SHIRLEY -- Richard Hatch, in addition to his long history of civic activities, is a World War II veteran. In 1961, he served as commander of Shirley American Legion Post #183.

Interviewed for a series of recent newspaper articles, Hatch said he was a teenager when the United States entered the second World War and cited opportunities that came his way on the homefront during that time, leading an Oracle reporter to mistakenly conclude that his military service came later and that he served in the Navy after the war.

In fact, however, Hatch signed up in 1945. "I left school to join the Navy," he said in a brief phone conversation this week, correcting that misconception.

Hatch was in boot camp when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Japan in August, signaling the end of the war. As a result, his active enlistment period lasted just a year, he said, concluding when the war ended. He later served in the Naval Reserves.

Hatch never returned to school. But thanks to a veterans program in which Ayer High School participated, he later received his high school diploma, he said, along with several others who left school before graduation to enlist in the armed services during World War II.

-- M.E. Jones