When Robert Bolt wrote his iconic A Man for All Seasons about Sir Thomas More, he could have easily been describing Patrick Robitaille and William Eccles. Both of these local champions of honor and courage are men for all occasions, whether happy or serious.

Mr. Robitaille was selected as the 2019 Southeastern Massachusetts Veteran of the Year. Mr. Eccles was awarded The Champion of Veterans to honor his volunteer service. Both men have many talents.

Patrick Robitaille served in the U.S. Marine Corps in "Avionics," as well as being a CH-46 door gunner with HMM 364, also known as The Purple Foxes, a highly decorated helicopter squadron in the Southeast Asian Theatre during the Vietnam War. After flying medevac and resupply missions during the 77-day siege of Hill 881 South, during the 1968 Tet Offensive, he was honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant (E-5). Having been wounded in combat, Mr. Robitaille is also a Purple Heart recipient.

Mr. Robitaille is a licensed plumber who has helped fellow veterans with plumbing situations, a member of The Knights of Columbus and he established the Wreaths Across America Program within his council. Through his tireless efforts, six hundred veterans buried at the Bourne National Cemetery were honored with wreaths and ceremonies at their gravesites during the Christmas season.

William Eccles Jr., president and CEO of Bank Five, a long-time supporter of the Veterans Transition House, was chosen to receive the Champion of Veterans Award to honor his volunteer service as chairman of the "Building Hope for Heroes" $1.3 million capital campaign, and for personally raising more than $500,000 in funding for VTH.

It was my honor to help celebrate these two bravehearts at the 24th Southeastern Massachusetts Veteran of the Year Award ceremony, thanks to Jim Reid, Executive Director of VTH, and his staff and Board of Directors.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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