Veterans honored at Patriot Day Celebration in Austintown

Local News

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Mahoning Valley is joining the rest of the country remembering 9/11 this weekend. The Quaker Steak & Lube in Austintown held their Patriot Day Celebration Thursday.

Family, friends, community members and veterans all came together Thursday to celebrate the 15th annual Patriot Day Celebration.

Ten veterans were honored Thursday night for the services to our country, and after not being able to have it last year, Marine Ken Jakubec, a maintenance tech manager, says this event means a little something extra this year.

“It means a lot because the stories aren’t told anymore. There’s nothing in the history books, and when you see a veteran walking by with a cap on, do you ever wonder what he did? Well, you come here and you really hear the real stories that they did. They open up,” Jakubec said.

Former Honoree Leo Connelly, Jr., says by doing events like this family members get to see firsthand what exactly their loved one who was in the military did for them

“But the most important thing to me is to be able to get the message out. There’s one percent that went to combat. One percent that is in the military, so by doing this sometimes we make the 99% educated about the cost of freedom,” Connelly said.

The event included the Fitch Concert Choir, a skydiver and the reading of the bios of the veterans being honored.

Quaker Steak & Lube General Manager Mike Ellis says they are so proud to be a part of this special event every year.

“It’s humbling. It’s inspiring. It’s what we should all aspire to do. A simple act of kindness goes a long way and it’s not so much for the person you do it for. It’s how it makes you feel,” Ellis said.

Those honored Thursday include:

  • WWII
    • William Vaughan (deceased) – 2nd Lt. Army Air Corps Pacific-Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, three Purple Hearts, 14 Air Medals, five Campaign Stars, two Presidential Unit Citations, Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor and most decorated flight crew in the Air Force or any branch.
  • Vietnam
    • Stan Barefield – L./Cpl. United States Marine Corps. Navy/Marine Commendation Medal with V for Valor, two Purple Hearts and Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor, 2021.
    • Gerald Benyo – United States Army, Purple Heart.
    • HN David Laurence Eisenbraun – U.S. Navy Corpsman, killed in action Sept. 17, 1968, Purple Heart.
    • Kevin B. Patterson – U.S. Army, Purple Heart.
    • Howard Jacobs-Perry – Officer 2nd class, U.S. Navy, Air medals (27).
    • John K. Taft – Captain United States Army, Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star with V, Valor (three), two Purple Hearts and Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor.
    • James Smith – Major, United States Army, Distinguished Flying Cross with V devise for Valor and Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor, 2020.
    • Morley R. Sweet – U.S. Marine Corps, Purple Heart.
  • Iraq/Afghanistan Desert Storm
    • Robert L. Marino – United States Air Force, U.S. Army, National Guard, Air Medal and Air Force Commendation Medal.

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