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Vets dedicate monument to Dupont residents killed in action

The Citizens' Voice - 5/29/2024

DUPONT — Hundreds of people lined the streets of Dupont on Monday to witness a parade honoring U.S. service members who died for their country, and gathered for the dedication of a new memorial monument to honor those service members who called the borough their home.

Following the parade from Dupont VFW Post 4909 on Grant Street to the borough municipal building, master of ceremonies and AmVets Post 189 Commander Bernie McDonald greeted attendees and thanked them for showing their support to his fellow veterans.

McDonald said a committee was formed in 2020 to purchase and erect a permanent monument honoring the 57 Dupont residents who perished in service to their country.

“That’s the sacrifice that veterans are always going to make. And we’re proud of these veterans who are being memorialized here today,” McDonald said.

Prior to the monument dedication, veterans John Milewski and John Pliska performed a ceremonial folding of a 48-star U.S. flag and presented it to lifelong borough resident Bill Lukasik.

It was the flag that was draped over the casket of his great-uncle, Joseph Motiska, who was killed in action in France during World War I and was the first borough resident killed in action in service to their country.

McDonald and fellow veterans Bob Lopata, Joe O’Hara and John Melewski unveiled the monument. VFW Post 4909 Commander Tim Bender and 89-year-old World War II veteran Sam Guarnieri laid a memorial wreath in front of it.

Borough Council President Stanley Knick thanked everyone involved in the Veterans Memorial Monument Project.

“Today is a day to remember and honor all the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so we can be here today. There are 57 men from Dupont who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Knick said. “Thank you for being here today to help celebrate the lives and legacies of those we have lost but are never forgotten and always deeply honored.

Borough Mayor Elaine Lello said the memorial prayer garden and the monuments in which they are placed will remind anyone who passes by “what all of these men and women and all of these (veterans) organizations have given us — our freedom, our country, our America —and they’re still fighting for us.”

McDonald and Bender were prepared to place a memorial wreath at the new monument, but McDonald asked World War II veteran Sam Guarnieri to stand in for him.

State Rep. James Haddock, D-116, Pittston Twp., who worked with state Sen. Marty Flynn, D-22, Dunmore, to secure funding that helped with the monument purchase, said a debt of gratitude is owed to all service men and women “who have paid the ultimate price.”

“For a small town the size of Dupont to have lost 57 sons in the line of duty is simply staggering. Dupont has certainly paid a steep price to keep America free,” Haddock said. “So, the next time you hear, ‘Freedom is not free,’ think of these 57 men and say a prayer.”

Dupont resident and Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Fred Pierantoni thanked the veterans and VFW and AmVet members who every year “give us the opportunity to come together and share our common bond as Americans and celebrate patriotism.”

“The way we must support them is by coming out every Memorial Day to honor those who have died and those who have served,” Pierantoni said.

Valerie Nidoh, president of the VFW Post 4909 Auxiliary, asked that attendees remember all who gave their lives in service and asked for blessings on the families of all service members.

Principal speaker Peter Townsend, who served in the U.S. Army on active duty from 1982 to 1986, an era typically referred to as a time of peace, recalled returning from Operation Urgent Fury in 1983 to his duties at Fort Lewis, but his good friend, U.S. Army Ranger Russell Robinson, with whom he had trained, did not. Robinson, 22, was killed with seven other rangers on Oct. 25, 1983 in Grenada.

The object of my remarks today is to remind us that even during peacetime, sometimes our service men and women are called upon to make the supreme sacrifice. I pray that their sacrifice will not be forgotten,” Townsend said.

Parade marshal Lou Posly said those who say there are no heroes in this time “just don’t know where to look. All you have to do is look at the bronze markers in our two cemeteries and the white markers on the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery.”

Members of the veterans organizations presented plaques to Townsend, Posly and borough Councilman Mark Kowalczyk, who provided the memorial brick walkway and landscaping for the monument project.

McDonald encouraged everyone to “take the time, walk over, read the memorial, read the engraved bricks.”

“This is what we are as veterans — we’re a family, and this is the way we’ll always remain,” McDonald said. “So, when you’re with your families today, take the time and realize what sacrifices veterans have made so that you could be free.”


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