Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on November 11, 1998 · Page 88
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 88

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Wednesday, November 11, 1998
Page 88
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i W-6 PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1998 Veteran memorials abound from Neville Island to Oakdale By Ken Fisher" Post-Gazette Staff Writer Rich Mackey of Coraopolis, a U.S. .Army veteran who served in Viet-, nam, admits that his eyes stray to the side of the road nearly every . time he drives along Grand Avenue on Neville Island. Mackey said he can't help glancing toward the war memorial, which bears the names of veterans who lived on the island. "It's a great feeling and makes you feel really proud to see your name there," said Mackey, who was born and raised in Neville. "It's a Eermanent tribute to all of us who ave served." Monuments .to veterans are found throughout western Allegheny County. Some carry the names of those who died in battle, others list those who have served and some offer a general tribute to veterans without fisting any names. Z. Ron Conley of Scott, past com-tnander of thePennsylvania American Legion, said monuments "are living symbols of our past. In order for us to look forward, we must remember where we came from." In most towns, the markers are the centerpiece of annual Memorial - Day observances. In other cases, $hey stand quietly in tribute to veterans. i Neville's monument is land-escaped with shrubs and flowers. A ;flag pole rises next to it. There is a 4)ench, a small cannon and a chain-Jlink fence guarding the site. The memorial is illuminated each night. f, Kennedy' s memorial is in Fairhaven Park. Crescent has a monument along Route 51. Findlay has an honor roll on Main Street in Imperial and another in front of the 'municipal building on Route 30 in 'the Clinton section. J; Mackey said his Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Coraopolis has a jmemorial in front of its building at Fifth Avenue and Mulberry Street. There's a plaque with names in ifront of the library, j McKees Rocks has a memorial Ranked with shrubbery, a flag pole and marble benches at the bor-fough's entrance on Chartiers Av World War II veteran remembers days behind enemy lines .VETERAN FROM PAGE W-1 tlanded, he saw his plane crash. LThen he hit a timber fence with his I back and was knocked out for sever-M minutes. iHe awoke a fugitive. l" A few hours earlier, he had been Ift a friendly country where everyone spoke English. Now, any word I M uttered would betray him. fHe stayed on the lam, hiding in ? forests, sleeping in crawl spaces he l$jg under the roots of trees, living candy bars and vitamins. He f ftfuld feel himself getting tired and I careless. Z After five days, he was captured i in a clearing by a German civilian carrying a squirrel rifle, j The civilian walked Pawlesh to a beer and dance hall that would j serve as his temporary jail. Pawlesh j absurdly felt he had stumbled into j the plot of a Hollywood war movie. In spite of the grim situation, he couldn't help laughing. Pictures of I Hitler, Goering and other Nazi offi- cials stared down from the walls like (set decorations. He was taken to the home of the local head of the Ger-! man People's Army. He was given ! dark bread and a cup of coffee. 5 "In came a Gestapo guy with a ; riding crop. A blond woman who ! spoke English was with him." After the interpreter questioned Pawlesh, j she delivered the classic line, so fa-t miliar to World War II movies: I "For you, the war is over." i s In enue at McKees Rocks Plaza shopping center. Borough Manager Bill Beck said it was dedicated in 1969. In addition to veterans, it honors John Pinder with a granite headstone and bronze plaque. Pinder was a World War II Congressional Medal of Honor winner who was killed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. "The memorial honors McKees Rocks veterans who served to preserve our freedoms and traditions," Beck said. "It important to the men and women who risked their lives. ..They all take pride in it." Conley, who served in the Air Force in Guam from 1963 to 1966, said Scott moved its memorial from the former John Dewey School on Route 50 to the township park. "This has brought more recognition for veterans in Scott," Conley said. "It honors all men and women without any names." Bridgeville last month moved its memorial from in front of the former Washington Elementary School to the 400 block of Washing-. ton Avenue in the heart of the business district. It consists of three granite sections bearing the names of World War I and II veterans. Borough officials are considering adding the names of those who served in Vietnam, Korea and the Persian Gulf war. The Oakdale memorial on No-blestown Road in the center of town was refurbished this year. It honors World War I and II veterans. It is adorned with shrubs and lights. Stowe has a memorial at the high school. Ingram has a World War I honor roll. A plaque of Vietnam veterans is outside the municipal building. A World War II honor roll is inside. Carnegie has memorials on Beechwood Avenue near the library arid in Carnegie Park, but neither lists names. The borough's Historical Society is compiling names of veterans to display on a military wall planned for next year. A veterans' memorial at the Collier Sportsmen's Association was rejuvenated as part of an Eagle Scout project by Kevin Cannon. The stone memorial pays tribute to 111 Not quite. Pawlesh was to spend more than a year at Stalag 17, a prison camp for aviators near Krems, Austria. t When he finally got to Stalag 17 after traveling for days in a boxcar, he was