Owego Veterans Day service pays tribute to veterans

Owego Veterans Day service pays tribute to veterans

Ninety-one-year old U.S. Air Force Veteran Bill Wall from Sheshequin, Pa. was a special guest at the Nov. 11 Veterans Day service at the Tioga County Veterans Memorial in Owego, N.Y.  Wall is a veteran of three wars, including World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He shared some of his experiences with Jim Raftis, Master of Ceremonies, Korean War veteran and Memorial Day Chairman. (Photos by JoAnn Watler)

A bright blue sky and mild temperature welcomed the community to the Tioga County Veterans Memorial Park in Owego, N.Y. on Tuesday, Nov. 11. The Veterans Day service honored all American veterans, both living and deceased.

From New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s office, a press release issued on Tuesday, Nov. 11 stated, “Veterans Day is an important opportunity for us to pause and recognize the sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces. By answering the call of duty, our veterans put the needs of others before their own and built this state and nation into the land of liberty and opportunity that we know today.”

The Glenn A. Warner Post 1371 VFW Color Guard posted colors at the service, also representing Tioga Post 401 American Legion, Tioga County Marine Corps League, Chapter 480 Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans of Modern Warfare of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Deacon and veteran Mike Donovan of Blessed Trinity Parish and St. Patrick’s Parish delivered the invocation and benediction. Andrea McBride sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.

Jim Raftis, Sr., Master of Ceremonies, Korean War veteran and Memorial Day Chairman, asked special guest Bill Wall to approach the podium at the beginning of the service.

Wall, a ninety-one-year old U.S. Air Force veteran from Sheshequin Township, Pa., shared some thoughts and wartime experiences. Wall is a three-time war veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, service time that spans a remarkable 27 years.  During World War II, Wall served in England with the 8th Air Force and participated with flying in the Liberator Bomber, known at the time as the “flying coffin.”

Owego Veterans Day service pays tribute to veterans

Lt. Commander Aaron Kemp, chief of Flight Operations, Defense Contract Management Agency, at Lockheed Martin-Owego, placed a wreath in front of the Modern Day War Memorial at the Nov. 11 Veterans Day service at the Tioga County Veterans Memorial in Owego, N.Y.

Raftis announced, “Tioga County intends to be a Purple Heart county.”

Raftis would like to see Tioga County added as a Purple Heart county, to recognize recipients of the distinguished award, and needs help identifying those veterans.  Approximately ten counties in New York State are designated Purple Heart counties, including Broome, where twelve signs were placed in different locations along county highways. Purple Heart recipients can also be added to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, a national registry of military personnel wounded or killed during combat.

Several moments of silence took place during the service, including a moment of silence to remember veterans who have passed away since Memorial Day 2014 and also POWs and MIAs. Wreaths were placed in front of the memorials in memory of fallen heroes of all wars.

Raftis acknowledged Bill Chandler, member of Vietnam Veterans of America 480 and VFW Post 1371, who was a significant contributor and instrumental in the upgrade of the Tioga County Veterans Memorial Park. Also acknowledged was Netherlands resident Erwin Flohr, who visits the graves of fallen Tioga County soldiers buried in national cemeteries overseas.

Keynote speaker Jerry Marsh, a Newark Valley, N.Y. native and Vietnam veteran, spoke of Tioga County’s role in the Civil War. Marsh, who served in the U.S. Air Force, is a historian and author, and has researched history of Southern Tier Civil War soldiers. Marsh’s book, “The Brotherhood of Battle” depicts Newark Valley Civil War soldiers and families.

Owego Veterans Day service pays tribute to veterans

Master of Ceremonies Jim Raftis Sr. asked veterans older than age 90 to approach the podium at the Nov. 11 Veterans Day service at the Tioga County Veterans Memorial in Owego, N.Y. George and Helen Penney, ages 92 and 93, are both World War II veterans.

Volunteers from the 141st Pennsylvania and 137th New York Infantry performed two rifle salutes during the service. Participants traveled to Owego from various communities in Bradford County, Pa. Daughters of Union Soldiers of the Civil War were also present at the service.

If you or someone you know in Tioga County, N.Y. is a Purple Heart recipient, please contact Glenn A. Warner Post 1371 Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Day Chairman Jim Raftis by email to jraftis2@stny.rr.com or call (607) 687-4229.

Click here to view more photos from the Veterans Day event.