Girard, J-M students earn scholarship
WARREN — The memory of a local Vietnam Army veteran will be remembered as a special scholarship has been established in his name.
The Trumbull County Veterans Service Commission on Tuesday presented the Purple Heart Gary Gutelius Memorial Scholarship, in memory of Gutelius, who died in February 2022 on his 74th birthday, to Angela Jones of Jackson-Milton High School and Connor Strain and Olivia Wasko, both of Girard High School.
Angela, the daughter of Kevin and Wendy Jones, will attend Youngstown State University for pre-med and biology.
Connor, the son of Scott and Tara Strain, will attend Baldwin Wallace University to study finance and math.
Olivia, the daughter of John and Yvette Wasko, will attend Ohio University as a biological sciences major.
The award recognizes academic achievement, service to the community and leadership among peers.
Herm Breuer, executive director of the commission, said the three wrote essays about family members who have served in the military and their stories, and how the students have worked and volunteered with veterans organizations.
Breuer, who made the scholarship presentation, said the award honors Gutelius for his service to the country and other Purple Heart veterans who came home from the war in flag-draped coffins.
“This is a very special day for us presenting these scholarships and shows what this veterans organization stands for. We may be small in number, but we try to make up for that on our impact on the community,” Breuer said.
“He was always full of ambition. We sat in this room about two years ago and Gary was with us then. We discussed a plan for the scholarship. Unfortunately, we lost Gary before we could finalize the plans. We decided to honor Gary by naming the scholarship for him,” he said.
Breuer said Gutelius was a driving force in the veteran community to get things done.
“We could not be happier to have the three tonight be the first representatives of that scholarship to honor him,” Breuer said.
Gutelius was drafted in 1967 into the U.S. Army and served with the 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam War. He was wounded at the Battle of Hamburger Hill, a 10-day battle fought during the three-phased Operation Apache Snow, which was a campaign to destroy the North Vietnamese Army bases in the A Shau Valley. He received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service.
After returning home, Gutelius served as president of veterans committees for 16 years. He belonged to many veterans organizations, including being a lifetime member of D.A.V. Chapter 11; the VFW Post 1090; the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 606, where he served as senior vice commander; the Vietnam Veterans of America; the American Legion Post 540 and the Amvets Post 290. Gary headed up the Veterans Day and Memorial Day committee for Trumbull County, as well as organized volunteers every year to decorate veterans’ graves for Memorial Day. He also was one of five individuals responsible for bringing the Vietnam Wall That Heals to Warren.
In 2018, Gutelius placed a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day.
The Purple Heart was first awarded in August 1782 by Gen. George Washington, was brought back in 1932 and has been presented since.
“Since then, we pray that more of our men and women do not receive the Purple Heart as we know more than 2 million have been awarded to date,” Breuer said.
The three scholarship winners also received American flags that flew over the U.S. Capitol building.