Mahoning veterans added to honor rolls
By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
Five Mahoning County honorees have been added to the military honor walls at Oakhill Renaissance Place in the last two years.
Saturday, family and friends gathered to watch as they were acknowledged at a plaque dedication ceremony.
“We are justly honored and proud of their service and sacrifice for this nation, the state of Ohio, and of course, Mahoning County,” said Susan Krawchyk, Mahoning County Veterans Service Commission executive director. “Their service and sacrifice will not be forgotten.”
The walls in the entrance of the building are devoted to plaques honoring individuals who have been inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor and the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame, and those who have received the Mahoning County Medal of Honor.
Saturday’s event honored John Koonse, Kenneth Nagel, Norman Paul and Robert Pluchinsky, who were inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame, and Jennifer Baun, who was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.
The Military Hall recognizes veterans who have received medals of valor for their battlefield actions. The Veterans Hall recognizes veterans who have honorably served their country through military service and who have continued to serve and inspire with their deeds and accomplishments throughout their lifetime.
“It’s very humbling,” Pluchinsky said. “I never feel like I deserve this.”
When he came home from serving in the Vietnam War, he did not feel appreciated.
“It was a very unpopular war,” he said. “But today, it’s like I came home yesterday. It’s nice. But then I start remembering the ones who didn’t, and it just makes that part of it rough.”
Betty Paul said she is proud the community is recognizing her husband’s service.
“I’m proud that [Norman] served our country. I really love our country, and I know he does, so we share that in common,” she said.
He wasn’t recognized when he came home from Vietnam, she added.
The event gives attendees a chance to learn the personal stories of the veterans, Norman’s daughter, Susan Hoffman, said.
“It brings it home, what that person went through while they were gone and how they served our country,” she said. “It’s a privilege to thank them for doing that for us.”
It’s a little overwhelming to be acknowledged for the things she’s done, Jennifer Baun said.
“It’s my privilege to actually stand beside these guys who were inducted into the military hall of fame for actions while they served,” said.
She believes that events such as the plaque dedication will mean more people want to hear the stories of veterans.
She works to ensure the stories of women who have served are heard.
“A lot of these women were trailblazers,” she said. “Their service was never acknowledged, and I try to make sure that message is relayed every day, and that the young ladies that serve today have a much better experience because of what they did.”
Koonse and Nagel were unable to attend. Ruth Finney, Nagle’s daughter, attended in his place.