Monessen WWII vets due recognition
When Ron Chromulak worked for the state Department of Labor in the early 1980s, he recalled that Allegheny County had more military veterans than 14 U.S. States had population.
But now, more than 600 World War II veterans die every day.
“We're losing so many of them daily,” said Chromulak, chairman of the Monessen Veterans Council.
At noon Saturday at the Herman Mihalich Memorial Boat Launch in Monessen, the council will honor 20 of the city's surviving World War II veterans.
Those scheduled to be recognized are: John Billy, Frank Biseda, Edmund Daumit, Lee Doman, Sam Fuoco, Cliff Jones, Jack Kerr, Rosemarie Kerr, Pierre Luti, Joe Maiolini, Steve Major, Gil Mihalich, Andy Mudron, Anthony Reda, Bernie Reday, Jack Snyder, Art Trilli, Bea Yakem, Mike Yusko, and Melvin Zubristky.
“That's the reason we wanted to do this,” Chromulak said. “Too many times, we wait until the funerals to talk about how much these guys sacrificed a lot. I think it's time for us to say thanks to the ones alive so they can be appreciated.”
Chromulak will serve as the keynote speaker.
The Mon Valley Honor Guard will participate, posting the colors and performing a rifle salute.
“Taps” will be played to “remember those who did not come back,” Chromulak said.
The awards are being presented at the Celebrate America Festival, sponsored by the American Medical Community Foundation.
Commemorative gifts for the veterans were donated by Robert Dojonovic, director of the foundation.
The Monessen Veterans Council will present each veteran with a certificate of thanks.
Chromulak said other area businesses are supporting the event.
“World War II veterans come from a lot of backgrounds, but they showed some of the same basic traits such as courage, pride, determination and dedication,” Chromulak said.
“They went because they knew our nation needed them. We were in big trouble and needed to protect our freedoms and liberties.”
Chromulak said many are unaware of what war veterans went through during their service.
“They were ordinary people doing extraordinary things under extreme conditions,” Chromulak said.
“There is very little we can do to thank them, but its thanks we need to give them for what they did.”
Chromulak said it is time for a grateful city to say thanks.
“We've done a lot of things for our veterans,” Chromulak said. “We've given them awards and monuments and named roads and bridges for them. But these are usually for the ones who never made it back.
“So we want to take this opportunity to recognize these few people while they are able to appreciate our gratitude for their service and sacrifice.”
Chromulak and the council he heads are planning a November parade in Monessen to honor all military veterans.
Council representatives were on hand Saturday at the Rostraver Township Kmart, collecting money that will be used to help finance the parade.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.