Ceremony downtown honors Mahoning County’s 100 dead in Vietnam War
By SEAN BARRON
Steve Gondol fondly remembers spending time years ago at a West Side gas station near Mahoning and Portland avenues with John J. Kos and Francis L. Ware III, both of whom he had met in elementary school.
After high school, all three enlisted in the military and served in Vietnam, but Gondol was the only one who made it home alive.
“We did a lot together,” recalled Gondol, a former Jackson Township trustee who was in the Army from July 1968 to April 1971. “We used to take care of our cars and wash them [at the gas station] until we were drafted.” Gondol shared those and other memories of Kos and Ware, two of 100 Mahoning County soldiers killed in the Vietnam war and honored during Sunday’s 21st annual Laying of the Roses ceremony next to the Vietnam War Memorial on Central Square.
The gathering was to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice serving their country, said Gus Guzman, master of ceremonies and event coordinator.
American Legion Post 472, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 135 and the International Association of Workforce Professionals Youngstown chapter, along with Struthers-based AMVETS Post 44, hosted the solemn two-hour event.
Partly sunny skies accompanied by a brisk wind greeted attendees, who came to remember and honor the 100 fallen comrades, those who died from service-related illnesses and two who remain missing in action.