In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Guilford, Maine

Where history meets the future

Veterans Tributes

Guilford Veterans Memorial Photo by: Tom Goulette

By: Sieferd C Schultz

The United States has been involved in six major wars and at least half a score of lesser conflicts since declaring its independence from Great Britain. Since its original settlement, Guilford has watched some of its brightest and best go marching off to serve in these hostilities. Two of these wars, the Civil War and World War II were without question the costliest in terms of manpower and materiel. To try to cover all of those who served from Guilford would be nearly impossible so it was decided to cover two who served in World War II - one very young, one near the upper limit of age to serve; one came home, one did not; one was male, one was female; both volunteered; one served in the Pacific, one in Europe. Both served with great distinction and courage.

Their names - Louis Wilbur Trafton and Mattie Anna Pinette


Louis Wilbur Trafton was born on February 21, 1921. He attended school in Guilford where he excelled in sports, lettering in baseball and basketball. He graduated in June of 1940. On December 11, l942, with the country embroiled in World War II, he answered the call to duty and enlisted in the US Marine Corps. After his training as a combat rifleman he was sent to the South Pacific and took part in four separate amphibious assaults on Japanese held islands.

For his “extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy” during the assault and capture of Saipan Island, he was awarded the “Navy Cross”, the second highest award given by the United States. His citation reads in part as follows:

“On 4 July, Private First Class TRAFTON courageously and single handedly charged into a cave containing fifteen of the enemy and annihilated the entire group. Later he forced his way into another cave where he destroyed five enemy soldiers. Throughout the entire operation, he went on numerous patrols in front of the lines and succeeded in destroying several machine guns and killing numerous enemy riflemen. His gallant and heroic actions were an inspiration to those about him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

He also received the Purple Heart for wounds received during this engagement

On Iwo Jima Island, now “Sergeant” Trafton, was a member of the FIFTH Amphibious Corps that landed under withering fire and participated in the successful assault on Mount Suribachi where members of his unit raised the first American flag. For this and 10 days of vicious hand to hand fighting from February 19th to the 28th of 1945 his unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

For his gallant actions on February 28, Sergeant Trafton was awarded the “Silver Star”, his countries third highest award. His citation for this award reads in part as follows:

“Volunteering to go in search of two of his group who had become separated from the platoon, Sergeant Trafton unhesitatingly proceeded into enemy territory and finding the two members of his platoon and another marine wounded, he returned to his own lines for aid. Prevented by enemy machine gun fire from advancing with stretcher bearers, he daringly maneuvered six of his men forward and, in the face of withering hostile small arms and mortar fire, succeeded in placing an automatic rifle team in position to neutralize the enemy’s fire, thus removing the wounded men to safety. By his inspiring leadership and great personal valor in the face of grave peril, Sergeant Trafton upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

Two days later, while still leading his platoon, Louis Wilbur Trafton was killed in action on March 2, 1945, making the ultimate sacrifice for his country. He was posthumously awarded his second Purple Heart.

After the battle Admiral Chester Nimitz made the following statement:

“Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

The local American Legion Post was renamed the Connor/Trafton Post in Sergeant Trafton’s honor.
In 1948 “Wilbur” finally came home to the town he loved and was buried in a quiet spot beside the river in Elmwood Cemetery, a true hero and an inspiration to all.

His citations and decoration along with his burial flag now reside in the Guilford Historical Society Museum.


Mattie Anna Pinette was born on February 7, 1903 in New Canada, Maine. When Mattie was seven her family relocated to Guilford but Mattie stayed behind and was raised by her Aunt and Uncle who lived in Fort Kent. After graduation she attended Madawaska Training School and later Beals College where she excelled. She went into civil service in 1923 with the Bureau of Weights and Measures in Washington, DC thus beginning service to her country that lasted 40 years. The attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 propelled Mattie into military service on August 6, 1942 at the age of 39 and she was commissioned as WAAF 3d officer on October 3, 1942. She quickly rose to 1st officer and on August 31, 1943 she was recommissioned in the WAC where she rose to the rank of Major before her release from active duty on April 26, 1946. Mattie never actually lived in Guilford but claimed it as her home of record during and after her military career.

To say that Mattie had a distinguished career in the military would be a huge understatement. She was one of the first five female officers posted to England in November of 1942. She was in England only a short time before being transferred to North Africa. The trip was anything but routine and the boat she was on was torpedoed and sunk. Mattie and other survivors spent ten hours in a lifeboat before being rescued. She excelled in her work at the Casablanca Conference and became noticed by Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower who appointed her as his personal and confidential secretary. For ten months she worked at his side on Operation Overlord, the planning for the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944.

After the successful landings and the liberation of France, Mattie was assigned to Major General John T. Lewis, Eisenhower’s liaison to France, due to her fluency in French. She personally witnessed the German surrender at Rheims. Mattie was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, European Campaign Medal with two battle stars, plus the French Croix-de-Guerre. She received commendations from Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, John R. Deane, Generals George Patton, Omar Bradley, and W. B. Smith. She rose to the rank of Lt Colonel before her retirement from the reserves in 1962.

The end of the war in 1945 was not the end of Mattie Pinette’s distinguished government career. She was hired as Chief of Employee Development in the newly created Atomic Energy Commission working until her retirement. She remained a close personal friend of General Omar Bradley and the two corresponded for several years.

In August of 1999 Mattie passed on and there being no Catholic cemetery in Guilford, she was buried in the Catholic cemetery at Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, leaving behind a larger than life legacy and who went where few women had gone before.

Some of Mattie’s military records and citations plus personally autographed pictures of Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley are currently housed at the Guilford Historical Society Museum.