Vets live with scars of war

Warren hosts Veterans Day parade

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple U.S. Navy World War II veteran Joe Badanjek of Southington was among those who attended the Veterans Day program Saturday in downtown Warren. The program began at First Presbyterian Church and ended with a parade through the streets of downtown. Badanjek was featured in the Tribune Chronicle in 2015 as part of the newspaper’s weekly veteran profiles.

WARREN — Whether you can see them on their bodies or they are hidden in their mind, many veterans in the United States carry the scars they earned protecting the country every day of their lives.

Philip DeCapito’s scars might be more obvious than others — a detonator exploded in his hand while he helped fellow members of the U.S. Navy free 50,000 trapped Marines in Korea by destroying the Chosin Reservoir with explosives.

“I laid 64 sticks of dynamite. One of them got me,” DeCapito said.

DeCapito and other veterans in Trumbull County, like Marion Ruminski of Niles and Mark “Hollywood” Taylor of Warren, were honored Saturday at the Trumbull County Veterans Day Federation ceremony and parade, which started after the service at First Presbyterian Church on Mahoning Avenue.

Ruminski immigrated to the U.S. as a young Polish man fleeing Germany.

“We fought, but we were defeated. So we came here to Ellis Island and fought for this country,” Ruminski said.

Ruminski was a U.S. Navy Seabee who participated in the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War.

“War is hell. War is bad. It’s bad for both sides. When it is over, everything that can be done should be done to keep it from happening again. You have to let go of animosity and forgive because it is bad for all sides,” Ruminski said.

Ruminski doesn’t like to remember the details of his service and he doesn’t enjoy reliving the violent details. But Ruminski said he is proud of all the young men and women who step up to serve today, especially his grandson Brandon, who is now serving in Afghanistan.

U.S. Air Force Col. James Dignan of Niles, who is on assignment at the Pentagon until he retires and takes the helm of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, reminded ceremony attendees that citizens of this country are all beneficiaries of the sacrifices men and women serving in the military and their families make.

“For over 230 years, these men and women have guaranteed our freedom with their duty and selfless service. On this day, we appreciate these realities. Our veterans have given of themselves for our country and some of them have given it all. Laying down their lives to defend the freedoms we all hold so dearly,” Dignan said.

Herm Breuer, director of the Trumbull County Veterans Administration and master of ceremonies, said there have been times in the country’s history when veterans were not treated properly. While World War II and Desert Storm veterans came home to parties and parades, those who served in Vietnam weren’t only not celebrated, but society failed to provide them with the services that might have got them help or connected them to jobs.

DeCapito remembers being treated well after after coming home from Korea, and was disgusted with the way Vietnam veterans were treated.

“There was a sign outside of a certain VFW post that said, ‘no blacks and no Vietnam veterans.’ I walked out of there, so did another couple of guys,” DeCapito said.

That type of attitude can never persist again, said Breuer and Dignan.

“This morning as we reflect on the miracles of our freedoms, we ask that only to help us be faithful stewards of that freedom. Let us never forget. We cannot properly celebrate the privilege of our freedoms, without properly recognizing the ultimate price some have paid for that privilege. We stagger at the everlasting debt we owe to the untold number of Americans who chose to set aside their ambitions and dreams to assure the well being of our country,” Dignan said.