CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Captain James McInerney has served our nation his whole life. He was a Prisoner of War in Korea, and when he was released, he reenlisted for Vietnam. In retirement, Captain McInerney helps veterans. That’s why he earned this year’s Charles H. Tracy Award. “It’s just pretty much an honor. I didn’t expect it,” he told 22News.
The Charles H. Tracy Award honors Sergeant Charles H. Tracy who was a soldier during the American Civil War and received the Medal of Honor for two acts of bravery. Tracy was born in Jewett City, Connecticut but moved to Chicopee with his wife around 1853. The award is given out each Memorial Day weekend – a time we’re asked to remember the sacrifice Sergeant Tracy, Captain McInerney and so many others made for our country.
When asked what Memorial Day means to him, Captain McInerney said it had deep meaning, “It means a lot to me. It means a lot to all the people I knew. I don’t want to talk about that.”
The City of Chicopee has a long history of military appreciation and importance. Westover Air Reserve Base is located in the city as are many organizations that help our veterans.
Westover Air Reserve Base Commander, Brigadier General Jay Jensen was humbled by the award ceremony Thursday morning at Chicopee City Hall. “We still need to remember that there are people out there on the frontlines today defending our nation against people who are truly our nation’s enemies,” said Jensen, “I hope people take the time to realize what so few have given for so many.”
“Just a very special time to just to pause and remember and more so than that to also just realize that a lot of things that we may take for granted, we really shouldn’t be,” Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos told 22News.
It’s a reminder to everyone as they head out on the roads for a long weekend of cookouts and vacation.