PITTSTON — Bitter cold temperatures didn’t stop one of the largest crowds from attending the American Legion Post 477’s Veterans Day ceremony honoring fallen comrades from all wars, including Ed Holleran and Allan Haas, two members of the Post who passed away last month.
As the clock neared 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, not many participants or observers of the program could be found. Temperatures were barely out of the teens late Saturday morning. One-by-one, the Honor Guard from Post 477 emerged from the warmth of the Post home while observers and participants began to arrive.
The American Legion program was to begin at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, marking the time and date the armistice was signed ending the war to end all wars, World War I in 1918.
Those in attendance heard remarks from Pittston City Mayor Jason Klush, in-coming mayor Michael Lombardo, Pittston City Councilman Michael Lombardo, Luzerne County Judge Tom Burke and principal speaker, PA State Rep. Michael Carroll. Tom Delaney, Post 477 commander, served as Master of Ceremonies, assisted by Chaplin Joe Savokinas.
Commander Delaney thanked everyone in attendance for coming out on a bitter day and addressed the recent loss of post members Holleran and Haas.
Holleran’s widow Virginia and his son John were present as was Haas’ son John, his wife Jennifer and their daughter Jillian.
Holleran, who served in the U.S. Air Force, earning an honorable discharge at the end of his tour, passed away Oct. 3.
Haas, who passed away four days later on Oct. 7, was also a member of the U.S. Air Force from 1966 to 1970 before being honorably discharged at the rank of Staff Sergeant.
According to John Haas, his dad worked diligently in keeping the post from closing its doors.
“He spent a lot of time at the club helping to remodel and revitalize the facility,” John Haas said. He went on to say how proud he was of his father and thanked all veterans who have sacrificed so much in order to keep our country safe.
Luzerne County Judge Tom Burke, a Vietnam veteran himself, reflected on Veterans Day and the meaning of such an important day on the calendar.
After the ceremony, Burke spoke about two men from Greater Pittston whom he thought about that day, TJ Hromisin and the late John Coleman.
“This Veterans Day, in particular, I have reflected on a wonderful man who passed away about two weeks ago, Mr. John Coleman,” Burke said. “He was 96 years young and a West Pittstonian most of his life.”
According to Burke, Coleman was a pilot and flew 292 missions between WWII and the Korean Conflict.
John Coleman’s son Ron, a high school classmate of Burke, served as a platoon commander in Vietnam. He was wounded and received a Purple Heart and a Silver Star in Courage leading his troops.
“The Colesmans have made an indelible impression on me in terms of service to their country and being the extraordinary human beings they have been in our society,” Burke said.
“I’d be remiss in every instance of reflecting on Veterans Day not to think about Capt. TJ Hromisin, who, 10 years ago, was severely wounded serving in Iraq and has been exemplary in his quest to rehabilitate himself despite his physical challenges and to be a contributing member of society and, moreover, to help the cause of other wounded warriors among our midst,” added Burke.
Hromisin, a Seton Catholic and The University of Scranton grad, was shot in Iraq in 2007 rendering him blind. Today, he strives to help fellow wounded servicemen and women. Capt. Hromisin received a Purple Heart on Sept. 27, 2008.