The governor’s announcement and reflections on the ROTC

Obviously, the biggest recent news in Concord was Gov. John Lynch’s announcement that he is not running for a fifth term when his present term expires in 16 months. This means there will be an open seat for governor in a presidential election year, and there is no U.S. Senate election at that time — an interesting political dynamic.It will take a little time to digest this historic development.*****The New Hampshire Union Leader reported the obituary of Pierre D. Boy on Sept. 14. This got me thinking about the place of ROTC at the University of New Hampshire, colleges in general, the importance of soldiers of Boy’s generation, and the debt we owe servicemen and women in general. These reflections were especially poignant the week after the 10th anniversary of September 11th.Pierre Donald Boy, a retired U.S. Army colonel, was 97 when he died at home in Nottingham. He was born in Canada in 1914 and soon moved to Berlin, N.H., where he graduated from high school. He worked for the Brown Paper Company in Berlin, as did many Franco-Americans of his generation, until he could save enough money to go to UNH, from which he was graduated in 1939.In those days, all male students had to be members of the Reserve Officers Training Corps, at least for their first two years. Boy stayed for four and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army upon graduation. Three years later, my father, Richard F. Cook, was commissioned a second lieutenant at UNH, six months after Pearl Harbor.Once in the Army, “PI,” as he was known, served in Panama and Trinidad and Tobago after Pearl Harbor. Later, he served in Europe with the 12th Army Group and finished the war with the rank of lieutenant colonel.He made a career in the Army, retiring in 1969 after 30 years of service, the last few of which were as the “professor of military science” in the UNH ROTC program.After his retirement, Boy was named director of alumni affairs at UNH, a post he held for many years. After he retired from that job, he stayed actively involved with the university right up until his death.His predecessor in the UNH alumni job, Burnell V. Bryant, had been the professor of military science at the time Boy, my father and many others went through ROTC, and it may have been his tour of the UNH campus that persuaded me to go to UNH.(As an aside, PI Boy always pointed out to people from Manchester that his relatives ran “Boy’s Market” in the north end of Manchester, and he was sure the students were familiar with it.)In 1966, when I entered the University of New Hampshire, I joined ROTC and was commissioned upon graduation, as well. Those who went through ROTC in the mid to late 1960s, did so at the time of the Vietnam War, with all of its attendant controversy. It is interesting to note members of the Cadet Officer Corps during that period of time at UNH. With apologies to those who are not on the following list, many distinguished New Hampshirites were in the group, including former Gov. Steve Merrill and attorneys James Hood and Alan Cleveland.In the 1960s, ROTC was controversial because the war was controversial, and many campuses expelled the ROTC program at the urging of student demonstrators. In New Hampshire, we had the debate, but ROTC remained, as it does to this day as an important opportunity for young people. Unfortunately, Dartmouth severed its ROTC relationship.Colonel Boy and his comrades deserve our thanks. He had a long life of service to the University of New Hampshire, the United States of America and the Army. His family saw to it that he could remain at home to the very end.In the current wars in which the United States is involved, a disproportionate number of National Guard and Reserve troops are called upon to fight. There is a difference between them and the regular Army or Active Reserve Army who have fought prior wars, since the current service members’ dependents generally are among the general population and not living on military bases with the kind of support offered there.In the face of this challenge, a number of notable support organizations have arisen. New Hampshire should be proud that the Veterans Count Club, a joint effort of the New Hampshire National Guard, the Department of Health and Human Services and Easter Seals New Hampshire, has stepped up to support returning troops, departing troops, families, children and others associated with and left unsupported when troops depart on active duty.This effort now is being emulated elsewhere in the country. To learn more about how you can support those serving in the military today, Google “Easter Seals New Hampshire Veterans Count Club” to see what that organization does and how you can help it.Colonel Boy would be proud!Brad Cook, a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green, heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He also serves as secretary of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.