Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 05-22-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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PAWTUCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | MAY 22-28, 2019 THE VALLEY 17 the sky. "Then I realized I was in for a storm. Below me were what looked like good fields to land in but I would have been isolated had I landed there and besides they don't like it if you land in the country and leave the machine to stand in the rain, etc. I decided to keep on and trust that I would reach my destination before the trouble began." His course by that time had been some- what changed as he had lost his way on the map and was steering by compass. He wrote that he was "rocked and tossed around like a ship in an angry sea and way down below me I saw a mist settling on the ground which would in a few minutes completely shut off from sight everything that was underneath me. I had only to go on." And then, a scenario "nothing less than hell" happened, as a heavy rainstorm beat against his face, feeling "like so many bul- lets" and nearly blinding him. "Finally, I got along by shutting my eyes and then opening them for a short time. Thank the Lord, my destination was not far away," he wrote. "When I thought it was time to go down, I just tipped the old bus right down on nose and headed for good old mother earth." He landed at a nearby Belgian aviation camp. "This game of war isn't what it's cracked up to be. Much love," he wrote. Stearns served until May 1918 when he received a furlough from France and then entered the U.S. Service of the Marine Flying Corps. He was sent to Florida as second lieutenant but honorably discharged on account of a "nervous breakdown" that today would have been referred to as PTSD. About two decades later, Stearns was in Aiken, South Carolina, when he died sud- denly in 1938 of what the official death certificate terms as "status epilepticus," a prolonged seizure that can be caused by a number of conditions. His sister Margaret would continue life as an unmarried woman much loved in the Arnold Mills area where she summered at The Elms on Abbott Run Valley Road. The community house she donated served as both a village library and meeting hall for local groups including the Cumberlandites. She died in 1977 and like her brothers, was buried at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence. Included among the property donations she made to Arnold Mills was the land for the fire station where her brother's monu- ment was erected. From preceding page BREEZE PHOTOS BY ROBERT EMERSON JOSH DIDICK, left, and DANIEL O'FLAHERTY, of Total Landscaping, positioned the memorial close to the Arnold Mills Community House on May 9. The MEMORIAL to the late Lt. Russell Falconer Stearns, which for years sat at the Arnold Mills Fire Station, reaches its final resting place at the Arnold Mills Community House.

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