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Loomis News

WWII veteran Takes Honor Flight

When Felix Salzano, formerly of West Springfield and now a resident of Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing in Springfield, first heard a presentation at the retirement community about the now-renowned Honor flight program that provides free escorted trips for veterans to war memorials  in Washington, D.C., he was eager to sign up.

Felix-Salzano-WWII-Veteran-Living-Loomis-LakesideSalzano, who has the rare distinction of having served in both the European and Pacific theateres during World War II, submitted his application right away to be hosted on an Honor Flight trip and was quickly accepted.

As he's lived alone after the passing of his wife some years ago, he figured he would wait to join some of the handful of World War II veterans who live at one of the three Loomis retirement communities in the Pioneer Valley on the Honor Flight. Each honoree must have an escort to join them, usually a family member. Whenno other World War II-era vets immediately came forward, he put the idea aside for a year and a half.

Deciding to delay no longer, the 94-year-old joined more than 70 World War II veterans from throughout New England in September on the Honor Flight out of Logan International Airport, escorted by his cousin, Michael Kociela, who lives in Montaque. There, Salzano experienced a thankful nation's gift that celebrates World War II veterans like him honiring them with a hero's send-off for escorted visits to the nation's war memorials and to Arlington National Cemetery.

Felix Salzano visiting WW II Memorial in DCAccording to Salzano, whose humility is obvious to a visitor and reflective of many in the Word War II :Greatest Generation," it was a seminal moment. "It was so emotional, I cried," he said about the military band send-off at Logan that included military families and their children expressing their thanks individually to each of the Honor Flight passengers.

"I was so excited I couldn't sleep on the plane. And, I am very, very happy that I made the trip" he added.

Robert Gasque, who is one the driers serving residents at Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing, was assigned to drive Salzano to Logan. Worried about making sure he arrived at the appointed time, Gasque did a test run the day before between Springfield and Boston to ensure he would be there in time. Gasque also lost a loved one the day before, but still found the care and compassion to help Salzano make it to Boston, arriving for pick-up at the retirement community at 2:30 a.m.

Landing in Baltimore on a commercial flight filled with Honor Flight participants, three busloads headed to Washington, and, once arriving in the capital, police escorted the entourage, stopping traffic at each intersection to allow the convoy to pass national monuments and Arlington.

?It was hard to express my appreciation, knowing so many served and didn't come back hoe," Salzano said about the experience of visiting the World War II, Korean and Vietnam memorials.

While the whirlwind trip to D.C. and back in one day was daunting, Salzano andGasque left Springfield at 3 a.m. and a van and driver provided by Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing picked Salzano up at Logan at 10:30 p.m. that evening. "I'm so glad I made it. I felt inspired."

The experience evoked a flood of memories for Salzano. A communications specialist who laid telephone lines to connect U.S. troops, he remembers most of his wartime service was spent in Germany as Allied forces closed in on Berlin. He recalls Germany's defeat in the European theater and how he received new orders deploying him to the Pacific for the planned invasion of Japan. He was part of the first 20,000 troops redeployed from Europe to the Pacific.

"We got our orders to go to the Pacific and left France by ship. I remember when we arrived at the Panama Canal they let us off the ship to have ice cream," Salzano said. "We were at sea for 39 days and I never saw so many ships in my life. I said at the time, if we put each ship end-to-end we could walk home to the United States."

With the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Augusy 1945, Salzano received the bulletin in the Philippines soon after tat the was was over.

While the Honor Flight offered an opportunity for the nation the thank Salzano, he remains deeply appreciative for all that America has provided him. He recalls coming to the United States from Italy when he was 15 years old to join his father, an earlier immigrant and a railroad foreman in Chester. He learned that his father's service in World War I afforded Felix and his mother U.S. citizenship  when they joined him in America.

Asked what he thinks about now in reflecting on the Honor Flight and his experience in Washington, Felix simply says, "The honor to serve our country."

Reposted with Permission by Paul Robbins

Published in The Republican Plus from Wednesday January 17, 2018

About The Loomis Communities:

The Loomis Communities has been a visionary in exceptional senior living throughout the scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. It was the first organization in the state to open a continuing care retirement community.

With a mission of enriching the lives of older adults, The Loomis Communities offers independent living apartments and cottages, assisted living and skilled nursing care on three campuses in the Pioneer Valley: Applewood in Amherst, Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing in Springfield, and Loomis Village in South Hadley.

