MT. ZION – Members of the Mt. Zion Historical Society, Vietnam Veterans of America Bucktail Chapter 720, and American Legion Post 978 all worked together to fulfill the dream of the late Ronald Guilyard on Saturday, dedicating a memorial at the Mt. Zion Historical Park in honor of the eight soldiers from Elk County who lost their lives during the Vietnam War.
The memorial contains a depiction of the country of Vietnam with the names of four of the deceased soldiers on each side. At the bottom, there is also an inscription explaining Guilyard’s influential role in the project.
“[Guilyard] passed away in February of this year due to a chemical that was sprayed in Vietnam, Agent Orange,” explained Ed Greenawalt, president of VVA Bucktail Chapter 720. “He tried to kick his cancer. He had it licked for a while. Every meeting [he] came to, right up until he died, he laid groundwork for each one of us that’s in the black shirts (members of the Vietnam Veterans Bucktail Chapter 720) here today. [He] told us what we needed to do to complete this ceremony and dedication for the KIAs. We made a commitment after Ronnie’s passing that we’d do whatever it takes and however it takes to make this successful.”
The eight soldiers who were honored for sacrificing their lives in the Vietnam War were:
Sgt. Larry Wayne Gardner – the son of Henry and Emma Weissenfluh Gardner, Larry served in the Marines and was killed on Jan. 21, 1967 after being wounded a few days prior in South Vietnam. He was the first Ridgway native and Elk County resident to die in the war.
Cpl. John Paul Paropacic – the son of Paul and Anna Mahovlich Paropacic, John served in the Marines and was killed on April 21, 1967. He was the first St. Marys native to die in the war.
Pfc. Robert Glen Willow – the son of Glen and Ida Belle Lynch Willow, Robert served in the Marines and was killed on Sept. 6, 1967. He was the first Johnsonburg native, and the youngest area resident, to die in the war.
Pfc. John Ellsworth Showers – the son of Jack and Mildred Glass Showers, John was a member of the Army and died on Oct. 8, 1967, a few days after saving the life of a fellow soldier during an attack by the Viet Cong. He was the only Benezette native to die in the war.
Pfc. Michael Allen Gigliotti – the son of Guiseppe and Frances Carino Gigliotti, Michael served in the Army and was killed on June 20, 1968. He was the second Johnsonburg native to die in the war.
TSgt. Paul Eugene Yonkie – the son of George and Marion Grady Yonkie, Paul served in the Air Force and died on Sept. 1, 1968, several weeks after being injured. He was the second Ridgway native to die in the war.
Pfc. Jerome Robert Sain – the son of John and Magdalene Detsch Sain, Jerome served in the Army and was killed on Jan. 21, 1970. He was the second St. Marys native to die in the war.
Cpl. Jerome Edward Bowers – the son of Jerome and Dorothy Gardner Bowers, Jerome served in the Army and was killed on April 18, 1970. He was the third Ridgway native to die in the war.
Pick up a copy of the Wednesday, May 30, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.