Charles “Gusher” Smith celebrated his 93rd birthday at a Veterans Day program at Ticonderoga Elementary School. From left are veterans Nancy Paquette, Smith, Mike Arthur, Tom Provoncha and Craig Cassidy.
Ticonderoga Charles “Gusher” Smith has proudly served for decades.
A World War II veteran, Smith has long been a civic leader in Ticonderoga — perhaps best known for his work with fellow vets and his years as the local scoutmaster.
“He’s an important fixture in our community,” Keith Barber said. “As a World War II veteran, a scoutmaster and an active community member Gusher has long served Ticonderoga.”
Smith was honored along with other veterans during a Veterans Day program at Ticonderoga Elementary School. Veterans Day, Nov. 11, just happens to be Smith’s 93rd birthday.
“I’m getting old,” Smith told Ti students, “but I can tell you Veterans Day is important. You need to know what has been done so you can live in freedom.”
The Ticonderoga Elementary School program included a panel presentation by local veterans to fifth grade classes. Sponsored by the Ti Sons of The American Legion and the school, the program also included a video.
Capping the event was a birthday cake for Smith, who was given handmade cards by the students.
“Gusher is a real treasure,” said Barber, a retired Ti teacher who organized the program for the Sons of the American Legion. “Our World War II vets are fast becoming a rarity.”
Assisting with the program were Principal John Donohue and fifth grade teachers Shelly Young and Kathy Moore.
The veterans panel included Smith, a Navy vet; Nancy Paquette, an Air Force vet who served in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm; Mike Porter, a Navy veteran of 22 years; Tom Provoncha, who served in both the Air Force and Army for a combined 26 years; and Craig Cassidy, a Vietnam era Army veteran.
“This is a wonderful program,” Young said. “I think the veterans enjoy it. I know the kids do, as well.”
Paquette spent 20 years as an administrative assistant in the Air Force. She told students military life can be rewarding.