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Follansbee Legion, with help from community, makes upgrades to veterans monument site

VOLUNTEERS INVOLVED — Members of American Legion Post 45 behind the recent replacement of a third flagpole at the Cross Creek District War Memorial stand with Joe Settimio, who was among many who worked to establish the monument. Standing in front of the honor roll identifying area veterans of about 1,600 area men who served in World War II are, from left, John Radvansky, Settimio, Post 45 Commander Tom Mirabella and Mike Stillwell. -- Warren Scott

FOLLANSBEE — With support from the community, members of Emrys Watkins Follansbee American Legion Post 45 have been working to spruce up the Cross Creek District War Memorial just outside the post’s doors.

The group recently replaced the last of three flagpoles that had fallen under the force of high wind in 2018 and have added four long picnic tables to the grassy area behind the monument.

Post 45 Commander Tom Mirabella said the tables were sold to the post at a discounted rate by American Muscle Docks and Fabrication. He added there are plans to use them for fundraisers supporting the post and its efforts.

Mirabella said donations from many individuals and groups, including the Follansbee Garibaldi Lodge and Ohio Valley Veterans Memorial Squad, allowed the post to replace the third pole.

Established in honor of all prisoners of war, the pole was installed by volunteers John Radvansky and Mike Stillwell with help from city crews, who used the city’s bucket truck to lift and guide the more than 30-foot pole into place.

“I am very proud of the community and all of its support for this flagpole,” said Mirabella.

He said one of the other two poles was replaced through the post’s fundraising efforts while the second was provided by Rich Puskarich in memory of his fellow veteran and longtime friend, Joey Perito.

A member of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, Perito was 21 when he was killed by a land mine while scouting for such devices. It was a task he’d performed on other occasions, and it had left him with a shrapnel wound to the hand and a burned foot, but he returned each time to service.

Since 1955 the Cross Creek District War Memorial has served as a reminder of local residents who served their country, through Memorial Day and Veterans Day services held there and a handful of monuments at the site.

In 1999 large posters bearing the names of about 1,600 men and women from the Cross Creek District who had served in World War II were found on the post’s second floor.

Believed to have been compiled by John Platt, the list included designations for those killed in the line of duty and those who were prisoners of war.

In the days before the Internet was prevalent, it was believed to be the most complete record of local veterans of the war.

Chartered in 1927, the post itself was named for a fallen veteran: Emrys Watkins, a 19-year-old Follansbee native and Marine who was among more than 9,000 Allied troops killed while defending France against German invaders in World War I.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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