Remembering Cpl. Edmund Vandecasteele

by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz


Patriot Guard at St. Matthew’s Church

Corporal Edmund Vandecasteele IV, a Salem native, wanted to be a marine since the young age of 12, a dream he lived up to, making his mother and friends so very proud of his enlistment in the U.S Marine Corps, during September of 2006.

“As a young kid, he just set his mind to it, that was it,” said Lisa Desrosiers, Vandecasteele’s mother.  “Eddie would take in any and all information he could, whether about weapons, the code, whatever, he just absorbed it, took it all in.”

Vandecasteele was killed in a tragic motor vehicle accident on August 1 in San Clemente, California near Camp Pendleton where he was stationed and is being remembered fondly in his hometown as a humorous and extremely brave young man who had such a huge heart, with so much love inside of him to give.

“He was a very dedicated young man, and I have received many compliments from a variety of Marine Corps officials who say he became an outstanding marine,” said Desrosiers.

Corporal Edmund Vandecasteele IV, 22 of Salem was riding in the passenger seat of a 2003 Ford Mustang driven by a fellow marine when the driver lost control of the vehicle, striking a tree.  Vandecasteele was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver, Andrew Stueber, 24 sustained life-threatening head injuries according to Orange County officials, while two other marines in the vehicle were not injured.  Speed and alcohol appear to be factors in the crash.  Orange County officials say that Stueber will likely face motor vehicle manslaughter charges if he survives.

Cpl. Vandecasteele was a distinguished young soldier who was an ammunitions technician with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, who had also earned several medals; the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Sea Service Deployment ribbon.

Cpl. Vandecasteele was a 2006 graduate of Salem High School, and enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps just three months after graduating high school.  He attended boot camp in Parris Island, SC and completed his Marine Corps Training at Camp Lejeune, NC.  Cpl. Vandecasteele then completed his ammunitions training at Red Stone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL.  Following his training he was stationed for two years at Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan where he was in Ammo Company, 3rd Supply Battalion.

“He volunteered three times to go to Iraq.  He didn’t go, as he was needed in Japan.  He was in charge of ammunitions in the Pacific, which is why he was needed there,” Desrosiers said.

During his time on the island of Okinawa, which is located about 1,000 miles from Tokyo he was an Ammunition Technician, Camp Guard, and a certified swim instructor, also obtaining his scuba diving certification.  During his downtime Cpl. Vandecasteele enjoyed, movies, video games, music, model cars, sports, and was an avid New England Patriots fan.  He also enjoyed being with his friends and family, who will never forget him.

“We are devastated.  It still doesn’t seem real.  We are a very close family, with a huge piece missing,” said Desrosiers.  “I’m proud of him as a Marine, but I am most proud that he was my son.  He was the best son a mother could ever, ever wish for,” she added.

Funeral services for Cpl. Vandecasteele were held Monday.  Lisa Desrosiers wishes to thank the police officers, firefighters and individuals who honored her son during his final trip home.  “I have just no words to express my gratitude to them.  When he was escorted home to Logan Airport an Admiral in First Class on the plane gave up his seat for Eddie’s escort, so he could ride first class, as the plane’s Captain announced the escort of a marine to his final resting place – home.  And when I saw all the police officers and firefighters and individuals out on the side of the roads in Salem and Windham, saluting him, just honoring my son, I can’t describe how honored I felt,” she said.

Cpl. Vandecasteele’s family encourages those who wish to make a donation in honor of him to do so in Eddie’s name to:  Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, 18251 Quantico Gateway Drive, Trangle, VA 22172.


Fire Department at Searles Chapel

Salem’s Got Talent!

by Robyn Hatch

Kelley Library presented ‘Salem’s Got Talent’ show to a full house and very talented and excited contestants.  If you could sing, dance, juggle, or tell jokes, you could easily be in this show.  Judging was based on stage presence, originality, and audience response.  The judges were Chris Colella (a well-known band person in town) and Cindy Lord and Elizabeth Oedel (Kelley Library workers); they were given the hard job of deciding the winners.  First place walked away with an iPod, and second and third place received Canobie Lake passes.  Everyone walked away with medals, pencils, and little reminders of the contest.

First place winner was Melissa St. Cyr, who danced her way to the audience with her little half-pint size and energy.  Second place winner was Davis Sprague, who wrote and performed a guitar number; this contestant easily has a future with his style and talent.  Third place winner was little Danielle Demers, who danced her way to the judges’ hearts with her cute innocence.  All of the songs were well-performed and the dances were out-of-this-world.  Since the judges had to come up with three winners, they acknowledged that everyone was talented in their own way.  Salem really does have talent!


Danielle Demers - singing and dancing


Melissa St. Cyr - all dance


Melissa St. Cyr - a tiny bundle of energy


Savannah Reddy - performing a Hannah Montana number


Elaina and Julia Bourgoin, Shea Maran, Tyler, and English (with the funny face)


Davis Sprague - singing and playing to a song he wrote

Ho Down!

by Robyn Hatch

The Senior Center had a giant Ho Down, complete with cowboy costumes and hats, with Jason McCollin leading the crowd.  Jason’s a very talented dancer, and he’s an even better instructor — a dancing machine whom the seniors love and respect!  The group loved this dancing excitement and participation.  There wasn’t a minute when everyone just sat down and did nothing.


The Senior Center Square Dancers


Ladies - doing well

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