LaRosa Boys & Girls Club keeps its Vietnam tradition
LaRosa Boys & Girls Club's 46th annual Veterans Day program honored members who were killed in the Vietnam War.
Families of 11 who died between 1965-69 gathered outside the McKeesport club Saturday with a handful of former club members, veterans and city officials to pay tribute to their memory.
Program narrator Walt Yager, treasurer and veterans publicity chair of LaRosa Boys & Girls Club, explained the history of the biannual memorial ceremonies that club founder Sam LaRosa began in 1966 when five members died in Vietnam. Six more died in that conflict, and LaRosa set aside a wall in the club's entrance to honor them all.
“Sam set in motion what is reputedly the first memorial in the United States to honor Vietnam veterans, more than a decade and a half before our national Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. was dedicated,” Yager said.
Each Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the club honors Norman W. Johnson, Michael J. Nemchick, James F. Brooks, Tyrone G. Burse, James E. West, Gregory F. Popowitz, Curtis T. Gay, Thomas J. Sweeney, Louis H. Huff II, John A. Germek and Lee D. Thomas.
“We want people to remember who they were and what they did,” said retired Marine Jay West, brother of the late James E. West. “As long as they hold these ceremonies, these 11 men will never be forgotten. And as long as we're alive, we will never forget our relatives.”
Members of the West, Sweeney and Johnson families stood through Saturday's ceremony next to the club's outdoor memorial, which includes a granite headstone inscribed with the name and casualty date of each fallen member.
“The family members will continue this honor twice a year,” said Tom Maglicco, former director of the LaRosa club. “I'm proud to be a part of it until I no longer can. Thank you, all.”
McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said the LaRosa event hits close to home as the club remembers those who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
“My father was a Vietnam veteran, and he received two Purple Hearts,” Cherepko said. “To think that he very well could be on that memorial and not here, I know I wouldn't be here. More importantly, without these individuals and all of our veterans, none of us would be here.”
State Sen. James R. Brewster thanked families for bringing their children to the service.
“This crowd is starting to get a little smaller, so we want to get some younger folks involved,” he said. “One day, kids, you'll be standing here 20 or 30 years from now continuing this ceremony.”
Brewster said the community owes it to the veterans and their families to make sure the LaRosa event continues for decades.
State Rep. Bill Kortz, Allegheny County Councilman Bob Macey and Michael J. Nemchick of Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 9 also addressed those who gathered Saturday.
Liberty and Port Vue veterans offered a rifle volley, and the Dinkfelt family played taps.
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media
. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Cervelli’s inspiration
- Workforce to shrink as baby boomers retire, birth rates fall
- More witness intimidation charges are filed against Plum teacher
- Route 22 closed in Delmont after tractor-trailer crash at cloverleaf
- Pirates hope 1st baseman Alvarez starts to regain power stroke
- Pittsburgh Public Works supervisor disciplined for text message
- St. Vincent professor, students use interviews for drug addiction data
- Snappers treat revitalizes Lawrenceville’s Edward Marc Brands chocolatier
- 80 percent of drivers found exceeding speed limit in Mt. Lebanon, Bethel Park
- Downie, Ehrhoff lead list of likely Penguins leaving in free agency
- Mt Pleasant police officer assaulted while making arrest