Heroes recognized: Local veterans given overdue honors

Matt Schickling, the Wire

Daniel Rose looked around the main room at Morell-Smith American Legion Post #440 in Newtown Tuesday morning with a smile on his face. Surrounding him were veterans of World War II, the Vietnam War and the Korean War.

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“I’m not even in the same league as them,” said Rose, who is now a Montgomery Township police officer. “It’s incredible to be around these types of veterans.”

But when he walked up to receive his Purple Heart, almost a decade overdue, they probably felt the same way about him.

Rose was wounded while serving with the U.S. National Guard in Iraq in the mid-2000s. Like the other 9 veterans being honored that day, Rose might have never received this recognition if he waited around for it to happen.

“There’s people here that probably wrote it off, thought nobody cared,” Rose added. “To have an advocate like this is unbelievable.”

He was talking about Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, whose staff includes military and veterans’ affairs caseworkers. These workers assist veterans with an array of services, but for this event, they sought to give due honor to veterans who, for various reasons, were overlooked in receiving proper honor.

“Many times veterans were injured in the field of battle and brought back to the United States to rehabilitate and the recognition never caught up,” Fitzpatrick said. “It is important…that the thanks of the nation is delivered.”

Another veteran, John Finn, who served with the U.S. Air Force in the Vietnam War, waited over 40 years to receive his recognition.

“In my case, it was just a mass of people going through the discharge process. The military just doesn’t do it. They were overwhelmed,” he said. “I called Mike’s office and he took it from there.”

Finn, a Warminster resident, received four medals: the Air Force Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal; and Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon.

“It’s a great feeling,” he said after the small ceremony.

Fitzpatrick also awarded two veterans posthumously.

He presented nine medals to honor World War II U.S. Army veteran Rocco Maraccio. His daughter, Rosemarie Joseph, accepted the medals. David Bryk, son of U.S. Army veteran Henry Bryk, accepted eight medals on behalf of his father, who also served in World War II.

“Men and women, who for the most part volunteered to serve, left their families and the safety of their communities to go to some pretty exotic and unsafe places around the world to defend this nation and to protect other nations,” Fitzpatrick said. “Every military member and veteran deserves to have their service recognized and appreciated.”

Full list of those recognized:

Henry Bryk (Deceased) — Presented to son, David Bryk
US Army, World War II
Received eight medals:
Army Good Conduct Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one Bronze Star Attachment
World War II Victory Medal
Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII
Expert Badge and Carbine Bar
Marksman Badge and Rifle Bar

Dale Cummings
US Army, Korean War
Received four medals:
Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp
National Defense Service Medal
Cold War Recognition Certificate
Honorable Service Lapel Button (Ruptured Duck)

John Finn
US Air Force, Vietnam War
Received four medals:
Air Force Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon

Louis Fisher
US Navy, World War II
Received five medals:
WWII Victory Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
Combat Action Ribbon
Honorable Service Lapel Pin (Ruptured Duck)

Fredrick Gudknecht
US Army, Vietnam War
Received two medals:
Good Conduct Medal
Parachutist Badge

Leonard Kanoff
US Navy, Vietnam War
Received two medals:
Navy Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal

John Kendrick
US Army, Vietnam War
Received one medal:
Purple Heart

Rocco Maraccio (deceased) — Presented to daughter, Rosemarie Joseph
US Navy, World War II
Received nine medals:
Navy Good Conduct Medal
World War II Victory Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 3 Bronze Stars
Combat Action Ribbon
Discharge Button
Honorable Service Lapel Button
Philippine Liberation Medal
Unit Citation Medal

Daniel Rose
US Army, Iraq War
Received two medals:
Purple Heart
Purple Heart Certificate

Edward Stroik
US Army, World War II
Received five medals:
American Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal and Germany Clasp
Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII
Expert Badge and Rifle Bar

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s Langhorne office can be contacted by calling 215.579.8102.