For more information, call us.

Applewood: 413-253-9833
Loomis Village: 413-588-5102
Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing: 413-355-5803
or send us a note through our Contact Us form.

Independent Living

Independent Living Homes and Apartments


What is independent living?

Independent living is available at the following Loomis Communities:

When referring to retirement communities, independent living describes a house or apartment home in an age-restricted community setting designed for older adults who are able to manage their homes and daily activities without supervision or medical assistance. Independent living can be offered as an apartment in a stand-alone building, or as part of a larger community with a wide range of services, including access to a continuum of health care should you need those services in the future.

Our independent living apartments, villas, and cottages set the standard for distinctive retirement living. Residents enjoy a maintenance-free lifestyle in a spacious, thoughtfully designed homes. Comfort and peace of mind are the focus of our independent living homes, with features such as a private balcony or patio, lovely views, a well-equipped kitchen, generous closets and storage, and many other amenities.

A wide selection of independent living apartments and homes is available at all of The Loomis Communities. Whichever of our communities you choose, you’ll find neighbors who become friends, and plenty of space for your treasured possessions. The Loomis Communities offers everything you need to create a healthy, happy, active retirement.

Assisted Living

Assisted Living


What is assisted living?

Assisted living is available at the following Loomis Communities:

Assisted living offers a middle ground between independent living and nursing care. Assisted living is a good choice for you if you do not require the extensive medical care provided in nursing care but are not able to manage living on your own. Staff is available to provide 24-hour comprehensive assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as dressing, grooming, eating, mobility and hygiene. A variety of activities and social events, as well as transportation, cleaning, and laundry services, also are typical features of assisted living. The Loomis Communities provides assisted living as part of a comprehensive continuum of care, while many organizations only provide one level of assistance.

Our assisted living features private apartments that residents furnish with their own personal treasures, providing all the comforts of home. Our studio and one-bedroom apartments provide a place where residents who need a little help with the activities of daily living (ADLs) can truly enjoy life. Caregivers are available to help residents with activities such as dressing, bathing, grooming, and medication management. The intimate residential design of assisted living allows our staff to get to know and understand the needs and desires of residents and their families.

Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation

Skilled Nursing Care


What do all these terms mean: home care, skilled nursing care, licensed skilled care, and long-term care?

Skilled nursing care and rehabilitation are available at the following Loomis Community:

Nursing homes are licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and offer furnished rooms and health services to residents who require consistent and ongoing medical care with physician oversight but do not require hospitalization. This is called skilled nursing care. Our communities provide skilled nursing care, which includes post-hospital care, short-term rehabilitation, complex medical care, and long-term care. Oversight is provided by licensed professional nurses, nurse practitioners, and physicians. A comprehensive therapy department is staffed by physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists. The Loomis Communities nursing homes are designed to meet the individual needs of the residents.

Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing offers licensed, skilled nursing care in a cozy and supportive environment. Both our nursing centers are Medicare and Medicaid-certified and provide short-term rehabilitation and long-term care in well-appointed private or semi-private rooms. The Loomis House nursing center also offers specialized dementia care. Our compassionate staff delivers care with respect and dignity.


What is rehabilitation, skilled rehabilitation, or short-term rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation is available at the following Loomis Community:

The Loomis Communities offer rehabilitation services with a staff of professionals. Our physical and occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, registered dieticians, registered nurses, licensed social workers, and gourmet chefs, work as a team to get you back home. We complete a comprehensive assessment to develop individualized care plans to manage residents’ physical, social, and emotional concerns.

Our unique approach promotes independence and a rapid return home after rehabilitation from a broad range of surgical procedures, injuries, and illness.

Our nursing center, Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing is Medicare and Medicaid-certified, and provides short-term rehabilitation and long-term care in well-appointed private or semi-private rooms. Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing received a 5-year accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) in Person-Centered Long-term Care. This mark of excellence means that we have been recognized as a provider of quality care for your loved one that meets state-of-the-art, international standards of performance.

To learn more about rehabilitation at the Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing nursing center, please contact:

Gabrielle Thomes,
413-782-1800, ext. 5850, or

Applewood Senior Independent Living in Amherst MA
Loomis Lakeside CCRC Springfield MA
Loomis Village Senior Living South Hadley