Friendship is a unique bond strengthened by shared experiences and understanding. For the members of Tequesta Terrace Assisted Living’s veterans’ group it’s this special bond that has made the group’s monthly gatherings an outlet for continued growth and learning. Once a month on a Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m., the group’s members come together at the senior living community (400 N US Highway 1) to discuss their day-to-day activities and stories of their time in the military, sharing how their unique experiences impacted their lives. For many of the group’s members, this is one of the few places they feel comfortable sharing their most personal memories, doing so only because the men gathered with them went through similar journeys. The group meets thanks to the dedication of local volunteer Michelle Andrews. Andrews was contacted by Tequesta Terrace to help found the group in hopes of providing an opportunity for resident veterans to connect with one another. During the group’s meetings, attendees hold open discussion on various topics they wish to learn more about in addition to sharing their own experiences.
“Helping to make this group possible has been incredibly impactful,” said Andrews. “It is powerful to witness how these men connect with one another. Many of the oldest veterans have never told their stories, believing they were simply doing their job and leaving it at that. However, it is truly special to provide an outlet for them to open up and share their personal memories and feelings from their service. It’s been a privilege to get to know each one of these men and hear a firsthand account of history. The meetings are always lively, with the occasional disagreement and plenty of laughter.”
The veterans’ group provides members with a sense of comradery, but for members like Ray Palleschi, it also offers opportunities to continue learning and gain a stronger understanding and appreciation for the wars he never experienced firsthand such as the Korean and Vietnam wars. A veteran of World War II, Palleschi enlisted in the Army Air Corp on October 19, 1942, when he was 18 years old. After receiving his initial training, he was stationed in Saipan, Mariana Island, where he served until being discharged on November 26, 1945. Palleschi was a member of the 873rd bombing group working with the communications division to communicate between the Mariana Islands. At the age of 94, Palleschi says that he can remember everything vividly, particularly how the enemy Japanese planes would strafe the air base and its barracks. He recalls laying in his cot once when the barracks were fired upon, and he felt incredibly lucky to have not been hit. While he escaped the attack, he did suffer an injury after jumping from the tent platform and breaking his ribs. He finds it easier to share these memories with others after first talking them through with the rest of the group.
“Having the opportunity to serve my country was a special time in my life, and having the ability to share my experiences with those who understand them has been wonderful,” said Palleschi. “In preparation for the meetings, I will research and assemble an interesting and relevant discussion topic for us discuss together. Doing this has allowed all of us to touch on various aspects of our service and the wars we served in with unique and personal perspectives. We all come from different backgrounds and military branches and it makes for something truly remarkable. For those like me who served during World War II, it’s more important now than ever to share our own stories and ensure that future generations learn from them. In some ways, this group helps us ensure our tales live on.”
With almost 30 veterans who call Tequesta Terrace home, the community understands the importance of recognizing its veterans and thanking them for their service. It’s for this reason the community will soon take the veterans group to the Tequesta Firefighters and Tequesta Brewing Company’s 8th Annual Chili Cook-Off and Beer Tasting event, where they will be recognized by the local community for their military service. During the event 60 veterans from World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, along with wounded warriors and Gold Star families will be honored. This community-wide event will take place on Saturday, November 10th from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Paradise Park, located at One Main Street in Tequesta. All proceeds from the event go to veterans and public safety charities, including Honor Flight, Operation 300, Tequesta Friends of Public Safety and the Renewal Coalition. For Station 85 Lieutenant David McGovern, honoring the veterans from Tequesta Terrace is particularly meaningful as the station has a close relationship with Tequesta Terrace and the veterans at the senior living community.
“It’s our honor to celebrate the men and women who have served in the military,” said McGovern. “Each year we’ve had the opportunity to recognize these incredible individuals and are proud to do so as a community. Over the years, Tequesta Terrace has been a wonderful partner for the event, and an even better neighbor. This year we will be honoring our local veterans, and we hope everyone can come out to join us as we pay tribute to those who made all of this possible.”
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to celebrate our veteran residents and share a very special group of men with the greater community,” said Shawn Gibbons, executive director of Tequesta Terrace. “Veterans Day is a powerful reminder for all of us that our freedom comes at a cost, and it’s the least we can do to thank the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for the safety of the United States. Our community veteran’s group is an inspiration to all of us, not only for their service but their continued dedication to education.”