Pleasant Hills changes guard at holiday service
A Veterans Day program held on Monday morning by the West Jefferson Hills Chamber of Commerce took on added significance when retiring Pleasant Hills Magisterial District Judge Pat A. Capolupo — a Vietnam veteran — passed the figurative gavel to his successor, Iraq War veteran Guy Reschenthaler.
West Jefferson Hills School District Superintendent Michael Panza, state Rep. Bill Kortz and other officials attended the ceremony at Wintzell's Oyster House, winner of the chamber's annual Beautification Award. The Thomas Jefferson High School Choir performed the national anthem, “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless the USA” during the half-hour program, which included the playing of taps.
“Today we're here to honor and remember the men and women who served with the Armed Forces of the United States,” said chamber president Joseph P. Covelli. “It's not the glory for these folks but the sacrifice that we should remember.”
Covelli recognized the military and professional accomplishments of the outgoing and incoming magistrates. Capolupo, who served with the Air Force from 1965 to 1970 and took office in 2008, will be replaced in early January by Reschenthaler, an Army veteran who was elected magistrate on the Republican and Democratic primary ballots.
“(Capolupo) has served with distinction and honor and is someone we all can be proud of as a local hometown hero,” Covelli said. “Upon retirement, he will assist with the Veterans Court in Pittsburgh and serve as a senior judge.”
A third-generation soldier, Capolupo said he — and all other Americans — owe everything to veterans and active members of the military.
“Freedom doesn't come free,” he said. “The freedom you're enjoying has been bought and paid for by many, many others. Freedom to me is the ability to do everything I wanted to do in life. I was able to go to college, I was able to go to law school, and I was able to work two jobs in order to pay for my education — and it's a privilege because we have opportunities here that no other country offers. Sometimes we take those things for granted.”
Covelli said Reschenthaler, 30, of Jefferson Hills was a former Navy lieutenant who volunteered to deploy to Iraq and was selected to serve as a prosecutor for the Central Criminal Court of Iraq.
“He made daily trips into the red zone and prosecuted close to 100 terrorists and insurgents,” Covelli said. “Knowing Guy Reschenthaler makes me feel better about the future of our country.”
Reschenthaler, however, downplayed the praise and took a lighter tone.
“Some of you don't know this, but Judge Capolupo and I are very similar in some respects,” he said jokingly. “Judge Capolupo is Italian. I love Italian food. Judge Capolupo went to Duquesne Law School. I went to Duquesne Law School. Judge Capolupo owns a farm. I've always wanted to own a farm. The similarities are endless.”
Reschenthaler, however, didn't kid when he discussed what he believes the pair have most in common and what the young judge hopes to achieve during his upcoming six-year term.
“The strongest bond we have between us is that Judge Capolupo and I are both veterans,” Reschenthaler said. “I know from talking to him that his commitment to serving others was forged in battle in Vietnam and I'll use the same philosophy about serving others and serving the country when I take the bench. I want to be known for the honor, courage and commitment that Judge Capolupo has been known for.”
Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1970, or firstname.lastname@example.org.