An image of veteran James Mandeville is projected onto the home of his daughter, Laurie Mandeville Beaudette, as she looks out a window with her son, Kyle, left, and husband, Mike.

'They sent them literally into a death trap': Families recall horror as Covid-19 ravaged Massachusetts veterans home

Updated 3:59 PM ET, Fri June 26, 2020

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(CNN)While serving in the Navy during the Korean War, Robert Blais once jumped overboard to rescue a fellow sailor.

"He gave his life jacket to save a man," his daughter Sheryl Blais said, recounting a favorite story of the man she so admired. Her father didn't drown that day in the Pacific. But he would drown by Covid-19 many decades later on the morning of March 30, when the disease flooded his lungs with fluid.
Blais, who was 90, spent his final months of life at the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, 90 miles west of Boston. As the virus ravaged the facility, no fewer than 94 veterans lost their lives, at least 76 of those lost testing positive with Covid-19.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker commissioned an independent investigation, with the final 174-page report released Wednesday.
In one line of that report a social worker calls out a decision superiors gave to consolidate infected and healthy veterans together in a single ward. The worker noted that transferring the former soldiers downstairs was "like moving the concentration camp — we (were) moving these unknowing veterans off to die."