allowed to shower, his head was shaved and he was given some winter clothing supplied by the Red Cross. During his first meal, an American POW band serenaded new prisoners with tunes, using instruments supplied by the Red Cross. Pawlesh felt it was good to be alive. Comradeship helped the captives through their ordeal. "A lot of guys were from New York and they had acted on Broadway," he remembered. The New Yorkers organized plays for the American prisoners to perform in. Some men learned to knit, trading soap from Red Cross packages to German guards jn exchange for yarn from the black market. The prisoners had no knitting needles, so they used a metal cutter to surreptitiously remove spokes from the German commandant's bicycle. So many were removed that the bicycle eventually collapsed. "The commandant was a good guy who had lost his family in a bomb raid and he always wore a black armband on his arm. He never did anything to really harm us," Pawlesh said. Every night, some of the prison Providing you and your COMPLETE AND COMPREHENSIVE MEDICAL dermatology Maria V. Pucevich, M.D. (412) 262-1064 general surgery Olu R. Sangodeyi, M.D. (412) 269-9665 . internal medicineprimarv care Timothy J. Kross, M.D. (412) 262-5860 internal, medi fineprimary care Fouad A. Bassilios, M.D. (412) 262-4130 Family Health Center Moon 935 Thorn Run Road Moon Township affiliated with Sewickley Valley Hospital y, ........... . , -" " n u 4 War memorial in McKees Rocks. Collier men and women. Crafton has a memorial in front of the borough building on Stotz Avenue and Crennell Street. South Fayette has one in Cuddy. North Fayette has honor rolls in its No-blestown, Sturgeon and Santiago neighborhoods. Robinson has two memorials one at Burkett School on Route 60 and one in Groveton on Route 51. Maintaining memorials and erecting new ones has captured local and national attention. On Monday, the chairman of the ers would listen to the BBC on a secret radio. They wrote down the news and distributed it to other airmen, who visited each barracks to read the latest bulletins. "On D-Day, everybody cheered," Pawlesh said. When American bombers came over the camp, the prisoners would climb on the roofs and cheer, and the pilots would wiggle their wings "to let us know they were there." But life in Stalag 17 was no picnic. Water and electricity were scarce in the unheated barracks. Blankets were thin and skimpy. Ninety percent of the prisoners' food came from Red Cross parcels, which arrived weekly unless they were held up by Allied bombing raids. A parcel "was no more than what you would eat at home for one meal," according to Pawlesh. Friends would team up to share and ration food together. Bread would be sliced as thin as possible. The German captors had little food themselves. They gave the Americans hot water every day to make coffee and occasionally contributed potatoes or barley. "We were hungry all the time," said the 5-foot-6 12-inch Pawlesh, noting that he dropped from 135 pounds to 110. Pawlesh dreamed about big steak dinners with all the trimmings. He thought always of his wife and kept a diary with her picture pasted on the front. On the cover page he wrote "To My Wife, Whose spiritual family with pedodontics (dentistry for children and adolescents) Edward M. Benz, D.M.D. (412) 262-5480 rheumatology Charles L Pucevich, M.D. (412) 262-1064 mammography services. ultrasound, lab and X-ray Diagnostic Services at Moon (412) 262-4161 or (412) 749-7240 o John HellerPost-Gazette Regional Asset District board appointed a committee to review a funding request to upgrade Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland, replace the roof and bring the hall into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In Washington, D.C., former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole has pledged to raise $100 million for a World War II memorial on the Mall. Veterans organizations are hoping to break ground by Veterans Day 2000 and dedicate the memorial in 2002. presence has been a source of daily comfort and ease of mind during troublesome times." Pawlesh and Margaret Deckon had been sweethearts at McKees Rocks High School and married when Pawlesh was on furlough. One of Pawlesh's friends in Stalag 17 sketched a portrait of Margaret, taken from her photograph, that showed her lovely smile and her long, curly, movie-star hairstyle. Pawlesh said the Americans never doubted the Allies would win. The question was: when? In the spring of 1945, "Patton's men came flying through with their Jeeps" and Pawlesh knew he was going home. Back in Pennsylvania, Pawlesh worked for the American Bridge Co. in Ambridge in the template shop, eventually becoming a foreman. He and his wife raised two children, Barbara Kruze of Moon and Tom, a USAirways pilot who lives in Jefferson. When it was cold, he turned up the thermostat and when he was hungry, he ate. But part of him would always be at the prison camp in Austria. He saw the movie "Stalag 17," starring William Holden, and said the plot came very close to real life, including the part where the Americans successfully hid a prisoner from the Germans. In the movie, they put the prisoner in a water tank. CARE.. dialysis Thorn Run Dialysis Center (412) 269-2304 MR1 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (412) 269-1674 oncology Thorn Run Regional Oncology Center (412) 269-2375 rehabilitation therapy Physical, Occupational & Speech Therapy (412) 269-9590 For additional information on services or physicians, call (412) 749-7129 or (724) 773-4636. COLLIER Officials working to make Flag Day an extravaganza By Carole Gilbert Brown Tn-State Sports & News Service If state Sen. