For well over 250 years, Windham men and women have been protecting our freedom. On July 4, 1991, a granite monument was unveiled and dedicated with a huge parade and appropriate ceremony.
Former POW Anthony Pecoraro was the keynote speaker. Pecoraro was born in South Windham to an Italian immigrant. In the high school yearbook, Tony was described as the star baseball pitcher in his class of 1937.
He went to college in Gorham and the July after his 1942 graduation, he embarked on a military career which would last for 23 years.
During World War II, Tony served three years in the Pacific and when he returned to Maine, he became a principal and taught math at Casco High School.
When war broke out in Korea, he was recalled to serve his country again and became Company Commander of Charlie Company; 65th Engineer Combat Battalion, part of the 25th Infantry Division in the Army. He and his men were near the Manchurian border when over 200,000 Chinese Communists came across the border. Pecoraro was taken captive for over 1,000 days. He told me he never gave up hope and had faith he would return to Maine.
And he did return. He was released from his captors on August 30, 1953 and was back home shortly after. Less than a month after his release, hometown friends organized a huge parade and celebration on Main Street, South Windham – where he grew up.
Capt. Pecoraro stayed in the Army and from 1956-1959 taught military history and engineering. He retired in April, 1965, a Lieutenant Colonel.
After the Army, Tony went back to college and got his Masters Degree; he taught at King Junior High School in Portland for 13 years.