SOMERVILLE, NJ – Army Air Corps Lt. Col. Robert Vaucher (Ret.) had a birds’ eye view of history shared by few who are still alive.

Now 98 years old, the former Somerville resident was in the pilot’s seat in the lead plane on Sept. 2, 1945 as a formation of 525 B-29 Flying Fortresses flew at low altitude over Tokyo Harbor; down below, on the teakwood deck of the battleship USS Missouri, US Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur accepted the formal surrender of the Japanese Empire in ceremonies that ended World War II.

Vaucher, now a resident of Bridgewater, was the keynote speaker at Friday’s Veterans Day Service in Veterans Plaza alongside the Somerset County administration building on Grove Street.

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Mayor Brian Gallagher paid homage to the dozens of veterans who attended the ceremony, asking all of those who served to step forward, give their name, branch of service and where they served. None hesitated, proud to bark out their time served. Some wore their full dress uniforms; others wore baseball caps and jackets with patches and pins attesting to their service.

Members of American Legion Post 12, Somerville, presented the colors and fired three volleys in memory of those who served; Stephen Loreti, band director at Somerville Middle School, played Taps.

The event was sponsored and organized by the Somerville War Veterans Committee.