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, and Collier Commissioner Doreen Ducsay have their way, the next Flag Day in Collier will be a red-white-and-blue extravaganza of national proportion. That's because Flag Day, which occurs annually June 14, was the vision of the late William T. Kerr, who lived in Collier's Rennerdale neighborhood from 1911 to 1928. Kerr spent most of his life making that dream a reality. Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Congressional bill that made Flag Day a national holiday. So, June 14, 1999, will be of special significance. "My intent is that everybody in Collier Township has a flag in their yard that day," said Ducsay. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission already has authorized and donated $650 for a roadside marker commemorating Kerr as the "Father of Flag Day" and noting his residency in the township. But Ducsay and Murphy aren't content with just that. They want to erect a flag and granite monument at Webb Field in Rennerdale as a tribute to Kerr and the community that supported him. And, they'd love to do it in a big way and with the help of Collier residents and government leaders like Gov. Ridge and Hillary Clinton, who is the honorary national chairwoman of the American Flag Day Association. Ducsay wants next year's Flag Day observance to be accompanied by the same fanfare that township residents enjoyed in celebrations many years ago. She also hopes the event will resurrect the Collier Historical Society. And, she's considering moving Collier's Heritage Days to June to coincide with Flag Day. Kerr, a lawyer who wrote the bills that gave Pennsylvania its first compulsory education laws and provided free textbooks for schoolchildren, was born in Pittsburgh's 7th Ward in 1868. His patriotism stemmed in part from his fascination with his father's Civil War stories. When, at age 14, he was asked to make a July 4 address in Chicago, Kerr stated Americans should have Walter Pawlesh stands next to the uerman prisoner or war camp. But here's what happened in real life, according to Pawlesh: An Allied soldier, possibly British, had killed someone. The Germans captured him and sent him to a I ikml . - - ! a special day to celebrate the flag just as they have July 4 to honor ' their independence. Nine presidents would take office before his lifelong mission was accomplished. Six years later, in 1888, he start the American Flag Day Association! of Western Pennsylvania. June" 14 fi was selected as Flag Day because ; that was the day in 1777 that the r First Continental Congress adopt ed the Stars and Stripes as the newj nation s official flag. . ,: in mo. is.err creaiea me nation wide American Flag Day Associa tion and served as its president fori more than 50 years. 1 hat same ffl year, he organized the first Flag ft ween ceieDraiion inai cuuiunaiea with a parade Downtown. Kerr's crusade continued after he moved his family from Midway, Washington County, to Columbia i Avenue in Rennerdale in 1911. A "i meetins five vears later with PreSil dent Woodrow Wilson led Wilson to issue a proclamation suggesting j 1 , tnat communities ooserve r lag Day. : : $ It was a proclamation thatlah nerdale took to heart The cotmtiii niry sponsored elaborate Flag Day festivities that included costumed re-enactments, parades and eerg monies. : But Kerr was still not satisfied In 1927, he asked Pittsburgh : ' H schoolchildren to donate a penny!; each for a flag monument in Scheji! ley f arK. a total oi ihb.iw pennies were collected to erect the mbnu-1 ment, which is the only one of itsH! kind in the world to honor the - $ American flag. -1 Kerr next worked to have indH vidual states recognize Flag Day. j! Pennsylvania was the first state to enact Flag Day as a holiday, in 193" Finally, in 1949, the 81st Congress; approved the Flag Day bill. , On Aug. 3, 1949, an 80-year-old ij Kerr stood by President Harry Try man s side as Truman signed, the legislation. He died four years later. "IKerr s storyj should be an inspiration to all young people to never give ud on something vou want to happen," Ducsay said. "JTs really neat that Collier was lucky. enough to have him as a resident." People who want to help with the Collier Historical Society and'or Flag Day 1999 should submit their names to the township administrative office. memorial for prisoners of Stalag 1 7; a civilian prison by train. There was a layover at Stalag 17, and the soldier I was put in one ot the barracks. "Our guys said, 'We can't let the Germans take you out of. here. They'll kill you.' They hid him in a room dug olt the latrine," Pawlesh said. , "Next morning, we don't know I anything. The Gestapo came,.;in,l madfi US Pet nut (if thp harrnnlre n'nH I strip to the waist," searching for a tattoo that identified the missing prisoner. "This went on for a couple of days, then they left it go." At the end of the war, the man who had been hidden in the latrine marched out with all the other prisoners. He had been hiding for-sevf r al months. ' ; Pawlesh had a very happy siir prise reunion before he left Europe. In a chow line in a mess hallnr LeHavre, France, where he sjaf waiting for a ship to take him home he ran into his crew mates from the B-17 that had crashed over Ger many. All had made it out alive. t I Pawlesh recently made two trips to Europe to tour places he had been during the war. He met and be came mends with some German! who had pictures of his demolisrjed plane. Pawlesh continues to writd to ms new rnends. 9 On one of his trips, he visited flie former site of Stalag 17. It's now he site of a small airfield for gliders a)ii Piper Cubs. The rest is farmlajid finally, swords had been turned ' into plowshares. J A,

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