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Sacrifices of all veterans remembered

November 12, 2012
By ESTHER MCCOY - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

SMITHFIELD - Lt. Col. Bryan Felmet, who served 21 years as a general's court advocate and received Meritorious Service Medals five times, stood beside a World War II Army tank at an area designated to look like a bunker at Fort Friendship in Friendship Park and talked of the sacrifices made by veterans from many wars.

Sunday's Veterans Day program was sponsored by the Jefferson County Veterans Association at the museum park where a Veterans Memorial Wall will be completed in the spring.

"We should endeavor to serve our veterans as well as they served our nation. Part of the sacrifice for veterans upon returning is unemployment or under employment at times. When they are deployed, it is America's business to see that veterans and their families don't suffer in the process," he said.

Article Photos

JOINING HANDS — During the singing of “God Bless the USA” by Ron Retzer at the Fort Friendship Veterans Day service on Sunday, veterans on stage in front of a World War II tank and audience members held hands. The Jefferson County Veterans Association sponsored the program. - Esther McCoy

He told of support systems offered by the American Legion organization, such as the Family Support Network and Operation Comfort Warriors to offer assistance.

Felmet quoted statistic showing that one in four of the homeless are veterans and nine out of 10 of those living on the streets were honorably discharged Vietnam veterans.

"In any police department or fire department, you will see that a high number of the staff are veterans. When an emergency hits, chances are it is a veterans who responds. Also veterans take their citizenship responsibility seriously, as 78 percent cast a vote on Election Day," he said.

"For their accomplishments and their dedication, we are forever grateful," Felmet concluded.

Commander Bill Smythe announced World War II veterans who were in the audience: Calvin Mayle, Art Panepucci, Leonard Corona and Glenn Macy.

He praised the Country Kids 4-H Club for decorating the bunker area of Fort Friendship. Suzanne Smarrella is one of the club's advisers and her dad, Walter Jancura, is a veterans association member.

Smythe praised the county members who spent two days laying brick on the backside of the Memorial Wall, where 220 bricks will memorialize family and friends. When spring arrives the original portion of the wall will be filled and there are 65 bricks awaiting the wings that need to be added to the project that has been funded by the Jefferson County commissioners, he noted.

Smythe praised Charles Greene for his carpentry and layout planning of the wall project, as well as Mike Panepucci, a new member of the association, and Sam Nardo, a brick layer, for their work on laying the backside of the wall.

Green was on hand to take orders for more engraved bricks and displayed how the finished project would look. The cost is $50 and can be paid to Tony Phillippi, treasurer.

William Duvall gave the reading, "The Sack Lunch," where a citizen on a long airplane trip notices the 10 military men were not buying the $5 sack lunches offered by the airline, as they had little money. He purchased the meal for the soldiers and was thanked by the airline attendant as she had a son in the military.

The generous passenger was passed $25 three times by others who appreciated his efforts and as the ride was nearing the end, he turned it over to one of the soldiers and told him to see that everyone got something else to eat before getting to their base.

Strizak gave the welcome as he has done throughout the services held at Friendship Park and at the conclusion of the program announced he would be retiring from the position. "It has been a privilege and honor to participate, and I tried to make each one interesting and of value to veterans and their families," he said.

As a member of the Dillonvale American Legion, he said Post 529 had the flag at half staff , lowering it for two days at a time for every soldier killed in Afghanistan.

"They lower the flag for the death of senators and even movie stars. That is not what the lowering of the flag was intended and we want to bring meaning to doing it," he said.

Ron Retzer provided the music.

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