Mayor Robert Ortt, along with other federal, state and local officials, will be joining members of John Paul Bobo Chapter 264 for a dedication ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 12, at 10 a.m. in Raymond Klimek Veteran's park in North Tonawanda. The local Purple Heart Chapter has been working to erect a monument in the area, similar to the one which is located at the Servicemen's and Naval Park in Buffalo, to gain recognition for all wounded and killed veterans of all wars.
The Purple Heart Chapter 264 was originally chartered by an act of Congress on April 22, 1947. The chapter was re-chartered on June 10, 2010, to reflect its renaming to include Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Bobo.
"Our decision to have the monument placed in North Tonawanda was the result of a collaborative decision to have the monument in a very visible, well established, and appropriate location (located between the Marine Corps Memorial and the Seabees Memorial along the shores of the Niagara River). The fact that the mayors of both of the Tonawandas were combat veterans also played heavily in our location decision," said Chapter Adjutant Ronald Krul.
"It is always an honor to be able to recognize the sacrifice of our American warriors," Ortt said. "This monument is a reminder and a testament to the courage of the men and women who have not only served in combat, but who have been wounded and, in some cases, died in defense of our way of life. I am proud that Chapter 264 of the Order of the Purple Heart has chosen Raymond Klimek Veterans Park here in North Tonawanda as the location for this solemn memorial. The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration still given to U.S. military personnel, so it is fitting that there be a memorial for it."
Mike Targon, Commander of the local chapter and a wounded Vietnam veteran, said, "The mission of the Military Order of the Purple Heart is to foster an environment of goodwill and camaraderie among combat-wounded veterans, promote patriotism, support necessary legislative initiatives and, most importantly, provide service to all veterans and their families. We are pleased to be able to advance our mission by placing this monument in North Tonawanda Veterans Park to provide the well-deserved recognition for these veterans."
"Our chapter has received national recognition for two unique features in our membership," said Krul, a wounded Vietnam veteran. "First is the membership of City of Tonawanda Mayor Ronald Pilozzi (wounded in Vietnam) and his nephew, Nicholas Pilozzi (wounded in Afghanistan). And our chapter is the only chapter in the United States that has the honor of having a father and daughter membership. North Tonawanda Alderman-at-Large Robert Clark was wounded in Vietnam, and his daughter, Elena, was wounded in Afghanistan."
Since World War I, scores of Purple Hearts have been awarded to veterans.
"There are probably hundreds of Purple Hearts issued to veterans in Western New York, and we would like to invite the recipients to join our chapter and also attend the unveiling of the monument on Saturday, Oct. 12," Krul said. "They deserve to be recognized for their service and sacrifice."
Additional information about the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor can be found online at http://www.thepurpleheart.com/.