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SS McKeesport replica finds home at heritage center

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Master of Ceremonies Robert A. Sokol introduces McKeesporter Jim Fedasz, who built a wooden replica of the SS McKeesport, during the 2008 ceremony.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
In preparation for the 65th anniversary of SS McKeesport's final voyage in the northern Atlantic Sue Striffler Galaski and Robert A. Sokol get the first look at a replica carved by Jim Fedasz, center.

In 2008 and 2009, much of the SS McKeesport's publicity focused on McKeesport resident Jim Fedasz, who carved a wooden model of the 6,198-ton steel ship.

Fedasz marked the 65th anniversary of the ship's sinking by awarding the model to the SS McKeesport committee in 2008.

The committee donated it to the McKeesport Heritage Center — now known as the McKeesport Regional History and Heritage Center — the following year.

“I'm pretty well honored for it,” Fedasz said, regarding his contribution.

“I already have one painting here at the heritage center.”

The center's executive director Michelle Wardle said she was happy to add Fedasz's work to the collection.

“We're very glad to accept this into our collection because we currently don't have any image or replica of the SS McKeesport,” Wardle said.

“It will be there for future generations to see and appreciate.”

The committee also gave a $100 donation to go toward displaying the replica and has supported it in years since then.

This year, there will be a $100 contribution from Huntington Bank to support the exhibit.

Event chairman Robert Sokol said the committee wants to continue to enlighten the city of McKeesport on this important part of its history for years to come.

“It's remarkable,” he said.

“This ship was named after our city, and it was made with steel from our city. It was the SS McKeesport.”

Sokol said McKeesporters should appreciate the history of the ship because the hit on the SS McKeesport prompted one of the most violent North Atlantic attacks of World War II, resulting in the first major victory of convoy escorts over U-boats.

“I'm appreciative of working with this committee and doing anything that enhances the city of McKeesport or causes the public to reflect on what the veterans have given us,” SS McKeesport committee member Laura Jenkins said.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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