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Special salutes to vets

by jmaloni
Fri, Nov 9th 2012 07:00 am

November is the time of year that veterans receive well-deserved thanks.

Among local observances in honor of Veterans Day are:

•The Town of Niagara Lions and Lioness Clubs will host their annual Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 12, at Veterans Heights Park in the Town of Niagara.

The park is located at the intersection of Lawson and Bellreng drives.

The ceremony will include the presentation of memorial wreaths by the Fredrick F. Cadille Post of the American Legion, the Ladies Auxiliary, the Sons of the American Legion, Brownie Troop 70008 Colonial Village School, and the Lions and Lioness, as well as the raising of the flag, speakers, and music.

The color guard will be provided by the Corps of Cadets. Opening and closing prayers will be offered by the Rev. Dr. Lee Holiday of Bacon Memorial Presbyterian Church. Taps and "The Star-Spangled Banner" will be performed by trumpet player John Janese, a Niagara-Wheatfield High School student. Speakers will be Joe Rizzotto, commander of the Fredrick F. Cadille Post of the American Legion; Gene Colucci, president of the Town of Niagara Business and Professional Association; Tom Watt of the Town of Niagara Lions Club; Town of Niagara Councilman Dan Sklarski: and Sgt. Kenneth Eason of the 914th Civil Engineers.

Brownies from Troop 70008 will present all veterans with an American flag lapel pin in appreciation of their military service, plus do a special performance of "It's a Grand Old Flag."

Following the ceremony, the Lioness will serve warm beverages and pastry at the St. Vincent DePaul Parish Center, 2748 Military Road, Town of Niagara.

Join the Town of Niagara Lions and Lioness Clubs in honoring veterans. For more information, contact Lion Angelo Onevelo at 628-0244, leave a message and your call will be returned.

•The traditional Veterans Day observance in Wheatfield will be at 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, at the town Highway Garage, 6860 Ward Road. Chowder will be served at the nearby American Legion Post 1451 at 6525 Ward Road after the ceremony. Bring worn out flags to the retiring of the flags ceremony at 2 p.m. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be sold at that time.

•Niagara County Community College will host its annual Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at NCCC's Veterans Memorial Park, 3111 Saunders Settlement Road, Sanborn.

The annual ceremony will be led by Anthony Garza, a student in the business administration program and a retired sergeant who served 13 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Patrick Welch, president and chief operating officer of Rembrandt Charms USA. Welch, a veterans advocate both locally and nationally, is the former director of the Erie County Veterans Service Agency. Most recently he was the director of the Center for Veterans and Family Services and an adjunct professor of social work at Daemen College.

Welch, a graduate of NCCC, was a recipient of the Purple Heart for his combat service in Vietnam.

The annual Veterans Day ceremony comes at a time when NCCC was named among the top military-friendly colleges for the third consecutive year.

•A Veterans' Benefits Information Day will be held from noon until 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, at Lewiston No. 2 firehall, 1705 Saunders Settlement Road in Colonial Village about two miles north of Military Road.

Learn about Title 38 benefits and other entitlements such as: medical care eligibility, pensions, home loan guarantees and state benefits and how to obtain DD214s and medical and service records.

The event is free and sponsored by the Marine Corps League, Bobo Detachment, and Lewiston No. 2.

•The Historic Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda presents the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas Veterans Day concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11.

Hear the 85-member American Legion National Championship Band, conducted by Michael Shaw, perform a symphonic pops program in the style and tradition of John Philip Sousa. On the program are famous marches, contemporary arrangements, and patriotic band spectaculars.

Tickets are $12. For further information, call the Riviera Theatre Box Office at 716-692-2413, or order online at www.rivieratheatre.org.

•The VA Western New York Healthcare System is celebrating Veterans Day with ceremonies honoring veterans at both the Batavia and Buffalo sites.

The ceremony at the Buffalo site will be at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at 3495 Bailey Ave., Room 301. Pastor Darius G. Pridgen, who is a U.S. Air Force veteran, will deliver the keynote address.

All veterans are encouraged to wear their medals.

•The Buffalo Museum of Science will offer free general museum admission to active and retired military members on Monday, Nov. 12, in observance of Veterans Day with the presentation of military ID, veterans ID or discharge papers and photo ID at the admissions desk.

The offer is good for one free admission per military personnel and does not apply to family members or other guests.

The museum is located at 1020 Humboldt Parkway in Buffalo and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

•Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk will sign copies of his authorized biography, "My True Course," in an event Saturday, Nov. 10, sponsored by the Niagara Aerospace Museum. The book signing will be from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Executive Air Share, adjacent to the Buffalo International Airport, at 485 Cayuga Road, Hangar Bay No. 7, Cheektowaga.

Van Kirk is the last living crewman, and was navigator, on the Enola Gay, the Silverplate B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Saturday afternoon, executive jets will be on display as well as images of the Enola Gay and the entire navigator's log of Special Mission No. 13.

"My True Course" is a 578-page hardcover book with more than 100 images. It includes unedited correspondence to and from home during the war, the entire navigator log of the Hiroshima mission, first person vignettes by Van Kirk and his own "Band of Brothers," an introduction by Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, Jimmy Doolittle's co-pilot on the Doolittle Raid, and some of the highlights of the book. Price of a signed book is $40, which includes tax.

Van Kirk, who lived and worked in Niagara Falls for DuPont in the early 1950s, was the lead navigator of the 97th Bomb Group during the early heavy bombing raids against German occupied Europe and North Africa during World War II. He served 58 missions in B-17s and then returned to the states to train other navigators. Van Kirk was chosen by Paul W. Tibbets Jr. to be the lead navigator for the 509th Composite Group in the Pacific Theater. This led to the first atomic strike on Hiroshima that helped to bring and end to the devastation and deaths of millions during World War II.

Friday evening, Van Kirk also will attend and speak at the Lewiston-Porter Junior ROTC veterans' dinner.

•The McGuire Group's Northgate Health Care Facility on Nash Road in Wheatfield is recognizing veteran Gordon Bagg for his service during World War II. He was born on Oct. 1, 1923, in St. Catharines, Ontario, and moved to the U.S. with his family at the age of 5.

He was an Army combat engineer for more than three years during World War II, serving in England, France and Germany. He was responsible for driving trucks of explosives and blowing up bridges. He and his company received the Presidential Unit Human Citation.

After his service, Bagg worked at Olin Mattieson and at Carborundum. After he retired, he worked for Acura of Amherst.

He is a member of the American Legion 1451 and VFW Post 54. He also served as the Niagara County post commander and received a 50-year membership from the American Legion on Oct. 14. He became a resident at Northgate in 2011 and continues to be very patriotic.

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