Veterans’ memorial rededicated after refurbishing by Scouts

MILFORD >> When Nick Foss, 17, got word that a gazebo on Milford Harbor dedicated to veterans was in desperate need of a makeover, it felt like a natural for his Eagle Scout project, given the family history.

The newly painted and cleaned up gazebo, which was rebuilt in most places through Foss’ project, was celebrated Sunday by the community in a second dedication, 24 years after the first.

Foss liked the project when it was mentioned to his Scoutmaster through Orange resident Carlyne LeBrecque, because he had heard a lot of stories about his paternal great-grandfather, John Knapp Jr., a World War II Marine veteran who served in the Pacific Theater.

Foss’ father, Ben Foss, who was Knapp’s grandson and remembers him well, said “Pop-Pop” as they called him, was not only a veteran, but an all-around great guy, who made others laugh and was quite involved in Milford civic affairs.

Nick Foss gave a little talk about his father’s awesome grandfather whom he never got to meet.

Knapp enlisted in the military Dec. 8, 1941, a day after Japan’s deadly attack on Pearl Harbor. Legend has it that Knapp went to the enlistment center intending to join the Army, but he hated waiting and the lines were shorter at the Marine area.

He went on to serve in the Pacific Theater.

Nick Foss said Scouts and veterans share many of the same qualities, including leadership, loyalty, camaraderie and bravery.

“I know Pop-Pop is looking down with an approving smile,” Nick Foss said.

Ben Foss, who helped Nick with the project, along with members of Troop 12, said they put about 250 hours into refurbishing the gazebo. The finished product reflects many material and money donations as well.

They started last midsummer and finished in late fall, but saved the dedication for Memorial Day, because of its tie to veterans and the original dedication.

Most of the gazebo had to be rebuilt with new wood, including the panels, seating and gussets. The Fosses had a cupola made for the top that is a replica of the original.

“I’m happy with how it turned out,” Ben Foss said.

Nick Foss, a junior at Foran High School, is the son of educator Sue Foss.

The gazebo is near the State Boat Launch behind Fowler Field and according to the original plaque was put there by the now-defunce Concerned Harbor Users of Milford, or CHUM.

LeBreque grew up near Milford Harbor, has visited almost daily in recent years, and said the gazebo area was a “lovely meeting place that little by little fell into disrepair.”

When she read the plaque and realized it was dedicated to veterans, LeBreque said she thought it was “very disrespectful” to let the gazebo fall to such a state. So she started making calls to the Boy Scout organization.

A new plaque added as part of the recent project reads, “With great respect and deep gratitude, we dedicate this renovation to all the men and women who have served our country.”

Thomas C. Flowers, left, chairman of the Milford Veterans, Ceremony and Parade Commission, thanked Nick Foss and the Scout organization, and while introducing Mayor Benjamin G. Blake, reminded the crowd that Milford is known as “The Little City with Big Heart.”

Blake said he is delighted with the upgrade because he often walks to the area of the gazebo, as he lives nearby and likes to see for himself that all is good in the harbor.

“You’ve brought great pride to our community,” Blake told Nick Foss and the Scouts.