HISTORY of the ARMED FORCES COMMITTEE of WORCESTER COUNTY
Following World War I, a local group of veterans started the Army-Navy Dinner Committee. The goal was to foster patriotism and comradeship by annually sponsoring a dinner, which honored the military in our community.
Through the years the committee gathered support from active duty personnel as well as Reserves of Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Army & Air National Guard, and the ROTC units from a consortium of colleges. Veterans of Korea, Viet Nam, Desert Storm and other recent conflicts have joined their older comrades of World War I and World War II in supporting the goals of the committee.
In 1953 the name of the group was changed to “Armed Forces Committee of Worcester County, Inc.” to reflect the expanded membership. Each year a different branch of the service is honored.
Since 1958, the committee has presented the prestigious Award of Merit at the Annual Dinner. The selection, made by the Board of Directors, is based upon significant contributions usually over a long period, to the overall welfare of the military, the veterans, and the civilian community.
Since 1973 the committee has presented an Outstanding NCO Award at the Annual Dinner. The branch of the service being honored makes the selection. It is based upon outstanding performance to the service, and involvement in the community.
The committee also honors the outstanding cadet of the Army, Navy, and Air Force ROTC units at our local colleges and selected JROTC units at Worcester County High Schools. The plaques are presented by a member of our committee at the President’s Review at College of the Holy Cross and WPI each spring and at ceremonies at the participating High Schools.
Notable keynote speakers for our annual dinner included:
- Major General Gary W. Keefe, Adjutant General MA National Guard
- Francisco A. Urena, Secretary of Veterans’ Services for MA
- Eddie Rickenbacker WW I Naval Ace and Medal of Honor Winner
- Felix Von Luckner, German Nobleman, Naval Officer & Author
- (Army) Lieutenant General Hugh A Drum (Fort Drum was named in his honor)
- (USMC) Maj Gen John A Lejeune (Camp Lejeune was named in his honor)
- Army Maj Gen Clarence B Edwards (Camp Edwards was named in his honor)
The original Army-Navy Dinner was held at the (then) Bancroft Hotel located at the corner of Franklin and Portland Street. The hotel, at that time was Worcester’s 5 star hotel. The AFC had a number of venues where it held its yearly gathering;
- Watchusett Country Club
- Pleasant Valley Country Club
- Sheraton Lincoln Hotel
- Hogan center- College of the Holy Cross
- Knights of Columbus Center- Shrewsbury
- Our Lady of Mt Carmel Center
- El Morocco, Worcester
- Val’s Restaurant and Lounge – Holden, MA