ATTLEBORO, Mass. — In cities and towns across New England, there are monuments to our long passed heroes, their names etched in stone for eternity.
In Attleboro, the city’s Veterans Services Director is trying to find a World War II veteran who never came home and who may never have stepped foot in Attleboro.
His name was Hugh Farren and he was killed in action when a Japanese torpedo sank his aircraft carrier, the USS Liscome Bay, on November 24, 1943, the day before Thanksgiving.
Ben Quelle is looking for Hugh’s family, because he has Hugh’s Purple Heart medal.
“I’ve been Dick Tracy for the last week, and I’m not good at that!” Quelle said.
Ben Quelle is starting from scratch — he has some basic information about Hugh’s death in military documents, but not much more.
He doesn’t even have a picture of Hugh.
We don’t know a lot about Hugh Farren’s life. But we do know he was 39 years old, an Irish immigrant living in Dorchester. In fact, his sister lived right over here at 70 Alexander Street, but the house is long gone.
Hugh’s sister’s name was Helen Doherty, she was the first person to get Hugh’s Purple Heart medal.
“This lady married and she, her lineage continued, and somehow this medal continued through her lineage and wound up here in Attleboro,” Quelle said.
The Purple Heart was recently found in the apartment of an elderly Attleboro man, now in hospice care.
Hugh Farren was one of 600 sailors who died in that 1943 attack, but he was never forgotten.
In Boston, a footbridge crossing Columbia Road, was dedicated in his honor in 1962.
Ben Quelle was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq.
Now he’s on a new mission, to return this Purple Heart to its rightful home.
“I was able to get out of combat unscathed, physically at least,” Quelle said. “This guy didn’t even make it home. It’s really my duty, it’s a military mission I’m now on and I’m not going to give up on it.”
Quelle is hoping to solve this mystery by Veteran’s Day, so that Hugh’s family can received the State’s Liberty Medal.
A lasting way to honor an ultimate sacrifice.
If you have any information that can help return Hugh Farren’s Purple Heart medal to his family, contact Ben Quelle at Attleboro City Hall: 508-223-2222 x 3281
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