State and federal lawmakers who represent Blair County today in Altoona announced a November commemoration of the Vietnam War period, including an opportunity for veterans and their families to receive a Vietnam veteran lapel pin. A media event took place this morning at the American Legion in Hollidayburg.
Patrick Young, U.S. Army Veteran and director of Veterans Affairs for Blair County introduced Congressman John Joyce, State Representative Jim Gregory and Rocco Scalzo, president of Beating the Odds Foundation.
Scalzo announced that a special guest speaker will be featured at the commemoration: Rocky Bleier, a Vietnam War hero and four-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I had the opportunity to be part of the commission to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The pinning ceremony is really the first time that our government has been able to thank and honor specifically Vietnam veterans for their contributions and sacrifices made during the Vietnam War. It is also to recognize the sacrifices made by their families and friends. It is a lasting memento of a grateful nation. I am honored to be the keynote speaker for the ceremony in Altoona on Nov. 8,” Bleier said.
Eligible veterans or a designee from their family can receive a Vietnam veteran lapel pin being distributed as the nation marks five decades since the war.
“It is important we recognize the sacrifices made by veterans and their families. I’m happy to have this opportunity to pay tribute to their wartime contributions,” said Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair), who noted survivors of deceased veterans can obtain a pin in their memory.
“This commemoration is one small way we can honor the service of our Vietnam veterans. They fought for the ideals of the American people, and we must never forget their immense contributions to our nation,” U.S. Rep. John Joyce (R-Pa.) said.
The Blair County Veterans Affairs Office and James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center are partners in the event, which will take place November 8 at 1 p.m. Doors open at noon at the Jaffa Shrine Center at the intersection of Broad Avenue and 22nd Street in Altoona.
Sen. Judy Ward (R-Blair/Cumberland/Franklin/Fulton/Huntingdon) added that veterans from the era are owed so much. “Honoring them with this event and saying ‘thank you’ is the least we can do for these heroes,” Ward said.
“I would encourage all Blair County veterans from 1955 to 1975 to consider coming to this event so that we can honor them. This may give them the welcome and gratitude they didn’t experience when they returned home from overseas,” Rep. Lou Schmitt Jr. (R-Blair) said.
RSVPs are required to attend the event. Those who need a form to RSVP can contact Jennifer Mearkle at (814) 656-6081 or Jennifer.Mearkle@mail.house.gov, or Deb Pensyl Reasy at (814) 695-2398 or email@example.com.
Pinecroft and Excelsior fire companies shared public safety reports from August with Antis Township supervisors earlier this month.
In August, Pinecroft Fire Company responded to eight calls with seven in its district and one on Interstate 99, raising year-to-date incidents to 83. Volunteers also responded to four motor vehicle accidents, according to Jeff Mayers, deputy chief.
Training events in August included monthly in-house training, a vehicle rescue safety and technology updates class, and a drone Federal Aviation Administration certification class. The drone certification allows individuals to fly a drone under the FAA’s Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Rule. Another in house training coming up in September and additional drone classes.
August was a busy month with events, including National Night Out at the Bellwood-Antis pool, a craft show, Bingo, and two out-of-area parades. The company earned a first place victory for Best Appearing Tanker at both the Freedom Township and Shawnee Valley parades, as well as a trophy for “Farthest Distance” at Shawnee Valley.
Excelsior Fire Co. responded to 21 calls with six in Antis Township and two in Bellwood Borough, and several mutual aid calls. There were nine motor vehicle accidents for the month of August — seven with injuries reported, three dwelling fires, and one animal rescue.
Supervisors asked Jack McCloskey, assistance fire chief, about the animal rescue call.
“It was an osprey down at the Tyrone Ford dealer,” he said. They thought it was trapped on a pole; it was there for eight hours.
“It was sitting there eating a fish for eight hours.”
McCloskey explained that at the scene, onlookers and the Game Commission thought the bird’s foot was trapped. During response, fire department volunteers raised the ladder on the ladder truck and the osprey flew away.
It was also reported that Department of Community and Economic Development talked with both fire departments on September 5.
In August, Excelsior Fire Company held a firefighter refresher training for 32 hours and truck company operations training for 16 hours. Training for basic fire police, a firefighter refresher course, and rope rescue are slated for September, and two members will start EMT training for nine months.
A township emergency management coordinator said personnel is working on an updated emergency operations plan, which many municipalities are currently doing. Statewide emergency services training is to be held in Altoona this year at the Keystone Emergency Management Agency conference, October 27-29.
Tyrone area volunteer, Kelly Wike, has been recognized by President Donald Trump and humanitarian organization, ShelterBox USA, with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her efforts in 2018 to provide emergency shelter and supplies to people who have lost their homes to natural disaster or fled because of civil conflict.
With help from Wike’s efforts of raising awareness and funds for ShelterBox, the organization provided shelter and life-saving supplies to more than 210,000 people in 17 countries, including Kenya after severe flooding, the Philippines after Super Typhoon Mangkhut, Syria to support families affected by conflict, and many others.
“The lifesaving work of ShelterBox is only possible because of our inspiring volunteers like Kelly Wike, whose service in their communities is ensuring families made homeless by disaster and conflict situations have access to essential shelter and supplies.” said Kerri Murray, president of ShelterBox USA. “This distinction truly sets her apart as someone committed to serving others and making the world a better place.” ShelterBox provides humanitarian aid in the form of family-sized tents and essential tools to start repairing and rebuilding homes. Additionally, the organization’s kits and boxes contain items that help transform shelter into a home, like cooking sets, solar lights, blankets, water filtration, and mosquito nets.
The President’s Volunteer Service Award is a special recognition presented on behalf of President Donald Trump. The award is part of a national recognition program created in 2003 through the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation for individuals of all ages who contribute a significant amount of time to volunteer activities.
To volunteer, fundraise, or make a donation, visit www.shelterboxusa.org or call (941) 907-6036. Legacy giving and corporate giving options are available as well. ShelterBox USA is a 4-Star rated charity by Charity Navigator and has Platinum status from GuideStar.
Since 2000, ShelterBox has provided shelter, warmth, and dignity following more than 300 disasters in over 100 countries. ShelterBox responds urgently to earthquake, volcano, flood, hurricane, cyclone, tsunami, or conflict by delivering boxes of essential shelter aid and other life-saving supplies. Each iconic green ShelterBox contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, a water filtration system, emergency lighting, and other tools for survival. ShelterBox USA is based in Sarasota, Florida and Santa Barbara, California.