Alle-Kiski Valley servicemen honored during New Kensington ceremony
Mariann Waltz was moved by the notes of taps played during the Memorial Day observance Monday in New Kensington.
“It’s just very touching thinking about what the men and women went through,” she said. “I think of the pain and suffering they would’ve gone through while we’re safe at home. I think of the families who lost a loved one.”
Waltz was among residents across the Alle-Kiski Valley and the nation who took a moment at services, ceremonies and parades to remember and honor those who died serving in the armed forces.
“A lot of people gave up their lives for all the freedoms we have,” said Charles Blose of West Leechburg, who arrived well ahead of the start of a service at Greenwood Memorial Park in Lower Burrell.
Hundreds of American flags dotted the rolling hills of the cemetery. There was one on the grave of Donald Dill, who served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and died 30 years ago. His daughter, Candy George of Kiski Township, placed fresh flowers on the marker for her father and mother, Virginia, who died just last year.
Looking at the flags, she said, “It’s a wonderful feeling they are remembered. We should remember them.”
The service at Greenwood marked the first ceremony for the Lower Burrell American Legion Post 868’s new honor guard, said post Commander Clair Ewing.
Asked who he remembers on Memorial Day, Ewing immediately recalled Brian Coutch, who served in the Army, retired as a first sergeant in 2006, and died in March 2014 at age 47. He’s buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
“He came into this family broken from war,” Ewing said. “He was at our post every day. He contributed every day. There was nothing he wouldn’t do. He was totally dedicated to veterans. He epitomizes the word ‘veteran.’
“He was a hell of a man,” Ewing said. “We still miss him dearly.”
In New Kensington, a parade made its way down Fifth Avenue from Arnold to the Gold Star Mothers Memorial on Ninth Street, where a ceremony was held.
Fran Woytek’s grandson, Andrew Thompson, 20 months, was busy picking dandelions in a lot, but she knew something better was coming for him.
“He’s been fascinated by fire trucks,” she said, adding that his father, Jack Thompson, is a firefighter. “I can’t wait until he sees the parade.”
Woytek’s husband, Dennis, is a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy. She said it’s important to keep alive the memory of all those who fought for the country.
“It’s unbelievable what people have given up for our country,” she said.
New Kensington Mayor Tom Guzzo said words alone cannot repay the debt owed to men and women who “stood and rose to meet seemingly impossible odds and did extraordinary and unimaginable things.”
“We are obligated and indebted to these brave soldiers to always fight for the freedom for which they died,” he said. “Their lives must continually remind us that our freedoms did not come easily and must never be taken for granted.”
Retired Master Sgt. Angelo S. Enciso Sr., whose Army service spanned more than two decades, said after speaking at the New Kensington service that he’d go home, get out of his uniform and put up a new American flag in front of his home, along with a POW/MIA flag.
“We have a lot of Americans who paid the ultimate price for my freedom, and your freedom and all of our freedom,” he said. “We need, as a nation, to keep them in our memory and in our hearts.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701 or at [email protected].