Tuesday evening, the Waterford Recreation and Parks Commission unanimously approved renaming the duck pond within the Arnold E. Holm Jr. Memorial Park.
The meeting began with Jim Cavalieri reading a letter written by his brother and Holm's best friend, Bill Cavalieri, about Holm’s many accomplishments and awards. After, the commission unanimously agreed to rename the duck pond after Holm, and also agreed to waive the standard one-year waiting period for the name change.
“My view is (Holm) has waited 40 years, he shouldn’t have to wait any longer,” Recreation and Parks Commission Chairman Ed Murphy said.
Holm, who grew up in Waterford, while serving as a helicopter pilot in the army. His body was finally identified last year, and was .
Bill Cavalieri and other friends of Holm asked the town to rename the pond after Holm. Cavalieri also said in his letter that the group will pay for all the costs of the new signs and a granite block telling Holm’s story, and the group would also pay for the maintenance associated with the name change.
“No one individual has brought more honor to the Town of Waterford than Arnold E. Holm Jr,” Cavalieri wrote in the letter. “The story of his character, moral values, leadership and heroism will be talked about for generations to come, just as it will touch and inspire the lives of the youth of Waterford.”
According to Cavalieri’s letter, Holm was Waterford High School’s first great athlete, as he was the captain or co-captain of nine different sport teams. In his letter, Cavalieri said Holm was ultra-competitive, was always looking for the next challenge and was far more mature and wiser than other students his age.
After graduating high school, Holm earned a scholarship to Springfield College, according to the letter. But college wasn’t for him, so Holm dropped out and enlisted in the army, according to the letter.
There, he excelled, winning dozens of awards for bravery and courage, according to the letter. He eventually was promoted to Second Lieutenant, a rank almost exclusively given to people who graudate college in a military program or graduates from West Point, according to the letter.
The promotions continued, with Holm eventually being promoted to Captain, according to the letter. He also was trained to become a helicopter pilot, where he consistently volunteered himself for the most dangerous missions, Cavalieri wrote.
In 1972, at the age of 28, Holm’s helicopter was shot down, and he was killed. It would take until 2011, after Waterford High School students joined the charge, that Holm’s body was finally identified.
In November of 2011, his body was , with his daughter – who was 4 when he died, and is now a mother in her forties – and wife in attendance.
The park will still be the Civic Triangle Park, and the Arnold E. Holm Jr. Memorial Park will be the duck pond section within Civic Triangle Park, Recreation and Parks Director Brian Flaherty said. Drawings of what the signs and granite block would look like have not yet been submitted, as the group that supports the name change first wanted to get the town's approval, Jim Cavalieri said.