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Saluting Our War Heroes

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Henrica R. Kiernan surprised her parents when she was born. They were so certain that their second child would be a boy that they had picked out the name Henry. But when she was born on Sept. 4, 1921, her Polish immigrant parents who made their home in Sloan quickly changed the intended name to the feminine version – Henrica. Twenty-one years later, Henry and Loui…

Saluting Our War Heroes

The Rev. Eugene L. Pierce can tell you about his time in the Army with Elvis Presley. They were drafted and ended up in the same unit for basic training at Fort Hood, Texas. Pierce can tell you how young women would drive to the fort in search of the pop star. But Pierce says that in deference to February being Black History Month, he would rather talk about a famous…

Saluting Our War Heroes

Since Justin Roehner was a boy, he had wanted to serve in the military. As a teenager watching the war on terror unfold on the family's television in their Town of Tonawanda home, Roehner's resolve increased. "The events of Sept. 11, 2001, were obviously a major driving force. I would see the war correspondents in Iraq and the night-vision footage of tracers and the …

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While other classmates at Frontier Central High School were considering applying to colleges, 17-year-old Karen A. Schultz Chapman was thinking about the military. "I knew I wanted to get out of Buffalo and see the world," Schultz Chapman said of what motivated her to meet with military recruiters in her senior year back in 1985. At home in Hamburg, her parents were …

Saluting Our War Heroes

Dennis Seekins lacked certainty on what he wanted to do in life, but knew he needed an education if he was going to have a chance at success. So rather than wait to be drafted into the military like some of his friends who also had graduated from Medina High School, Seekins enlisted in the Air Force after the recruiter made a tempting offer. He promised Seekins a ful…

Saluting Our War Heroes

Robert Dixie Sr. enlisted in the Army prepared to serve in the Cold War or the Vietnam War. Instead, he unexpectedly ended up doing battle in Army boxing rings and achieving glory by winning championship bouts. "I didn't even know the Army had boxing when I enlisted," the 74-year-old Dixie said. "I had enlisted because you could control when you would leave for the m…

Saluting Our War Heroes

James V. Vaccarella had two main goals when he was drafted into the Army for World War II: He did not want to kill, and he did not want to be killed. With that in mind, the thought of serving in the infantry was of little comfort to him. "I had a high IQ and the Army offered to send me to officers training school, but I wasn't interested. I'd been told that the new o…

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After figuring out college was not for him, Jose Olea started working as an apprentice boilermaker repairing blast furnaces at local plants. He was making good money and learning a lot, but it ended after six months when he received a draft notice in September 1967 summoning him to military service. Six months later, the 19-year-old from Buffalo was patrolling the ju…

Saluting Our War Heroes

Sherwood Sarles remembers walking out of a downtown Buffalo movie theater into the drama of World War II. The streets were filled with soldiers and citizens who appeared to be celebrating a battle that had been won by the Allies. "A special edition of The Buffalo News was being sold on a street corner and I still can hear the shouting, 'Extra! Extra! Extra! Read all …

Local News

LOCKPORT — The big, red kettle swinging from the tripod and the gent or lady ringing the bell for donations is a common sight this time of year, but few know the story behind that familiar Salvation Army symbol of the holiday season. “Doing the most good for the most people in the most need,” is the motto.    Chris Gresart, social services director for the Salvation…

North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur G. Pappas has announced the Hometown Heroes’ Banners program is now open to any veteran and not limited to active duty military members. Sally Urban, mother of  Marine Lance Cpl. Timothy G. Serwinowski, who was killed in action in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, inspired the first banner. The banners will include a photo along wit…

Saluting Our War Heroes

Marine Capt. Maurice L. "Chipp" Naylon IV is in town until Thursday to support his father, who has worked for months pulling together Saturday's commissioning ceremony for the new USS Little Rock at Canalside. But it's not only because of the work of his father, Maurice L. "Moe" Naylon III, and other commissioning committee members that the 30-year-old Afghanistan comba…

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(An earlier version of this column appeared a year ago, but only on BuffaloNews.com. It has been updated for 2017, to appear in print.) Ed Stone enlisted in the Navy in Buffalo, in December 1940. He did what the Navy told him. He brought only a light spring jacket. He remembers that he slept the night before at the YMCA. He remembers the stone steps of the old post o…

Buffalo

Of all the vessels in the Buffalo River on Monday morning, Marcus Gillebaard probably had the tiniest. As the Navy's new hulking USS Little Rock warship sailed past to dock at Canalside, Gillebaard paddled nearby in a wooden kayak he and a friend fashioned to look like the original World War II-era USS Little Rock. Gillebaard, of North Tonawanda, built this craft two…