- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—DANVERS — When contractors showed up at the North Shore Community College Veterans Center in early July with a triangular flag case they found in a Peabody residence, Kristine Babcock, the college’s veterans services coordinator, had a mystery on her hands.

The case had a plaque with the name “Lionel N. Thibodeau” on it. He was a World War II veteran who lived from 1915 to 2001.

Babcock did some research on her own, but ran into a dead end.

Then, she ran a campaign on Facebook, posting a photo of the flag and the plaque, and that day, a follower of hers who lives in Beverly tracked down Thibodeau’s nephew, Wayne Plourde, 65, of Hampstead, N.H.

“It was remarkable how quickly it happened,” Babcock said.

Turns out, Plourde’s mother, Louise Plourde, 90, still lives in Peabody. She was Lionel Thibodeau’s youngest sister, and the youngest of six siblings.

“I’m glad it was found the way it was and I’m glad they contacted me,” Plourde said.

Plourde and his son, Matthieu, 17, were reunited with the flag on Thursday, July 16 at the Veterans Center on North Shore’s Danvers campus. Inside the case is the ceremonial flag presented to Thibodeau’s family after he was buried with military honors.

“He was so happy, Wayne, when he came and picked it up,” Babcock said.

Plourde’s guess is that when his aunt died in 2013, the flag was overlooked while cleaning out the Essex Green condominium where she lived. Bertha Thibodeau died at age 93 at the Rosewood Nursing and Rehabilitation center in West Peabody in June 2013, according to her obituary online.

Wayne Plourde, a retired mail handler, said he was at home when a woman called him about the flag. She had told him she had tracked down the relatives of Lionel Thibodeau online and came up with his and his mother’s names, he said.

Plourde spoke with his mother about who should keep the flag. Since his mother already had the flag of Plourde’s father, who also served during World War II, she said it was best if Plourde keep his uncle’s flag.

Babcock said she is not sure where exactly the contractors found the flag, or even why they thought to come to the community college’s veterans center, which serves student veterans but also does a fair amount of outreach. The contractors were at the center for less than a minute, telling those at the center they found it in an attic in Peabody on a job they were working on. Babcock is not sure who the contractors were, but she wanted to share the news that the flag was back with its rightful family.

“They seemed very concerned that the veteran’s flag was left behind,” Babcock said.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.


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