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Nashoba Publishing/John Love
Harvard selectman and Navy Cmdr. Ron Ricci pins medals on fellow seaman Shipfitter Second Class Roland Oliver Marineau, who earned the medals during World War II but never received them.

HARVARD — Roland Martineau stood at the front of the meeting room looking down as retired Navy Reserve Cmdr. Ronald Ricci pinned three medals onto the lapel of his suit coat.

Martineau was presented the American Theater, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign and World War II Victory medals for his service in the war in front of family, friends and town officials in a short ceremony at Harvard Town Hall on June 30.

“Just yell out if I miss,” Ricci joked with Martineau about pinning the medals, just before the ceremony. “This is the first time I’ve had to do this.”

Martineau was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd once the three medals were pinned.

“What can I say?” he said. “This is great. It brings back a lot of memories.”

Somehow, Martineau had fallen through the cracks and never received his medals even though he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy as a Shipfitter 2nd Class in 1946.

Martineau’s wife, Lucille, wanted to surprise him on his 84th birthday, this past April, with a shadow box holding the medals. She was able to do so with the help of Harvard Veterans’ Agent Dennis Lyddy.

“I’m very proud of him,” Lucille said of her husband. “The whole family is proud of him but (Veterans’ Agent Lyddy) deserves all the credit. He made all this happen.”

Regardless of how much work Lyddy did to obtain the medals, he gives all the credit to the Martineaus themselves.

“If two star-crossed teenagers didn’t cross paths and get married, this wouldn’t be possible,” he said.

Lyddy was able to purchase the medals locally for the shadow box and worked with U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., to obtain the “real” medals that were presented to Martineau in the ceremony.

“This is something very rewarding and moving for me to be a part of,” Tsongas said. “Anyone that has served our country should be recognized, but not even just simply recognized but given the proper recognition.”

Born in Leominster, Martineau married Lucille when they were both only 19 years old, six months before he left for Navy basic training. They will be married for 65 years this November.

The newlyweds weren’t separated for long after boot camp.

“I remember we had just returned from an 18-mile hike,” Martineau said of his training in Port Hueneme, Calif. “We were in company formation and a note was presented to my officer. They arranged for me to meet my wife in Oakland.”

The Martineaus visited with each other over the next two months in Southern California, Roland recalled, before he finally boarded the ship to take him to far-off places such as New Guinea and the Philippines.

“When I was boarding the ship,” he said, “I got a telegram that said she had made it home safely.”

Martineau was a member of the 105th Naval Construction Battalion — better known as the “Seabees.” The crew, according to Lyddy, built military airfields, roads, fuel depots and waterfront facilities as part of the “new” military concept for the Navy, where civilian tradesmen and master craftsmen were trained in the arts of war and then deployed anywhere the Navy needed construction, or destruction, done.

Martineau returned to Massachusetts after his discharge and worked in metal fabrication while raising his four sons, Peter, James, Ron and Jeffrey, with Lucille.

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