For Pete’s Sake and many others….
by Cate Murway
“It is the VETERAN, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.”
[from “It is the VETERAN”, Father Denis Edward O’Brien, USMC]
A veteran is defined by federal law, moral code and military service as " Any person who served for Any length of time in Any military service branch.”
By the end of the decade, fully one half of American males aged 65 years and over will be veterans. Many of us share a heightened awareness because of the brave men and women currently stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of who have already returned home wounded. Demonstrating selflessness, and setting the standard of patriotism, they are our newest veterans. There must be more that we can do to honor the commitment made by our soldiers than to just reward veterans with rhetoric and high praise. Our salute to veterans must be affirmed by the manner in which we prioritize their needs. Respect for them should not diminish over time. In the rearview mirror, time cannot erase their haunting memories. Respect for the veterans has little to do with flag waving and everything to do with honoring them for their courage, valor and sacrifice. The path of war is smothered from their many footsteps.
Without the sacrifice of our brave armed forces there would be no liberty. When you meet them, look them directly in the eye and tell them that their heroic efforts in defense of freedom and liberty were not fought in vain.
“Old soldiers never die; they just fade way," was part of General Douglas MacArthur's famous 1951 speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress.
Let’s not let them fade away.
Army First Sergeant Peter J. Fesovich, East Conemaugh H.S. ’45 basketball athlete, one of eleven children, and his wife, Retired R.N. after 32 years, Joanne Louise [Reese] East Conemaugh H.S. ’48/ Nursing School, whom he met in 1952 at a basketball game after returning home from the service, have resided on Pond Street since 1957. They fell in love with the wharf along the Delaware River and the single home with a fireplace in the neighborhood that reminded them of their hometown Conemaugh, an Indian name meaning "long fishing place."
“Life is sweet, tender and complete
When you find the bluebird of happiness.
You will find perfect peace of mind
When you find the bluebird of happiness.
Two hearts that beat as one,
'Neath a new found sun,
We are in a world that's just begun”
[Pete’s favorite song:
Bluebird of Happiness, Introduced at Radio City Music Hall, Popularized by Jan Peerce]
At the height of the steel industry in Johnstown, mills spread out over 13 miles along the Little Conemaugh and Stonycreek Rivers, running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, both to keep up with demand and to keep the furnaces going. If they were allowed to go cold, it took days for them to get hot enough again to melt iron ore. Faster than anyone dreamed, the mills were closing. Instead of smoke and fire lighting up the night, there was quiet. Thousands of workers lost their jobs. Where else could they go?
In 1954, Pete was asked to investigate transfer options to the US Steel Fairless Works in Fairless Hills as he was job class 14, proficiently experienced in the hot, galvanized, cold roll sheet and tin rolling mills, earning a top pay of $2.80 per hour. He retired in 1976.
Pete is a very conscientious, self-sacrificing person, able to give freely without being concerned about any return or reward. He took danger no more seriously than anything else and earned himself a reputation for devotion to duty in 1946.
After graduation, his mom simply stated to him “America needs soldiers”. He obediently went to the recruiting office where he was told to “go home because he wouldn’t be 18 for 2 more weeks”. Pete rationalized, saying “Put down that I’m ok; it’ll take 2 weeks to get where I’m going.”
His first stop was Fort Meade, MD, named for General George G. Meade, a Union Army general in the US Civil War, for the mandatory inoculations; then to Fort Knox, Kentucky to join the 3rd armored tank corps division, nicknamed the Spearhead Division, of the U.S.Army. It first activated in 1941 and was a key participant in the European Theater of World War II. Pete explains that the tanks didn’t have the faster swivel in the turret traverse speed and were not like the tanks they have today, “If they had these tanks, I’d still be in the army at 80 years old!”
He never actually even used the tanks. He “thought he was going to ETO [European Theatre of Operations] but went to the Pacific”. Pete was recruited for the Honor Guard, the top outfit in the service, for MacArthur from October 1946 through November 1946.
Although Five Star General Douglas MacArthur was the top ranking military leader in the Pacific, he had no troops directly in his command. The honor guard was formed in May 1945, to perform security and other tasks for MacArthur, who had a profound effect on the world stage, as a symbol of his authority and separateness. Looking toward the future, he envisioned a need and role for a special unit under his control, a “Crack” company of Infantrymen to serve as his personnel security force which was to include excellent character 6’1”, fluent in Russian, Peter J. Fesovitch. His order began “The C-in-C desires that a special Guard Company be organized for providing local security for the Commander-in-Chief and General Headquarters installations.”
Minimum security by a single company of the exemplary soldiers served the General and guarded the Imperial Palace without fail from Manila to Tokyo.
