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Scouts from Struthers raise flag to honor veterans at ceremony

By SEAN BARRON

Correspondent

YOUNGSTOWN — For more than four decades, the Marine Corps.’ slogan has been “The few, the proud,” but it also describes John Payne’s feelings and situation.

“I like it a lot. I’m honored to do things like this,” the Struthers-based Boy Scout Troop 9101 member said.

John, 12, who’s been in scouting about seven years, was referring to having been among the four Boy Scouts from the 22-member Troop 9101 who participated in Thursday morning’s Huntington Bank flag-raising ceremony at Huntington Community Alley. The site is next to the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater off South Phelps Street downtown.

The other three scouts were Nicholas Johnson, 12; Collin Senvisky, 12; and Stephen Suszczynski, 13.

The 45-minute gathering was to honor active, retired and Reserve veterans for the sacrifices they have made in serving the nation. Also recognized were their family members and loved ones.

“I feel honored as a mom to have him do this. His troop is into doing things like this,” John’s mother, Rebecca Payne, said, adding that several family members and relatives also have served in the military.

The four boys slowly hoisted an American flag up a flagpole adjacent to the amphitheater as the Struthers High School Marching Band, under the leadership of Josh Hawkins, performed.

The event’s main speaker was Maj. Scott Allen, chief public-affairs officer for the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna and the 910th Airlift Wing.

“They leave families, they leave children and they miss birthdays … They raised their hands to defend the Constitution. They’ve committed their lives to the United States of America,” said Allen, a recipient of the Air Force Commendation Medal and many other medals.

Many veterans continue to struggle with physical, emotional and mental problems as a result of the toll combat had on them, the 26-year Air Force member added.

“PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is very common with young people coming back, but not something you can really prepare for. We need all of the support we can get,” Allen continued.

Regardless of where or when veterans served the country– along with those still serving — they deserve others’ thanks, appreciation and gratitude, he said.

Echoing Allen’s sentiment was Bill Shivers, Huntington Bank’s regional president, whose father was a World War II veteran.

“We commend you, we admire you, we respect you, we thank you,” Shivers said. “If you know a veteran or meet a veteran, shake their hand and say, ‘Thank you.'”

Amanda Bundy, a lender with Huntington Bank’s business resource group, said it’s vital we never forget what veterans of all military branches have selflessly done for the nation. They are our neighbors, colleagues and associates, and veterans’ family members who await their return home also should be remembered, she added.

In addition, Thursday’s gathering was one of 11 such ceremonies Huntington Bank is hosting, Bundy continued.

Attendees also listened to Struthers High band members play their rendition of “God Bless America,” as well as the popular Lee Greenwood song “God Bless the USA.”

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