More than 70 years after his heroic actions, one of Wilton’s veterans — a member of the “Greatest Generation” — will gain the recognition that comes with having a road named after him.
The Wilton community is invited to a ceremony dedicating a portion of Route 106 as the newly named “Air Force First Lieutenant Charles M. Baffo Memorial Highway.” The ceremony will take place Thursday, Oct. 1, 11 a.m., at Old Town Hall, 68 Ridgefield Road.
Among those attending will be the hosts, State Reps. Gail Lavielle (R-143) and Tom O’Dea (R-125), Honorary French Consul Isabelle Evelein, veterans and elected officials. It will be followed by a reception with light refreshments.
A Wilton resident for more than 40 years, Charles M. Baffo was a first lieutenant of the U.S. Army Air Force who fought in the Allied invasion of Normandy. He received multiple American military decorations during World War II, and last year, in a testament to the exceptional character of his service, the French government awarded him the Croix de Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.
To commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion last year, the French government announced it would accept applications for the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest honor, from Americans who had participated in the Allied invasion that led to the ultimate liberation of France. Only those veterans still living could be awarded the distinction.
Although Baffo unfortunately died Oct. 17, 2014 —within weeks of a decision being made on his application — the French government, in a very rare move, awarded him the decoration posthumously because of his extraordinary actions. The ceremony will recall the story of his wartime actions when he was able to safely land his plane, flying over a densely populated area of France and laden with bombs, after it had been crippled by German fire.
Next Thursday’s ceremony follows the passage of legislation introduced by Lavielle and O’Dea during the 2015 legislative session. Commemorative signs will be installed on Route 106 in Wilton during the coming weeks.