Manuel Figueiredo, 86, Was Air Corps Veteran

Manuel Soares Figueiredo, 86, of Vineyard Haven died peacefully at Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility in Oak Bluffs on Jan. 27, surrounded by his daughters and Windemere staff. Manny, as he was better known, was born to Jose Soares Figueiredo and Rosa Medeiros Figueiredo on the State Road family farm on June 1, 1917. He attended Tisbury Elementary and Tisbury High School and worked at the old Coca-Cola Bottling Company in his youth.

On Sept. 28, 1942, at the age of 25, Manny was inducted into the United States Army Air Corps and served his country during World War II. He was stationed around the country at various aircraft training schools. After completing this training he was sent on to Seattle, Wash., to the Boeing Flying Fortress School for the service and maintenance of Boeing heavy bombardment aircraft (B-29 Bombers). During the air offensive on Japan he was stationed on Saipan with the 879th Bombardment Squadron as a technical sergeant in charge of an aircraft maintenance crew of 30 men. It was his wing group that went in first and began to bomb Tokyo following the historic Doolittle Raid. During this time, Manny flew many pre-bombing missions with the flight crews to insure the mechanical and electrical stability of the aircraft. He was also a waist gunner on B-29's and flew mercy missions over China to drop food, clothing and medical supplies to POW's confined in Japanese prison camps.

Manny was awarded three battle stars/campaign ribbons for the Western Pacific, the Eastern Mandated Islands and the Air Offensive of Japan. He also received a Good Conduct Medal and a Victory Medal. He was honorably discharged on Nov. 24, 1945. His service to his country remained a source of honor and pride his whole life long.

Mr. Figueiredo's military training in mechanical and electrical systems served him well. He was known as one of the best marine mechanics on the Vineyard in his day. He often worked at Burt's Boatyard and did a stint teaching small engine repair at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. To his family, it seemed there wasn't anything he couldn't fix. A fond family memory recalls that he helped to design and build an internal combustion chamber out of a Bremner Wafer can for one of his daughter's science projects.

On Nov. 29, 1947 he married Eileen Ruth McLaughlin of Edgartown, daughter of the late Captain E.C. McLaughlin and Hannah Broadbridge McLaughlin of Edgartown, and together they raised three daughters.

In 1955 Manny and his brother Bill purchased the Corner Service Station on Beach Road, the present site of Tisbury Texaco, and operated a Mobil station for many years. Later they also bought the building located at 82 Main street in Vineyard Haven that is the present day Le Grenier and opened a Western Auto store. Being expert mechanics, they expanded the service to include on-the-spot installation of many of the auto parts and accessories they sold in the store. During his lifetime he worked for other Island business such as Whiting's Milk and R.M. Packer as well.

Manny served the Island community for many years as a Tisbury water commissioner, a Tisbury volunteer fireman, and a Boy Scout leader. He belonged to the American Legion Post #257 and the former Vineyard Haven benevolent and charitable association, the Improved Order of Red Men.

What will be remembered most about Manny was his agile wit and ready humor. He trod even the darkest road in life with a lightness that only someone of his humor and perspective could manage. He maintained an active and curious interest in world events and history and was never so pleased as when the History Channel made its debut. He was a proud patriot and supported his country in bad times as well as good. As with most extraordinary people, his personality was ageless. He related to children and young people as easily as he did adults.

As with many of the older Portuguese on Martha's Vineyard, his passing is a reminder that time has passed on the Vineyard as well. Family photographs are windows to the past depicting a by-gone era when the State Road area was one of open fields and woods and the small Figueiredo family farm was a part of the landscape. Images include day trips to Gay Head, horseback riding in Chilmark, opening scallops beside a weathered clapboard barn, chicken coops, orchards and fields planted with vegetables and potatoes. Close friends and family lived just across a State Road bordered by grassy shoulders instead of curbed sidewalks.

Manny is the last of his generation of Figueiredos. He was predeceased by his brothers and sisters, Joseph and Edward Figueiredo, Mary Conway, Helen Correa and George Figueiredo. He is survived by his former spouse, Eileen R. McLaughlin of Oak Bluffs, and by his daughters and their husbands, Janet E. Scatton Berry and the Rev. Barton Berry of Bedford, Pa., Patricia E. Reed and Alan S.W. Reed of Nantucket and Diane R. Figueiredo of Oak Bluffs. He is survived also by three grandchildren, Barry and Darian Scatton and Elizabeth Reed.

Funeral services were held at St. Augustine's Catholic Church in Vineyard Haven at 11 a.m. on Feb. 1, with interment at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility in Manny's memory.