The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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May 17, 2014

WWII heroes to be honored

JOHNSTOWN — Two decorated heroes of World War II will be honored and Korean War veterans in general will be recognized at the third annual WWII Honors Ceremony of Richland American Legion Post 849.

The event will be held at 2 p.m. June 8 at a dinner in the AmSlo Club at 85 Lenhart St. in Old Conemaugh Borough.

The honorees – Navy veteran Joseph Donna, 91, and Army veteran John Komis, 94 – both reside in Richland Township.

The ceremonies were moved from the Richland post home to the AmSlo Club to accommodate the growing attendance, post Commander Robert Statler said.

Donna enlisted in the Navy in 1942, when he was 19. After boot camp, he was assigned to the Suwannee, a carrier escort ship. He took part in the invasion of North Africa, and in his first battle action, the crew sank a German submarine.

Donna also recalls firing at Japanese planes in the Pacific.

“They were trying to bomb us, and we were trying to shoot them down,” he said. “I never knew how many I shot down.”

Donna was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds suffered on his first air battle day. He also received 14 battle stars, nine ribbons and two presidential citations. His ship was hit twice and became one of the most decorated ships in World War II, Donna recalled.

Komis, who held the rank of staff sergeant, was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for action against enemy forces. He was cited for his leadership of a patrol that ambushed a German force.

He also earned the Combat Infantry Badge and WWII Army Occupation and campaign ribbons for action in Europe, Africa and the Middle East and was awarded the World War II Badge for efficiency, fidelity and honor.

In citing Korean War veterans, Statler said, “The time has come to recognize them. Due to aging there are fewer and fewer World War II veterans surviving.

“Starting next year, we will honor individual Korean vets. We are indeed very proud of their service to our country.”

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