The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

June 29, 2013

Franklin Borough has had its share of military heroes

JOHNSTOWN — Like most of the Johnstown and Cambria County region, John Clayton Mastovich’s hometown of Franklin Borough provided much support to the World War II efforts.

Among the list of those Franklin residents who served in that conflict were three prominent heroes:

• Sgt. Michael Strank, a U.S. Marine, was one of the six U.S. servicemen in Pulitzer prize-winning photographer Joe Rosenthal’s shot of the second American flag raising atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945. The photo is one of the most memorable and well-known images in U.S. history.

Strank also was featured prominently in author James Bradley’s book “Flags of Our Fathers,” which evolved into a motion picture directed by Clint Eastwood. Strank died in combat at age 25 on March 1, 1945. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Franklin Borough VFW Post 5107 and the Conemaugh-Franklin bridge are named in Strank’s honor.

• Office of Strategic Services Capt. George Musulin was an instrumental part in one of the most daring rescues in U.S. military history, Operation Halyard.

Musulin helped in the extraction of hundreds of American servicemen from Yugoslavia despite being in territory occupied by Nazi soldiers.

Musulin and others inspired author Gregory A. Freeman’s 2007 book “The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II.”

He later enlisted in the Office of Naval Intelligence and joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1950.

Musulin died in 1987.

• Col. John J. Tominac received the Medal of Honor for his actions Sept. 12, 1944, in Saulx de Vesoul, France, while a first lieutenant.

The citation stated Tominac charged alone over 50 yards of exposed terrain onto an enemy roadblock to dispatch a three-man crew of German machine gunners with a single burst from his Thompson machine gun.

Tominac died July 11, 1998, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Maple Avenue Bridge was renamed in Tominac’s honor.

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