Taunton Legion members standing, left to right: Lon Gawarecki, Don Gorecki, Bill Vlaminck, David Hennen and Francis Rabaey presented Tom Swedzinski with a plaque to honor his 67 years as a member.

DeVos, Swedzinski honored by Taunton Legion

Navy, Army veterans have been Legion members for over 60 years

As the number of military association members has declined over the years, Ray DeVos and Tom Swedzinski were recently honored for their length of service to the Taunton American Legion.
Both received a plaque from members of the Taunton American Legion Post 604 at their homes. DeVos, 93, has been a Legion member for the past 69 years, while Swedzinski, 90, has been a member for the past 67 years.
"I think it's important to be a member of the Legion or VFW," Devos said. "We need more of the younger veterans to join.
Swedzinski echoed those sentiments.
"It seems like the younger ones don't want to join for some reason," he said. "They should, though."
DeVos spent 1948-52 in the U.S. Navy stationed in Connecticut, Newfoundland and Florida during the Korean War.
"I was a 3rd Class Petty Officer," he said. "I was aboard the U.S. Tringa submarine rescue ship. I started out in the engine room, and it was so loud in there that I have hearing loss from it. We didn't wear any (ear) protection back then."
As soon as he was discharged and returned to Taunton, where he was born and raised, he owned and operated a Union 76 station on the west end of town. He also married his wife. Delores, 69 years ago.
"We met on a blind date," Delores said. "We've been together ever since."
"When I was on leave, I would drive my '49 Chevy to visit her," Ray said while flashing a smile. "It was 1,900 miles one way."The DeVos' have three children, nine grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.
Swedzinski was a Private 1st Class in the U.S. Army from 1952-54. He was stationed in Germany, 70 miles from Frankfurt.
"I was fortunate that by the time my basic training was completed, the war was over," Swedzinski told. "It was a satisfying feeling. I was thankful that I wasn't involved in any combat."
Among Swedzinski's duties during his military service was to work in the chemical warehouse boxing and shipping items.
When he completed his military service time, Swedzinski returned to Taunton to work on the farm. He and his wife, Madeline, have been married 60 years. They have four children and 15 grandchildren.
Both men were recruited to join the Legion by members as soon as they were discharged and returned to Taunton.
"They felt it was important for veterans to join," Swedzinski said.
"I barely got home and they asked me to join," laughed Devos.
The men deserved to be honored for being Legion members for a combined 136 years.
The plaque read: "In recognition for your years of dedicated service" and had a large eagle head above a U.S. flag.
"It sure was nice that they did that for us," Swedzinski said.

Ray DeVos

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