As we approach Independence Day we see an increase in patriotic symbols and an outpouring of gratitude for those who have served and continue to serve. Our own Chapel is no different; in it there is a stunning stain glass window of Saint Michael the Archangel, patron saint of mariners, placed over the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In front of the statue is a bronze plaque mounted to a table that many of us have walked by dozens of times; but if you take a moment to read it you will learn the courageous story of Marine Fighter Squadron 323 in World War II.
The plaque reads:
Marine Fighter Squadron 323
The restoration of the Saint Michael the Archangel Stained Glass Window in the Chapel at Emmanuel College, Boston, is dedicated as a permanent memorial to the men who served in Marine Fighter Squadron 323 during World War II.
This squadron, under the command of Lieut. General George Clifton Axtell, then a 23 year old Major, was launched from the aircraft carrier White Plains and landed on the island of Okinawa on April 7, 1945.
For its distinguished service the squadron was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation: 12 pilots were designated Ace; other decorations included 10 Navy Crosses and 32 Distinguished Flying Crosses for Service “Above and Beyond the Call of Duty”. The squadron remained in combat until the end of the campaign in June 1945. Accounting for the aerial destruction of 124 enemy aircraft and assisted in saving the United States Destroyer Henry A. Wiley.
On October 22, 1999, at a memorial service attended by surviving members from 22 states, the restored stained glass window and this bronze plaque were formally presented to Sister Janet Eisner, SND, President of Emmanuel College by 1st Lieutenant Robert F. Muse, USMC (Ret.) of Brookline, Massachusetts
2015 marks 70 years since the end of World War II, let us never forget what sacrifices have been made for this country both past and present. Happy Independence Day!