In Honor of Struthers Fallen Soldiers

 

Local Group gathers information on soldiers who died during the war.

Note: This article appeared in the Hometown Journal on Thursday, September 11, 2014   Vol. 9, No. 37.

Staff Report

 

STRUTHERS - Emil Elias faked death in order to save fellow Marines during World War II.

The Late Struthers resident is one of the names and stories that a local historical group is working to preserve as part of the Struthers Fallen Soldiers Project. Soldiers who died in wars and conflicts going back to World War I are highlighted. However fallen soldiers dating back to the Civil War are also being accounted for.

It's been a real good experience," Struthers police Capt. Pat Bundy said of the effort.

Bundy started the project thanks to a veterans' memorial plaque at the high school. He worried that part of the city's history would be lost if the plaque went missing. Today, the 48 names listed have expanded to more than 70.

"We're getting more information about each name as we find out more about what each one did during the war until their death," Dick Dale said. "What unit they were in. What actions they were involved in. And any experiences they were in prior to that. Put in quite a bit a time. It's a great job. It's a great winter project."


Members of the Struthers Fallen Soldiers Project go over 
		  some of the information gathered on soldiers from Struthes who died during the various wars. 
		  Left to right: Police Capt. Pat Bundy, Patricia Beach, Mike Goskie and Denise Collingwood.

Members of the Struthers Fallen Soldiers Project go over some of the information gathered on soldiers from Struthes who died during the various wars. Left to right: Police Capt. Pat Bundy, Patricia Beach, Dick Dale and Denise Collingwood.

Correction to the Hometown Journal:  Dick Dale is not in the photo. The gentleman on the right is Mike Goskie.

 

Fire Chief Gary Mudryk and Bundy are part of the group's research team, which began its work in the spring. Dale handles histry, while Denise Collingwood works with genealogy.

"Folks come and go," Dale said. "They will come in with a specific amount of information. We will add that to the file and their job is done. They move on."

As of this month, the group has names of fallen soldiers from World War I (18); World War II (52); Korea (5); Vietnam War (7); and other conflicts (2).

"This actually was a very small number," Collingwood said. "The town was full of veterans."

Dale said one of the most interesting and exciting stories he uncovered during his research involves Elias, a man who almost, but didn't die in battle. "He was in the South Pacific with the Marines," Dale recalled. "He was woulded and left for dead, survived overnight or a couple of days. The Japanese would come and shoot the wounded or shoot the dead to make sure they were dead. He was shot several times, including through the chest. He laid there very still rather than yelling out because he had other wounded Marines. The Americans were able to come through and retake the area and recover the wounded and the dead."

Elias was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions of not giving away the Marines around him. He died in 2001.

"It's quite a testament to his bravery," Dale said. "He lost a leg and had two wounds. I knew him when he was a child and lived down the street from me. He walked with a limp. When you get older, you pay more attention to older folks. I realized he had only one leg. I never knew the story. He went on to be the street department foreman in Struthers for a number of years."

It's stories such as those that the Struthers Fallen Soldiers Project want to keep alive. Bundy said that when the work is completed, it will be turned over to the Struthers Historical Society.

As generations go, you tend to forget (about the soldiers efforts)," Collingwood said.

Like Bundy and Collingwood, Dale said the efforts of the veterans should not be forgotten. "Familiarity just bred complacency," he said. "Something's known and it's forgotten about. Then there's folks who don't want to remember about the contributions that were made. They're against war. They don't realize the sacrifices. They don't appriciate.

Group members scour websites and other sources, including funeral home records, newspapers, and documents, to search through and verify information. For Collingwood, that means visiting ancestry-based sites online that contain military information. In some cases, Dale needs no more than a number. If he can come up with an identifying number for an airraft that would open up the Militay Crash Report.

"With that you have access allthrough the Internet," he said. "Statements. Witnesses. They can account for so many of the people as to where they might have ended up. You go down to the detail, to the serial number of the machine guns assigned to that aircraft. This is the kind of research you can get into."

And the information allows Struthers to remember its fallen hearoes.

The public is invited to share information regarding any Struthers resident who was killed while in service to their country. The group is online at struthersfallensoldiers.com. Its e-mail address is contact@struthersfallensoldiers.com.