Patrick Robitaille, a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 499, accepted the 2019 Southeastern Massachusetts Veteran of the Year Award Nov. 7 at a celebratory luncheon in Dartmouth. He is the 24th recipient of the award, bestowed by the Southeastern Massachusetts Veterans Housing Program, or Veterans Transition House.
Robitaille served in the U.S. Marine Corps from July 1966 until July 1970 in avionics and as a CH-46 helicopter door gunner with the HMM 364 “Purple Foxes.” After flying medivac and resupply missions during the 77-day siege of Hill 881 South, the Battle of Khe Sahn and the 1968 Tet Offensive, he was honorably discharged as a sergeant. Robitaille is also a Purple Heart recipient.
As a civilian, Robitaille worked with the U.S. Postal Service and supported the parish Saint Anthony of Padua Church in New Bedford. “As he had served his country, dedicated to his family and his community, so he was in his re-entry to civilian life,” a release said. “An individual of many talents, Pat is also a licensed plumber.”
As a 4th (Patriotic) degree member of The Knights of Columbus, Robitaille established a Wreaths Across America Program to honor deceased veterans. Last year, more than 300 veterans buried at the Bourne National Cemetery were honored with wreaths and ceremonies at their gravesites during the holiday season.