Charles H. Tracy
Sergeant Charles H. Tracy is a Chicopee native who was awarded the Medal of Honor during the American Civil War for two acts of bravery. His Medal of Honor was awarded to him on November 19, 1897 with a citation that reads “At the risk of his own life, at Spotsylvania, 12 May 1864, assisted in carrying a wounded and helpless officer to a place of safety.”
The Mayor of Chicopee along The Department of Veterans' Services has an annual award ceremony in which they honor Sergeant Tracy and present the Charles H. Tracy Award to a veteran for his/her volunteerism and service to the Chicopee veteran community for that year.
If you are interested in nominating a Veteran for this award please contact your veteran organization to discuss sending in a nomination worksheet.
Due to the unprecedented times we experienced in 2020, we were not able to hold a 2020 Charles H. Tracy award ceremony. Wednesday, May 26, 2021, we were able to hold the 2021 Charles H. Tracy Award Ceremony where we presented the citations to both our 2020 and 2021 recipients.
To view the video of the 2021 Charles H. Tracy Award Ceremony click the ChicopeeTV Facebook link.
2020 Charles H. Tracy Award Recipient
William "Bill" Kmelius
The American Legion Post 275 and American Legion Post 353 proudly and enthusiastically nominate William “Bill” Kmelius, United States Army veteran, as the 2020 Charles H. Tracy Award Recipient.
Bill served in the United States Army from 1966 - 1968 with the 566th Medical Company and received the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Bill was the secretary of the Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Committee of Chicopee for 20 years and only recently stepped down at the end of 2019. He was very involved with the American Legion Post 275 for many years and held several important positions with this legion. Bill is a past commander of Post 275, has held the position of finance chair and membership chair, participated in their firing detail, was the adjunct treasurer, and helped raise funds for the legions Turkey Dinners that they provided to veterans and service members in need.
While part of the legion, Bill worked with the Boys State and Girls State program for high school juniors that teaches them how the government works. He was the chair of the agriculture committee where he worked with the Future Farmers of America. Bill also was a member of the American Legion Post 275 firing detail.
In his spare time, Bill served meals at the rescue mission in Springfield, worked the picnics at the Holyoke Soldiers Home, and participated in the Christmas gift shop, also at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. For the past 12 years, Bill and his wife Donna have been very involved in the Memorial Day ceremonies by volunteering to drive the Gold Star families and assisting in planning the events, he has been a tremendous asset to the city of Chicopee for many years.
The nomination forms that were submitted stated that Bill “does all of this volunteering in a quiet manner and does not ever seek the recognition he truly deserves” and that he is a “very dedicated veteran whom puts the needs of other veterans before himself”. These words truly embody the reasons behind why William Kmelius is the recipient of the 2020 Charles Tracy Award.
2021 Charles H. Tracy Award Recipient
James "Jim" Healey
The American Legion Post 275 and the AMVETS Post 12 eagerly nominate United States Army veteran, James “Jim” Healey, as the 2021 Charles H. Tracy Award Recipient.
Jim served in the United States Army from 1968 -1970 with service in Vietnam with the Americal 23rd Infantry Division and has received the Purple Heart for his service. Jim has resided in Chicopee all of his life and has proven to be a wonderful addition to the city and its veterans community.
Throughout his time in Chicopee, Jim has been very involved in veterans associations and organizations. Currently, Jim is the SGT at Arms for American Legion Post 337, on the Board of Directors for the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 111, holds memberships with VFW Post 625, AMVETS Post 12, and DAV Chapter 11, and is a part of the Forty and Eight Veterans Organization that sponsors nursing programs through different scholarships.
Jim has served as both a member and as the president of the Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Committee for Chicopee, always jumping into the sub-committees. In 2018, while serving as president for the PAC he was also given title of Parade Marshall. In 2019, Jim assisted the Department of Veterans Services by participating in our Graduates to Guardians program where he “coined” high school seniors enlisting into the military.
Jim has been involved in organizing the Veterans Day luncheon at the Knights of Columbus on Granby Road for many years and served as Navigator for Father Danial Doyle Assembly fourth degree Knights of Columbus 69 and was a past grand knight. For quite some time now, Jim has also volunteered to manage the half-staff notifications to lower and raise the flags at Veterans Plaza on Front Street on behalf of the city.
In all nomination forms for Jim Healey he is described as someone who is “both an asset to the Veterans community and the Veterans Services office and is extremely selfless and caring and never fails to be present for an event involving veterans in the city”. Whenever anyone is in need Jim is one of the first people to volunteer to help and this is only part of the reason he is the 2021 Charles H. Tracy Award recipient.