Prunier Aboard USNS Comfort  
Thursday, May 8, 2003


MAY 8 TELEGRAM & GAZETTE
So I've Heard Column


A U.S. Navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, has a Charlton presence in Operation Iraqi Freedom, providing medical care for wounded and sick U.S. and coalition troops, prisoners of war and Iraqi civilians.
Lt. Commander Gregory James Prunier is the Medical Supply Officer aboard the 1,000-bed sea going hospital. Equipped with 12 operating rooms, and a full battery of medical services, the ship has been plying the Arabian Sea, probably since outbreak of the war.
LCDR Prunier, with 23 years service, enlisted in the Navy as a senior at Shepherd Hill Regional High School. He was in one of the Dudley-Charlton District's first graduating classes.
"You wouldn't think that a sand storm could be in the ocean," LCDR Prunier said in a recent message to his father, Edward Prunier of Worcester Road, Webster. "We became a brown ship until we washed it off."
He couldn't comment on numbers but LCDR Prunier subsequently provided his father and family members with a news release that fixed Comfort's surgical caseload through April 13 at 61 percent enemy prisoners of war, 28 percent U.S. and Coalition troops and 11 percent Iraqi civilians.
"Our mission has changed," Charlton native Prunier said in an April 22 message to family members. Instead of emergency service the emphasis was on healing.
LCDR Prunier went into the Navy as a white hat, served through the ranks, became a Chief Petty Officer, and a commissioned officer, according to his father. He received a bachelor degree from George Washington University and is candidate for a master degree from the University of Connecticut.
Most of LCDR Prunier's service has been at Naval stations such as Newport, R.I., in Texas and elsewhere, according to his father. He was assigned to a submarine at one point but it was in dry dock through most of his time on its duty roster. "This is his first time on a ship," said Edward Prunier.
LCDR Prunier is married to the former Paula Sind, an investigator with a national agency. They have two children Edward and Chelsea, both pre-teeners, and live in Germantown, Md.
As an aside, I've come to know Edward Prunier by sight since he moved to Webster 6 years ago, thinking we had met but never making the connection. He filled in the blanks last week. Mr. Prunier was a Charlton member of the Shepherd Hill Regional High School Building Committee.
-oOo-
Claims sometime drift into limbo. This one goes back to the removal of three original Slater Co. tenement houses on South Main Street.
Everett K. Olds commented at the time, claiming other tenement buildings were once located behind the old properties. Rummaging through some old records last week, I found that American Woolen Co., successors through 1954 to S. Slater & Sons at South Village, decided in September 1929 to get rid of their mostly vacant tenement houses on Peter Street. They were sold for salvage. The industry had previously disposed of 29 company houses acquired in the 1923 purchase of Slater's woolen mill.
The American Woolen was taxed for 6 multi family houses on Peter Street, according to property valuations for 1928. A directory for the same year says, "Peter Street (extends) from South Main Street westerly to the (French) river." This placed the tenements right behind the properties razed some time ago, confirming Mr. Olds' claim.
A Peter Street marker still sits on South Main Street, but near Peter Bannister's tire store. The original would have been up a ways, next to what is now the 19th Hole and Nap's Diner. The Board of Registrars street list, with the addresses of adults in the town, doesn't have Peter Street in its current directory.
The street may not exist in its original form, but it doesn't make any difference because nobody lives there. Peter Street has a function, though, providing ingress and egress to Garden City, located on the Dudley side of the French River
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