Veterans map out graves to flag for Memorial Day

Veterans map out graves to flag for Memorial Day

Frank Ringeling, of the American Legion Post 19, shows a map he’s used to locate veterans’ gravesites in Scituate. He said now anybody can pick up the map and be able to flag the sites. Ringeling and other Post members will be out flagging veterans’ graves for Memorial Day again this year. (Breeze photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)

SCITUATE – In May of every year, Tony Torres enters into Providence Water Supply Board property off Tunk Hill Road to clean up and mow the cemetery where Archibald Malbourne was buried.

With permission from the company, he returns a few days later with his grandson, Jack Theroux, and places a U.S. flag on the grave to commemorate Malbourne’s service for Memorial Day.

Malbourne received the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest honor a soldier can receive, for his acts during the Siege of Petersburg, Va. during the Civil War. Part of an unarmed battery, except for ramrods and lanyards, he and a crew of 19 men sent more than 100 cannon shots into the Confederates, contributing greatly to their defeat.

Members of the American Legion Post 19 retold Malbourne’s story at Granite Farm over coffee and breakfast last Saturday. The men, David Randall, Craig Dexter, Brian Sedgley, Frank Ringeling, Richard Borys, Tony Terceria, Bob Sherman, Tony Torres and his grandson, Jack Theroux, have been meeting here once a year for the past five years to go over the logistics for the day of flagging veterans’ graves for Memorial Day.

Last year, the men placed 572 flags on veteran graves in more than 50 cemeteries of Scituate and elsewhere.

Leading the effort to map out each site were Ringeling and Borys, the legion’s co-leaders According to Ringeling, the two have flagged graves for Memorial Day for the past decade.

Ringeling said he knew the flagging situation was in need of a reworking when it came down to just one person who knew the locations of veteran gravesites throughout Scituate.

“It was on one piece of paper, one person knew, and it was mostly by memory. If something happened to him, we’d be lost,” Borys said.

Members said that several of the sites are located in the woods or on private property, and many were moved for the construction of the reservoir into other cemeteries such as Rockland Cemetery. Ringeling and Borys combined what was already known about gravesites and used GPS locators to map out and give solid directions to all known Scituate veteran gravesites.

“It’s a work in progress,” Ringeling said. The men break into groups headed north and south following breakfast, and place flags until around 2 or 3 p.m.

Randall, Post 19 commander, said the varying conditions of gravestones make mapping out plots important.

“Some are really small, slate headstones, others are lying down,” Randall said. “The state is very happy with what we’ve been doing, they are using their work as a model.”

Now, Ringeling said anybody could look at the paperwork and maps he and Borys made and take over the job. But, with other groups dedicated to servicing veterans, he said the new challenge would be deciding which groups flagged certain graves.

“We’ve got to pare it down who flags which grave,” he said. Flags are acquired from the Rhode Island Office of Veteran Affairs.

The volunteer veterans said they fear many veteran gravesites are lost, or soon will be due to disrepair.

“The stones are like reading a history book if you read between the lines,” Ringeling said.

This year, the town’s Memorial Day Parade will be held Monday, May 28, at 10 a.m. at the Berkander Field on Institute Land near the North Scituate Gazebo, hosted by the American Legion Post 19. It will be immediately followed by a Vietnam War Commemoration ceremony at the Congregational Church at the corner of West Greenville Road and Silk Lane.

The veterans at American Legion Post 19 regroup after breakfast before going out to flag veteran graves for the day in honor of Memorial Day.
Jack Theroux, grandson of American Legion Post 19 member Tony Torres, is shown flagging the grave of civil war veteran Archibald Malbourne, who received a Congressional Medal of Honor for his service.