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More Mon Valley communities add banners honoring veterans

| Saturday, July 4, 2015, 12:41 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Trib Total Media
Laci Schwirian watches as her grandmother Sandra Uveges fills out an application for military banners for Uveges’ brother and father. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7632 Commander Rick Elster shows the personal-size version of a banner that is being put up in memory of Staff Sgt. Bryan A. Hoover, an Elizabeth Forward High School alumnus killed in action in Afghanistan.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Trib Total Media
The committee organizing the military banner program in the Elizabeth area includes Elizabeth Mayor V. Ann Malady (seated), Elizabeth Township Assistant Manager Bobbi Bickerton and, as displayed on banners on the Elizabeth Learning Center wall, veterans Charles DeBellis and Tom Cain.

The posting of banners honoring veterans of the nation's armed forces is becoming a familiar sight in Mon-Yough communities this summer.

“The banners are up from just prior to Memorial Day to just after Veterans Day,” said Rick Elster, commander of the Kastan-Uveges Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7632 in Elizabeth.

The post is putting up banners in Elizabeth and Elizabeth Township. Elizabeth Mayor V. Ann Malady said organizers “are opening our arms to people in Forward Township as well.”

A presentation was made in Forward in January, but no action was taken. The board of supervisors had questions about liability and pledged to seek permission from West Penn Power to use utility poles.

Malady and Elster are on the organizing committee for the Elizabeth area with veterans Tom Cain and Charles DeBellis and Elizabeth Township Assistant Manager Bobbi Bickerton.

Announcement of the effort at an Elizabeth council meeting prompted at least one Daily News reader to sign up.

“(Sandra Uveges) called me and immediately sent me a picture and a check,” Elster said.

Uveges and her husband Stephen brought their granddaughter Laci Schwirian to the Elizabeth Learning Center — the old elementary school at 207 Third Ave. downtown — to sign up Sandra Uveges' brother and father.

Samuel Tyhonas Sr. was a private in the Army in World War II, and Samuel Tyhonas Jr. was a sergeant in the Air Force who served in Vietnam.

Stephen Uveges' uncle is Army Private First Class William Uveges, who was killed in action on March 12, 1945.

William Uveges and Army Private Charles “Lefty” Kastan, who was killed in action on Feb. 27, 1944, are memorialized in the name of Elizabeth's VFW post.

In the Elizabeth area the cost is $80 for one 24-by-36-inch banner that will be displayed by the borough or township, and includes mounting hardware to hang the bracket on a telephone pole, two 12-by-18 inch banners for personal display and a presence on the Elizabeth Area Military Tribute website.

Banners are being made by HTM Designs of Castle Shannon. Those with technical questions about the banners can email Harry Munson of HTM at

Others already memorialized in the Elizabeth area include Staff Sgt. Bryan A. Hoover, an Elizabeth Forward High School alumnus killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010.

Signups are scheduled July 16-18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Elizabeth Learning Center, and July 20 from 3 to 7 p.m. and July 21-22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Elizabeth Township Municipal Building, 522 Rock Run Road.

Organizers ask that checks be made payable to VFW KU Post 7632.

Other communities with banners are Duquesne, West Mifflin, Dravosburg, Bethel Park, Venetia, Finleyville and Monongahela.

McKeesport is about to begin its banner program. Elster is working with city Councilwoman Jamie Brewster-Filotei and Burt Foster American Legion Post 361 Commander Bobbie Billsborrow.

Banners in the city are $100. Brewster-Filotei said part of the extra fee may be needed to cover costs of putting the banners up, and what is left would go toward the Post 361 fund for lunches and other needs at its functions.

At this week's city council workshop, Brewster-Filotei said signups would take place each Thursday in July from 4-7 p.m., in the veterans room at the McKees Point Café in the Palisades.

Brewster-Filotei said those seeking to be part of McKeesport's program are asked to bring a picture and a copy of the DD214 release form.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or

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