John G. Lavertu, 91, of Franklin, died at his home on July 1, 2021.
He was born in Laconia the son of John W. Lavertu and Alma (Baron) Lavertu. John was a lifelong Franklin resident.
John joined the New Hampshire National Guard in 1948 and became a member of the 744th Anti- Aircraft Artillery battery in Franklin, NH. He attended weekly training drills and went to summer training at Camp Wellfleet, MA for 10 years where he learned the duties of firing the 90 mm anti- aircraft gun, He progressed in rank from private to Sergeant first class.
In 1959, the Franklin unit reorganized and became Battery A, 1st Battalion, 197th Artillery. John became Chief of Firing Battery ("Smokey") with six howitzer sections under his command. With the change to field artillery, John was a key contributor to the men learning to shoot and move the 155 mm howitzers.
The summer camp location changed to Camp Drum, NY where the unit spent most their two weeks active-duty training in the field. During this training, the unit competed with seven other battalion teams in the operation of the howitzers and won a best unit award. John and his men deserve the credit for this achievement.
In April 1968, the unit now designated as C battery, 3/197th Arty got activated and assigned to train at Ft Bragg, NC for five months prior to deployment in Vietnam. At Ft Bragg, the battery and the battalion passed the army training tests which allowed them to stay as a unit when deployed to Vietnam for a one-year tour of duty. During the year in Vietnam the battalion fired over 150,000 rounds in support of combat missions. C battery and John's howitzers had a large part of those missions. The unit had a record of accurate and timely fire.
Upon one occasion, an infantry soldier from Concord, NH was deep in the jungle with his position being overrun by Viet Cong. Coordinates of the attack were radioed to the 3rd Battalion, 197th artillery. Minutes later the unit had a direct hit and the enemy was neutralized. 40 years later the infantry soldier told his story to a group of 197th artillery veterans. His quote "you guys were unbelievable, right on the money every time" he said holding up a map from the battle with the coordinates still in grease pencil. "I owe my existence to the 197th", he said.
John Lavertu was and excellent soldier, a dedicated leader and a strong contributor to the units' mission.
Several years ago, John was employed at Sulloway Hosiery Co. and Hebert’s Foundry. He later worked as custodian and friend to many at the former St. Mary School in Franklin for more than 40 years. He continued to work at St. Gabriel Parish into his 80’s.
John enjoyed his family and seasonal camping in Holderness for many years.
Family members include his wife of 70 years, Charlotte (Clifford) Lavertu of Franklin, 7 children: Susan LaFlamme and husband Richard of Bristol, Richard and wife Jackie of Franklin, Kenneth Lavertu and wife Robin of Colorado, Brenda Clough of Colorado, Kathy Charbono and husband Tom of Franklin, Debra Unruh and husband Doug of Indiana, and Michael Lavertu of Franklin, 17 grandchildren, and many great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents and a brother, Joseph Lavertu.
Private services with Military Honors will be held at NH Veteran in Boscawen.
Thibault-Neun Funeral Home in Franklin is assisting John’s family. For an online guestbook please visit www.neunfuneralhomes.com