Meshel critizes Tressel in Veterans Day speech in Struthers


Every Nov. 11, Ray Ornelas of Struthers recalls spending Christmas Day 1951 in Korea.

Ornelas, a Korean War veteran and a former commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars District 8 post, was one of more than 50 people to attend a Veterans Day service Friday at a memorial in Struthers, near the high school.

“I remember,” Ornelas said. “Things come back to me.”

Former Ohio Sen. Harry Meshel, a recipient of two bronze Battle stars, spoke of honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Those of us who were fortunate enough to go and come back owe a special debt of gratitude to the men above and to all of you who’ve supported us over the years,” he said.

Before entering politics, Meshel was a serviceman with the Naval Construction Battalion from 1943 to 1946.

Meshel shared memories of his time serving in New Guinea and the Philippines during World War II, including how his mother displayed American flags in her window to honor her sons. Meshel said he used to communicate with his brother in letters by using Anglicized versions of Greek words. They were able that way to work around the U.S.’s military’s restrictions on soldiers sharing their locations, he said.

At one point, the former Youngstown State University trustee seemed to praise the university’s programming for veterans, but then criticized YSU President Jim Tressel.

“We tried to put together a big proposal on how to go out and recruit our GIs and bring ’em in, and unfortunately my dear friend the president didn’t agree with me, and so I’m angry at him and really have no respect for him,” Meshel said, as members of the crowd reacted audibly. “I don’t mind saying that publicly. You can print it if you want to, but Jim Tressel really doesn’t understand what it is to take care of veterans.”

YSU Spokesman Ron Cole declined to comment on Meshel’s remark, but referred to a news release about Military Times including YSU on its “Best for Vets: College 2017” list.

Read more about the event in Saturday's Vindicator or on

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