan and during Hurricane Jeanne. She served as the senior operations non-commissioned officer at the center for the REPLO team. Calderiso was responsible for preparing and disseminating mission assignments to three Defense Coordinating Elements (DCE), in Florida, Alabama, and South Carolina.
Calderiso was also deployed to First Army Headquarters Center in Atlanta in support of Hurricane Katrina; attended the Inspector General Academy as a Staff Sergeant (E6); conducted surveys and sensing session of all New England Units in response to the Aberdeen Providing Ground scandal; and served as the Army Physical Fitness Leader Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge.
The parade route will start at the Memorial School and continue along Rte. 126 to Bellingham center. Parade participants are encouraged to refrain from parking at the school’s lot. “It will help if people are dropped off so there’ll be room for parade participants to line up and form the marching order,’’ said Hastings. 
Parade participants include: the Army, Marine Corps, and Navy Color Guards, the Bellingham High School Band, the Old Colony Bagpipe Band, the Douglas High Band, the Highland Light Scottish Pipe Band, the Mass. State Police Bagpipe Band, and the Worcester Fire Brigade Bagpipe Band. 
The floats in the parade will represent the Bellingham DPW, the Vietnam veterans of Rhode Island, Milford veterans, the Bellingham Women of Today, the Bellingham Senior Center, the USS Constitution, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, WWII tank, Crawford family veterans, VFW veterans and women veterans from Bellingham. 
Hastings said he was pleased that the parade, which was called off for the last two years because of the pandemic, has again become an integral part of the holiday.
“Memorial Day is a time to pause and honor the memory of our servicemen and women for protecting us,’’ Hastings said. “If it weren’t for those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we’d be living in a different type of United States. They’re the ones who’ve enabled us to enjoy the freedoms we have today.’’
The ceremony at the Town Common will begin at about 2 p.m. with a wreath-laying ceremony to honor servicemen from Bellingham who made the ultimate sacrifice. A prayer will be offered at the War Memorial near the Rte. 140 entrance. An invocation will start the program at the gazebo, followed by the National Anthem, sung by the Memorial School Chorus, and the Pledge of Allegiance. The Gettysburg Address will be recited before the Senior Chorus sings God Bless America.
Hastings will deliver opening remarks, and State Representative Mike Soter will offer his thoughts about the holiday. The ceremony will continue with Nick Mobilia reading the names of deceased Bellingham veterans who passed away during the last year. The Oliver brothers (Robert and Joseph) will sing “The Possible Dream.’’
Lori Fafard, a former teacher at Stallbrook School and a member of the Memorial Day and Veterans Day Committee, will present gift cards to three fourth-grade students whose Memorial Day posters are judged 1-3. Ten other students will be cited for honorable mention.
Tom Earnest, a Navy veteran, will introduce Commander Farrell who’ll deliver the keynote address.
Closing ceremonies will include the reading of names by Memorial School students of all Bellingham residents who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country during the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The Old Colony Bagpipe Band will perform Amazing Grace followed by a rifle volley, Taps and the closing prayer.
Hastings emphasized that if anyone knows of a Bellingham resident who enlisted in the military during the last two years to contact him at (508) 966-0364 so names can be added to the War Memorial to recognize their service. 
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