Three Veterans Receive Wartime Service Medals at Mulberry Gardens

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Many people remember their 21st birthdays. However, few individuals celebrate like Marjorie McKennerney did on her 21st in 1944: she enlisted in the U.S. Navy. “We were all very patriotic at that time. We all wanted our country to win the war,” she said, explaining why she felt compelled to serve during World War II.

On May 22, in recognition of their patriotic service, she and two other U.S. Navy veterans were honored at the Connecticut Veterans Wartime Service Ceremony held at Mulberry Gardens of Southington, 58 Mulberry St.

Other recipients were Edward Talan, also a Mulberry Gardens resident, as is McKennerney, and Kenneth Leslie, an Arbor Rose at Jerome Home resident. Each received a letter and certificate from Thomas Saadi, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs. “Thank you for your selfless service. The freedoms we enjoy today are a result of your sacrifice,” the letter read in part, referring to each individual as a “true American” and “Connecticut hero.”

Sherri Vogt, veterans liaison, Hartford HealthCare at Home, pinned the service medals on each honoree as Wayne Rioux, also a veterans liaison, read their bios detailing their accomplishments.

McKennerney was stationed in Washington, D.C. with the U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Ships where she performed secretarial work, a career she continued after her discharge.

Talan served in the Medical Corps with the U.S. Marines. After boot camp he did his advanced training at Portsmouth Hospital where he worked with medical staff during a malaria outbreak. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California and traveled to Hawaii and Japan. Upon discharge, this Hospital Apprentice First Class attended Quinnipiac College and American International College and taught social studies for 35 years in Waterbury.

Leslie, a Korean War veteran, served three years, one month and 11 days during which he was stationed on the Ice Breaker USS Edisto and Aircraft Carrier USS Tarawa, among other assignments. His duties included taking weather readings and sending them to headquarters, helping plot weather maps, and sending and tracing weather balloons. His rank was AGAN (Aerographer’s Mate Airman). Highlights of his military service were seeing the “Land of the Midnight Sun” while on the Edisto and visiting the South Atlantic on the Tarawa, he said.

Jacquelyn Gaulin, Mulberry Gardens executive director, recognized and thanked all veterans who were present. “Today and every day we are grateful for our military personnel and the families who supported them,” she said.

Mulberry Gardens of Southington, a not for profit assisted living, adult day and memory care community, is a member of Hartford HealthCare Senior Services. For more information about Mulberry Gardens of Southington, visit

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