Banners honor service members in Irwin, North Huntingdon
On Main Street in Irwin and along Norwin Avenue in North Huntingdon, banners honoring local active-duty military personnel and those killed in action have flown since mid-April.
At VFW Post 781 in North Huntingdon, the Rotary Club of Norwin held a Military Banner Roll Call Ceremony on Saturday morning to honor the individuals pictured on those banners as well as their families.
While on vacation in Southern California last year, Rotary members and banner program co-chairs Frank and Mary Aiello noticed banners hung in Temecula honoring active-duty military personnel from the city and knew they needed to bring a similar program home with them.
“Mary and I took our program to all our support organizations. No one said no,” Frank Aiello said. “There isn't anybody in the community that would say no to this program. And what a wonderful program it is. Out of sight, out of mind? Not anymore. Not in our community.”
Families received miniature replica banners during the Armed Forces Day ceremony and will be given the full-size 47-by-22-inch banners when they're taken down in November, Frank Aiello said.
When pitching the idea of hanging the banners, the Aiellos first contacted the parents of Lt. Col. Christopher “Otis” Raible, who died leading a counterattack against enemy forces on Sept. 14, 2012, at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Raible's photo was used on the banner prototype displayed on promotional flyers distributed throughout the community and to area businesses, and his banner was one of the first hung for display.
“I think it's a wonderful program, and I actually wish other communities would all start adopting it,” said Raible's mother, Kim, of North Huntingdon. “When he died, I thought, ‘Does anybody appreciate what these people give up, what the military gives up? Do they realize?' I found out that they do.”
Army Capt. Jaycee Archinal of North Huntingdon was one of a handful of active-duty members of the military able to be present for the ceremony. Her son, Army Rangers Spc. Lee Archinal, also has a banner hung in his honor.
“It's an honor for me to serve, and to have the support from the community is just awesome. I can't say enough about it,” she said. “People forget because it's gone on for so long. I just want them to still be honored and their families still to be honored.”
To date, 34 banners have been mounted, and Frank Aiello said eight more will be ready to go up soon. A total of 65 sites are being eyed for the banners, Aiello said.
“This is like icing on top of the cake,” said Marlyn Shipley of North Huntingdon, who fought for years to have her son, Marine Corps Cpl. Michael Don Shipley, listed as being killed in action after he died aboard a chartered airplane that exploded on Dec. 12, 1985, over Gander, Newfoundland. “It's like coming out of the hat, like a magical day. I'd dreamt of this all this time.
“I'm glad their doing it because it shows they do care,” she added. “They should recognize all these young men and women. They're giving their lives to keep us alive. Give them credit, and for them to do this is just miraculous. I can't even put into words how much it means. My heart is thumping so hard, you can't imagine.
“It means so much to me just to see these men and women honored.”
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Coming off hill revives Seton Hill University, downtown Greensburg
- Westmoreland community leaders discuss how to meet hunger needs
- Marathoner hit by vehicle in Murrysville recuperates
- Mutual Aid plans fundraising throughout Westmoreland County to bolster member numbers
- ‘Bride’ goes on at Geyer theater in Scottdale
- Fines against MAX Environmental up to Westmoreland judge
- Charges filed in stolen property investigation
- 4 seek 3 nominations for Southwest Greensburg council
- Deputies nixed by county commissioners for Westmoreland Air Show
- 4 sentenced for roles in botched Lower Burrell heist
- Mt. Pleasant Township home destroyed by fire