Fallen soldier joins honor roll at last
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Lance Corporal Jeffrey Michael Walsh died in South Vietnam 42 years ago, but his sacrifice wasn't formally recognized until this week.
Before a solemn audience, Bethel Park council members and state Rep. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, presented a tearful John Walsh with a proclamation Monday night from the state House, revering and remembering his brother for serving his country as a Marine until he died at age 19.
"This is a long time coming," said Mark O'Brien, council member and chairman of the Bethel Park Veterans Memorial Committee. "He was forgotten for more than 40 years, but now this is Jeffrey's time."
Mr. O'Brien said he started looking for names of "Bethel Park's fallen heroes of the Korean and Vietnam wars" 10 years ago to honor during the annual Memorial Day celebration and add to the municipality's memorial wall, but he had difficulty acquiring proper records.
Mr. O'Brien looked no further than his committee's slogan to explain why it's important to find and acknowledge all of Bethel Park's veterans.
"Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance," he said. "These young people gave the ultimate sacrifice. The memorial wall is a dedication to all of those who gave their lives for Bethel Park and ensures they will never be forgotten."
Lauren Hurley, who works in Mr. Smith's office, offered to help Mr. O'Brien this year and said she also worked in concert with U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, to obtain information that led to finding out about Jeffrey Walsh and his family.
Mr. Walsh grew up in Dormont and moved to Bethel Park, where he attended high school before serving a seven-month tour of duty in South Vietnam. Members of his surviving family now live in Overbrook and Mt. Lebanon.
A service will be held for the fallen soldier during the annual Memorial Day service, which includes a parade, six hours of events and a reading of names on the memorial wall.
Jeffrey Walsh's name will be carved on the granite wall among Bethel Park's 3,500 other veterans and read for the first time among the municipality's 40 soldiers who were killed in action.
That the Walsh family was found during the week of Veterans Day and 235th birthday of the Marines was fitting, said Mayor Clifford Morton, who also served as a Marine.
The Bethel Park Veterans Memorial Committee continues to seek information about community veterans who may have been killed in action. To share information about Bethel Park veterans, call Mr. O'Brien at 412-831-0774 or Mr. Smith's office at 412-571-2169.
First Published November 11, 2010 5:30 am