This Memorial Day let us remember Westford’s Veteran of Two Wars
By James Van Bever ( May 2022)
Many people in Westford have heard of Frederick S. Healy Post 159 American Legion Post located in Graniteville, but a lot of people do not know who Frederick S. Healy was. This is not surprising since Mr. Healy lost his life in France almost eighty years ago during World War II.
But what makes Fred Healy unique is that although he served and gave his life in World War II, he was not from what Tom Brokaw termed “The Greatest Generation.” In fact, Healy was from the World War I generation.
Frederick S. Healy was born on 2nd Street in Graniteville in 1898. He was the son of J.A. Healy who was the founder of the J.A. Healy and Sons Coal and Coke Company and the J.A. Healy and Sons Funeral Directors. Fred was a 1916 graduate of Westford Academy, a class that consisted of only five boys and one girl.
In 1917, the United States entered World War I and shortly after, Healy answered his country’s call and joined the United States Army. The Army then assigned him to Europe to join the Allied Forces in their war against Germany and the Central Powers. At the conclusion of World War I, Fred returned to Graniteville and began working for the J. A. Healy Coal and Coke Company.
Besides working in the family business, Fred also volunteered for the A.R. Choate Fire Hose Company from 1935 to 1940 and ultimately became its Captain. But when World War II broke out in 1941, Healy could not remain at home and tried to reenlist in the U.S. Army, even though he was over the age of forty and considered to be too old for military service.
Despite his age, Fred somehow managed to reenlist in the Army and was again sent back to Europe to join the Allied Forces. Once back in Europe, he became a member of the 709th Tank Battalion which would partake in the June 1944 Normandy invasion. On July 27, 1944, weeks after the Allies had landed in France, the United States Army reported Private Healy to be missing in action, and on September 27, 1944, came the sad news that Fred Healy had in fact been killed in action.
On January 23, 1945, Frederick S. Healy’s brother Arthur L. Healy, a Westford selectman, received a citation from President Franklin D. Roosevelt that read:
“In grateful memory of Private Frederick S. Healy who died in the service of the country in the European area, July 27, 1944. He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die so that freedom might live and grow and increase its blessings. Freedom lives, and through it he lives in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.”
Shortly after Fred’s death, the Graniteville American Legion renamed itself the Frederick S. Healy American Legion Post 159 in Private Healy’s honor. Fred Healy was the oldest Westford Academy graduate to see service in World War II. Being over forty years of age and a veteran of World War I would certainly have kept most men from entering the military during World War II. But Mr. Healy showed exemplary courage during these times and that is why his name appears on the Post 159 American Legion in Graniteville.
Lowell Sun, December 5, 1944, p. 1, “Three Greater Lowell Soldiers killed in Action; Two Wounded.”
Lowell Sun, January 23, 1945, p. 8
Terry M. Stader: Picture of Frederick S. Healy Portrait. Fred’s portrait hanging in the Frederick S, Healy, Post #159 American Legion, Graniteville