The approved official Honor Guard Slogan, it’s purpose is simple, "We Shall Remember", was proposed by Corporal David Joseph Valley, Clinton Senior H.S. ’49, Clinton, MA/U. of MA, Executive Director of the General Douglas MacArthur Honor Guard Association. He is the acclaimed author of “Gaijin Shogun [(Japanese: gaijin, "foreigner", shogun, "military ruler") Gen. Douglas MacArthur: Stepfather of Postwar Japan”, a combat veteran and former member of MacArthur's honor guard and a retired engineering executive, who also “presents a fast-paced forty-minute impersonation of the General, discussing his greatest challenges and achievements”. When asked about the special GHQ belt, David shared, “The GHQ [Honor Guard Quarters] buckle designated the soldier as part of the Honor Guard Company.” Their next reunion is scheduled for October 1st, in Norfolk, VA by the MacArthur Memorial Foundation.
The Fesovich family includes Mansion Street resident, son Robert Faight, retired from nuclear medicine and grandson, Bristol Borough Police officer Peter Faight [wife Warren P. Snyder- John Girotti Elementary School teacher, Kristin and children, Mackenzie, Jacob and Sophia]. Owner of Radcliffe Learning Center is granddaughter, Chrissy DeLuca [husband Aldo, children Tahlia and Mason]. Peter’s late parents, 11 years old Anna [Wachwak] and 17 years old John met when they were smuggled out of Russia to America through Ellis Island to meet their sponsor. Joanne’s late parents, Esther and disabled railroad wreaking crew worker Sam, who was injured while working when he was knocked off the train car, lived with them in their Borough home for awhile.
Pete and Joanne love to read; like Pizza Hut pizza because it has a thicker crust than most other commercially available pizzas, and they enjoy working on crossword and jigsaw puzzles. They won the “Lucky Day” lottery game using a combination of birth date numbers 2yrs ago. One time bass fiddler for the Jimmy Cannon orchestra, “I was damn good at it too!” Pete cheers for the NY Yankees and Joanne’s a Phillies fan but they watch both games together! Peter’s favorite program is Columbo, an American crime fiction TV series starring Peter Falk as homicide detective Los Angeles Police Department Lieutenant Columbo. Some sources claim Columbo's character is based on Inspector Fichet from the classic French suspense-thriller Les Diaboliques (1955).
As a “hobby”, they work together creating visually appealing customized buttons for 1st night celebrations and local political campaigns and elections. Pete responded to an ad in Mechanix Illustrated, billed as "The How-To-Do Magazine," and started a new career, the perfect, part-time, fun and profitable home-based business. After a last minute phone call from U.S. Senator Robert Patrick Casey, Jr., he found he could make 500 buttons in a very short order!
"While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. "
[God Bless America, words and music by Irving Berlin (5.11.1888 – 9.22.1989)]
To have a Spotlight in The Bristol Pilot
REESE – John H., "Jack," 83, Cover Hill, formerly of East Conemaugh Borough, passed away March 30, 2010, at Memorial Medical Center. Born Dec. 6, 1926, in East Conemaugh, son of Samuel and Esther (Coolbaugh) Reese. Preceded in death by parents; wife of 53 years, Sarah "Tillie" (Mowery) Reese; son, James Reese; and brother, Samuel. Survived by his loving daughter, Patricia A., wife of Jeffrey "Shutz" Helsel, Cover Hill; grandchildren, Jennifer Pisczek, Roanoke, Va.; David, and wife, Heather (Thomas) Pisczek, East Taylor Township; Heidi, and husband, David Mock, Richland; and Jody Reese, Johnstown; great-grandchildren, Kara, Morgan and Caleb Pisczek; and Elizabeth, Joseph and Susan Mock; sisters, Mary, and husband, Steve Paserba, East Conemaugh; and JoAnn, and husband, Pete Fesovich, Bristol, Pa.; brothers-in-law, Joseph Mowery, Cover Hill, formerly of East Conemaugh; and Jay Mowery, Pittsburgh; and numerous nieces and nephews. John was a sergeant first class in the U.S. Army, having served during World War II. He was employed at Bethlehem Steel in the Plate Mill. After retiring from Bethlehem Steel, he was employed as a Pinkerton Security Guard. John served as the East Conemaugh auditor for 25 years. He was a member of Conemaugh-Franklin American Legion Post 633 and Daisytown Sportsmen's Club, where he shot in the Mountain Top League. John also ran the Thursday night trap and skeet shoots for many years at Bethco Pines. He was an avid hunter and fisherman and loved the outdoors. He will be remembered as a patient and loving man. The family would like to thank everyone at the Allegheny Lutheran Home for their loving care they gave to John. Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. until time of service at 10 a.m. Saturday at Baker-Harris Funeral Chapel, Conemaugh, the Rev. Barron Deffenbaugh, officiating. Internment, Forest Lawn Memorial Park, with military rites conducted by Menoher Post 155 VFW Ritual Team.