The Tribune-Democrat: VETERANS DAY: Thousands line Johnstown streets to wave flags, pay tribute
John Barley joined thousands in downtown Johnstown for the annual Veterans Day Parade, paying tribute to those who served.
Barley understands the sacrifice that comes with military service.
He served in the Marines during the Vietnam War.
“Somebody needs to honor them (veterans),” said Barley, of Adams Township, who attended Tuesday’s parade with his wife, Joanne, and their pet Shih Tzu.
“They made sacrifices for our country,” Barley said.
The downtown streets were lined with people waving flag
s and cheering during the Conemaugh Valley Veterans’ 18th annual Veterans Day event.
At a ceremony in Central Park following the parade, the master of ceremonies, retired Army Lt. Col. Marty Kuhar, told the crowd that the parade was being held in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
He read the names of the four Gold Star families from the Johnstown area who were in attendance: Reed Sr. and Josephine May, who lost their son, Reed Jr., in Vietnam; James and Sandra Sidola, who lost their son, Aaron Rusin, in Iraq; Richard and Carol Jean Buchan, who lost their son, Raymond, in Iraq; and Patty Crew, whose husband, Air Force Maj. James Crew, remains missing in action after his plane was shot down over Vietnam. With Patty Crew were her daughter, Diane, and grandson, Joseph.
“The four families alone give us a reason to be here,” Kuhar said.
Ed Wojnaroski Sr., chairman of Conemaugh Valley Veterans, paid homage to World War II veteran Harry Plows of Johnstown, who inspired the parade by marching alone down Main Street 19 years ago.
U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, told the crowd that with the theme of the parade being the 70th anniversary of D-Day, it was an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices U.S. soldiers made during that time.
Gov.-elect Tom Wolf told the crowd that there are three ways to honor veterans, including by attending events such as this parade. Another is by following through on freedoms such as voting.
The third?is by making sure veterans are given the opportunity to excel in private life as they did in the military.
Guest speaker, retired Air Force Col. Karen Esaia of Westmont, told the crowd that many men and women from the Johnstown area?have served in the military. They have served or are serving to defend the Constitution against all enemies, she said.
The Conemaugh Valley Detachment of the Marine Corps League conducted flag-raising and flag-lowering ceremonies. Darlene Seals sang patriotic songs. The Rev. Bill Thwing, the Conemaugh Valley Veterans chaplain, gave the invocation and benediction.
Also in attendance were Johnstown Mayor Frank Janakovic; Johnstown Councilmen David Vitovich and Bill Gentile; Cambria County Commissioners Doug Lengenfelder, Tom Chernisky and Mark Wissinger; Ed Cernic Sr. of the state Transportation Commission; Cambria County Controller Ed Cernic Jr.; state Sen. John Wozniak, D-Westmont; state Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Johnstown; and former Johnstown congressman Mark Critz.
Tom Gross, of Ferndale, was at the parade to watch his grandson, Jimmy Gross, march with Cub Scout Pack 75 of Richland Township.
“I came here to support veterans,” Tom Gross said. “They are the reason we are able to stand around and watch the parade in freedom,” he said.
Justin McDonald of Westmont was watching the parade with his son, Dylan, 12, and daughter, Neena, 7.
“We came here to enjoy the parade, celebrate Veterans Day and honor the people who have served our country,” Justin McDonald said.
Gary Sloan, of Ebensburg, said he attended the parade to support veterans and his nephew, Owen Stetson, who was with the Conemaugh Valley High School marching band.
Sloan is proud of the service of his father, Terry Sloan, and late grandfather, Eugene Sloan.
Veterans of two personal-care homes – Presbyterian Home of Greater Johnstown in Upper Yoder Township and The Atrium in downtown Johnstown – were honored in ceremonies at their complexes.
At the Presbyterian Home, veterans Lyle Kline, John Bohachick, John Horner, George Patton, Stanford Reighard, Mark Schumacher, Vincent Bremer, Pete Povich, Vita Tanase, Don Wendel, Leroy Lose, John Mino, Kathrine Twardziak, Ruth Birch and David Krise were honored.
At Atrium, Andrew Belko, Gary Bigam, Dean Bracken, Ray Cushman, Louis Farkas, George Gaydos, Donald Haney, Carl Jeske, Michael Lihvarik, William March, Steven Subich and Frank Terchanik were honored.
Tammy Honkus, co-owner of RJ’s Cafe & Lounge and her barmaid, Lisa Richardson, took a break from working to honor veterans by watching the parade.
“Because they fought for our freedoms, we should be here to support them,” Honkus said.
Richardson said it was encouraging to see the amount of support for veterans at the parade.
“It’s important to honor veterans,” she said.
“They are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. They deserve our respect.”
John Mavrodis, of Johnstown – former owner of Johnnie’s Lounge downtown – was one of many people waving American flags. “God bless America,” he said. “God bless our troops.”