February 12, 2020 ~ Flemington, NJ
During a meeting of the Bridgewater Township Council, held virtually at 7:30pm on Thursday February 11, 2021, D&R Greenway Land Trust President & CEO Linda Mead and artist James Fiorentino paid tribute to the life, legacy and land preservation efforts of Lt. Col. Vaucher. Fiorentino also shared with the Bridgewater community Vaucher’s portrait, which he completed and shared with the 102 year-old WWII veteran and his family just days before his passing.
“It was an honor to have painted Lt. Col Bob Vaucher and a privilege to have met him and his family on multiple occasions; to have heard his amazing life stories firsthand,” says Fiorentino, who has been painting his heroes since he was a teenager. At the age of 15 years, his portrait of Reggie Jackson was featured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Fiorentino’s painting of Roberto Clemente remains in the museum’s permanent collection“To celebrate Bob’s life by painting his portrait was important for me,” adds Fiorentino. “It’s a way to share his story and preserve his legacy. To have met Bob through D & R Greenway and the preservation of the Steele’s Gap property was in itself, a very special experience. My hope is that this portrait will reflect both the pride Bob felt in his Hall of Fame military career and service to our country, and his life-long commitment to preserving the land and our history. I know I share the sentiment of many in this community when I say that those of us who live in freedom will always be grateful to the heroes who helped preserve it, and Lt. Col. Bob Vaucher will forever be one of those heroes.”
Vaucher, who passed away earlier this week at 102 years of age, flew 117 WWII combat missions. He was Mission Commander of the 525 B-29 Show of Force over the battleship USS Missouri during the Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945, and he is the ‘Honorary Air Boss’ of the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover over the WWII Memorial, Washington, D.C., on the 75th Anniversary of Victory-in-Europe Day, May 8, 2020.
It was the personal mission of Lt. Col. Vaucher to preserve this land, known locally as the “Wemple Estate.” The 36-acre site includes a historic spring and the landmark Steele Tavern, mentioned in the letters of George Washington. It has been permanently preserved through a partnership including Bridgewater Township, its residents, Somerset County, the Crossroads of the American Revolution and D&R Greenway Land Trust, and has been renamed as the “Vaucher Revolutionary Preserve at Steele’s Gap.