By ROD LEE
With placement of a beautiful monument at Southbridge and Water streets in Auburn last year, Gary Conroy and his loved ones “didn’t want to forget” members of the family who had served their country.
Notable among them is Robert Conroy, who is now being further honored by the naming of the I-290 eastbound bridge over Water Street as the “Robert Conroy Memorial Bridge.”
Gary Conroy reflects on the life and heroic actions of Robert Conroy in World War II during a ceremony at the Conroy family monument in Auburn on May 26th. The “Robert Conroy Memorial Bridge” will further recognize Mr. Conroy’s relative’s sacrifice on behalf of “God and country.”
This new development can be credited to legislation filed by State Rep. Paul Frost, R-Auburn, with an assist from Michael Moore, D-Millbury; passed recently, on Beacon Hill.
As Gary Conroy pointed out during a brief ceremony at the site of the Conroy monument at the start of the Memorial Day weekend on May 26th, and with his sister Sheila among those looking on, Robert Conroy’s brief life was one of exemplary achievement.
Robert grew up “on this very land and this was the home of our construction business and we had a family farm with horses,” Mr. Conroy said.
Early on, Robert “developed his love of God and country from his experience at All Saints (Episcopal) Church” in Worcester, where he was a member of the choir and a soloist.
In an aside, Mr. Conroy mentioned that All Saints is referenced in the book “Episodes of a Real Life” by Raymond Wentworth, and that Kevin Neel, current director of the choir at All Saints, was in attendance at the ceremony.
In high school, Robert Conroy played football and baseball, was on the track team, and participated in such extracurricular activities as Glee Club.
Upon graduation in 1943, he immediately enlisted and joined the Army’s “Dog Platoon.”
Robert “was the only member of his platoon allowed to go to the war front in Italy,” in 1945. “He and his dog saved his entire patrol from ambush the night before he died. He was killed the next morning when hit by an artillery. Robert and his dog both died.”
Robert Conroy was a recipient of the Purple Heart, posthumously, for his heroic actions.
Rep. Frost and Sen. Moore both said the Robert Conroy Memorial Bridge is a fitting tribute to a man whose family’s roots in the town of Auburn are firmly entrenched.
“I want to find a way to honor” Robert Conroy’s service dog, as well,” Rep. Frost said, in thanking Sen. Moore for his help getting the bill passed, and “the Massachusetts DOT for their cooperation.”
The Massachusetts DOT will place and maintain a marker on the bridge.
In his remarks, Sen. Moore said “in seventh grade I was told by my history teacher that if we don’t honor history we repeat it. We don’t want to see another war again. Robert made the sacrifice for others.”