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Veterans Day ceremony set for Saturday

| Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 10:30 a.m.

The Byers-Tosh American Legion Post 267 and Fort Ligonier Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 734 will conduct a Veterans Day ceremony 11 a.m. Saturday on the Diamond.

A parade led by members of the Ligonier Valley Honor Guard will begin at 10:45 a.m. at the VFW post on East Main Street and proceed to the Ligonier Bandstand.

The joint service will be led by American Legion Commander D.J. Jackson and VFW Commander Dave Hunter.

“The ceremony will be dedicated to honoring all veterans — past, present and future,” said Jackson, who was installed as commander in June.

Jackson joined the local Legion in 2003 and has served as post historian and first and second vice commander.

Jackson, formerly of Big Springs, Texas, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1975. He was assigned to the regional medical center in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he flew search and rescue and earned his air crewman wings. In 1978, he was transferred to USS L. Y. Spear and was selected to attend aerospace medicine technician school.

He was then assigned to a fighter squadron in Oceana, Va. As an enlisted aviation warfare specialist he established the Naval Medical Clinic in Norfolk, Va., and then he transferred to field medical service school in 1984.

From 1984 to 1987, he was stationed with the First Marine Amphibious Brigade, Hawaii and he was deployed to Okinawa, Japan.

Jackson was then assigned as an instructor with the Naval Hospital Corps School Great Lakes until 1991. From there he was transferred to USS John F. Kennedy where he worked in medical supply. He completed an Adriatic cruise, earned enlisted surface warfare specialist designation and was advanced to senior chief hospital corpsman.

In 1994, he was promoted to senior enlisted adviser and then master chief hospital corpsman before being transferred to the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va. in 1996.

Jackson served as command master chief at Halyburton Naval Hospital in Cherry Point, N.C., in 1997 until his retirement from the Navy in 2000.

Jackson's awards include the Navy Commendation Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal. He resides in Laughlintown with his wife Marty Ann (Rovedatti) and has two children, Nicolas and Kristi.

Jackson works for the Conemaugh Physicians Group in Ligonier.

As new commander at the Ligonier Legion, Jackson said he plans to continue on the track established by former commanders, including Roy Hutchinson, to serve the community of Ligonier.

His said his goal is to get more local veterans active in the local post activities. Jackson said of the more than 300 members, less than 20 play an active role in the community.

“We have many military retirees out there but they are not interested in participating,” he said. “We encourage the vets to come in and look at what we do. Come to one event and be with our veterans.”

Jackson said veterans of all ages share a common bond. He hopes to get more veterans to work together because of that special military connection to help the community. Some of the activities the Legion serves include the Wounded Warrior Project — the group raises money all year to donates to the Wounded Warriors when they walk through Ligonier every summer. The Legion also offers scholarships and donate to area veterans projects.

“In the past 14 years, we have donated more than $90,000 to scholarships for local students.

They work with local Boy Scout Troops and donate funds to purchase dog food for the local K-9 police dog, Blek.

“We want to remove the stigma of being just a club or a bar,” Jackson said. “We want to help our community, help our veterans. The more we can do for vets in the community, that is what we want to do.”

Representing the American Legion, Second Officer Steve Kimmick will serve as master of ceremonies at the service.

Others participating in the service are Marian Nicely, chaplain; Sue Crouse, president of the American Legion auxiliary; Kurt Renner, VFW first officer; and Rich Griser, VFW junior vice commander.

Mayor Ormond “Butch” Bellas will speak at the ceremony.

Following the brief comments, flowers will be placed at the memorial marker by Pat Plude, president of the Fort Ligonier Post 734 VFW Auxiliary while Jackson and Hunter read “In Flanders Fields.”

Jackson will place flags on the marker and order a comrades salute. “Taps” will be played and the commanders will raise the flag.

A meal will be served at the American Legion following the ceremony.

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or

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