Scouts honor veterans at Cedar Dell

Nov 11, 2017

For Tom Rocha, nothing could get in the way of his passion for sports. Not even his desire to serve his country.

Growing up in Dartmouth, he stayed active in sports throughout his academic career, competing on several sports teams in his middle and high school days, although in the early 1950s Dartmouth’s sports teams weren’t as large and weren’t as competitive as they are today.

But before graduating from Dartmouth High School in 1953, a teacher inspired him to enlist in the Army Reserve.

After a three-year in the Reserves, he transitioned into the Air Force after he was denied several times from the Army because his military occupation in military governance was not in high demand.

“My brother was in the Korean War and told me not to join the Army but join the Air Force instead,” Rocha said, explaining that living conditions tended to be nicer.

After moving between several bases in the United States and training to become a radar operator, he was stationed in French Morocco for a year, and spent his last few years in the service working on radar systems at Otis Air Base and in Newport.

But at each base, he made a name for himself in the on-base sports teams, mingling with soldiers who went on to play in the NFL and NBA. He even kept his basketball and bowling skills up while stationed in the Sahara Desert in Morocco.

Rocha was one of dozens of veterans who were honored at several events at The Residence at Cedar Dell. On November 10, Boy Scouts from Troop 333, based in Freetown gathered for a Veterans Day ceremony, including a flag folding ceremony, speeches, and performances of patriotic songs.

“We’ve been doing this every year for three or four years now,” said Scoutmaster Ken Viera. “It’s a way to give back to veterans.”

Baylen Brunelle is a regular at the Residence as his grandmother is a resident there, but was happy to brighten the day of many of the facility’s veteran residents.

“It’s just great to honor so many people willing to defend our country who are here today,” Brunelle said after the ceremonies.