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Veterans honor 122 Valley soldiers who died during Korean War

Published: 6/25/12 @ 12:00


A two-hour “Laying of the Roses” ceremony Sunday at Veterans Park in Austintown honored the 122 service members from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties killed in the Korean War, sometimes referred to as The Forgotten War. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice:

Marion A. Acitelli

James R. Aldridge

Leon Austin Jr.

Thomas M. Bachop

William M. Baker

Frederi Ballentine

John J. Banish

Robert E. Beede

Robert G. Bigley

David K. Birch

James E. Bobovnyk

Peter D. Bodnarik

Dixie F. Boggess Jr.

Charles E. Bratton

Kenneth C. Bruce

Joseph M. Budesky

James T. Butcher

William E. Butler

John M. Carnes

Joseph C. Carter

Martin M. Chepke

Donald J. Clark

Robert D. Cleckner

Leonard O. Creech

Theodore D. Criss

Robert T. Davis

John Dedon

Albert W. Draper

Leo E. Dubos

Russell C. Eppinger

Vernon J. Erby

Ronald P. Ferguson

Dale L. Fisher

William B. Frost

Eugene L. Gettig

George R. Gfeller

Marvin L. Gilbert

Robert J. Gilford

Richard J. Gray

Norman A. Grimm

William C. Hadley

Arnold G. Hannukesela

Jack H. Hederstrom

James R. Holmes

William F. Hottinger

James Howell

Francis M. Johnson

Edward P. Johnston

Robert C. Jones

Stanley J. Kacar

John N. King Jr.

Paul R. Kirkbride

Peter Kitt

Edward R. Leeson

John F. Lesko

Alfred Lopez Jr.

Frank Lutz

James L. Mandrean Jr.

Charles Manhollan

Robert W. Manley

Charles Marino

Edwin C. Martin

Joseph R. Mauser

Herbert McClendon

Frank D. McKlusky

Edward D. Miller

James W. Minerd

Ralph E. Morgan

John T. Murdich

William N. Nykytuk

Thomas J. Ohara

David J. Ohl

Edward J. Ontko

John P. Phillips

Thomas Pipic

Walter E. Pittman

Harry E. Plunkett

Richard A. Potts

Thomas E. Ramsey

Michael Robanke

Frank P. Romandetti

Robert L. Rooks

Eugene E. Rowland

John O. Ryan

Michael E. Sabel

Robert C. Sabine

Donald L. Sebastian

Elvin B. Shields

Herbert C. Shuman

Matthew A. Simpson

Walter Siniawski

Robert E. Smeltzer

William H. Sommers

Richard Spon

Curtis B. Sprow

William A. Stanley

Jeffrey Stevenson

Walter T. Stoeber

Clarence Stricklin Jr.

James D. Sullivan

John F. Thomas

Henry T. Thurman Jr.

David O. Titus

Eugene O. Trask

Donald K. Trotter Jr.

Nickolas J. Tsaknis

Thomas T. Tsoukras

Cecil T. Vesy

George W. Wallace

Elmer E. Waltz

Richard J. Wasko

Richard D. Whalen

Carl White Jr.

Earl E. Williams

Gene W.R. Willrich

Joseph F. Wilson

Mathew Wojtowicz

Melvin G. Wolf

Charles L. Woodruff

Jack L. Young

By Sean Barron

news@vindy.com

AUSTINTOWN

John T. Pariza still gets emotional when he talks about James E. Bobovnyk and Richard D. Whalen.

“It broke my heart when I came home [from serving in the Korean War] and found that they were dead. I still think of them every day.”

Pariza, however, also got to honor his two friends during Sunday’s 10th annual “Laying of the Roses” ceremony at Austintown Veterans Park on Wickliffe Circle just off Mahoning Avenue.

The Korean War Veterans Association of Mahoning Valley Chapter 137 hosted the solemn, two-hour ceremony, which took place to remember and honor Bobovnyk and Whalen, along with the other 120 soldiers from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties who were killed in the war.

Pariza, Chapter 137’s commander, recalled having attended Hayes Junior High School with Bobovnyk and Whalen, both of whom also lived in his neighborhood and were his friends.

Bobovnyk, who was captured in November 1950 and died in a North Korean prison camp, still has family in Girard, Pariza said, adding that Whalen was killed in 1951.

The event’s main speaker was retired Army Lt. Col. Walter Duzzny, who reminded those attending that the 122 killed in action also were others’ friends, neighbors and co-workers, and had occupations such as teachers, doctors and steel-mill workers.

After enlisting or being drafted, nearly every familiar aspect of their lives changed. Even common, everyday items were no longer looked at the same way, Duzzny explained.

“A hat was no longer a hat; it was a cover or a helmet,” he said.

Nevertheless, they accepted the challenges and took pride serving their country, Duzzny continued, adding that those in the military today also exude pride and commitment.

Fellow veterans placed one red rose next to a wreath as each of the 122 names was read, and a bell was rung.

The ceremony featured a table recognizing prisoners of war and those missing in action that was filled with symbolism, such as an inverted wine glass, a lemon, a salt shaker and a rose.

The glass symbolized the soldier’s inability to make a toast; the lemon represented the soldiers’ bitter fate; the salt pointed to the tears of family members awaiting their loves ones’ return; and the rose called attention to the importance of keeping the faith.

“They gave up their yesterdays and tomorrows so we could enjoy our todays,” said Robert Vitullo, Chapter 137’s second commander who also was the program’s master of ceremonies.

Additional remarks were made by John Boccieri, commander of the 773rd Airlift Squadron at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna; Jim Davis, Austintown Township trustee; and the Rev. Richard Koker, Chapter 137’s chaplain.