The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 14, 2013

Local troops paid homage

JOHNSTOWN — For only the second time, an entire group was honored with the Veteran Community Initiatives’ Veteran of the Year Award on Monday night.

VCI bestowed the recognition on the Pennsylvania Army National Guard’s 1-104th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion during a ceremony held at the Pasquerilla Conference Center in downtown Johnstown.

The unit, housed at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, returned from a deployment to Afghanistan in August, having suffered two fatalities in the theater: Chief Warrant Officer Matthew Ruffner and Chief Warrant Officer Jarett Yoder.

“For them to honor us and invite us to the dinner for our service to the country is just exceptional and greatly appreciated by all the soldiers in the 104th,” said Lt. Col. John Kovac, commander of the battalion.

The annual award was created in 2001. All previous honorees had been individuals, except in 2010, when World War II veterans from the Laurel Highlands collectively shared the recognition.

“It’s normally an individual award,” said Tom Caulfield, VCI president and director.

“The whole entire (104th) unit has been named as the Veteran of the Year because of the great work they did in Afghanistan and all of the hardships and the two deaths that were involved with their unit.

“Those of us that spent some time in Vietnam and Korea also know how it is to come back to an apathetic community at best.

“This year, we wanted a real community welcome to welcome our community veterans home, so we decided to have them as our guests and their family members that also endured the long period of time they were away.”

The event’s keynote speaker, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, a former member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard’s 28th Infantry Division, further discussed how veterans have been treated upon returning from different wars.

“What all of you do on behalf of veterans on their return is very, very appreciated,” Corbett told a room of VCI supporters.

“As you know, many veterans came back after the Vietnam War and were not treated in the same way.  

“After World War II, it was completely different. Everybody just came back and went to work. We didn’t quite think about it the way we do today.

“What you have demonstrated is you have learned lessons from mistakes that were made following the Vietnam War,” he said.

Corbett came to the event at the invitation of Bill Polacek, president and CEO of JWF Industries and JWF Defense Systems.

“Once I told him it was welcoming back the 104th, he was pretty excited about coming in,” said Polacek.

Along with providing an opportunity to honor the 104th, the reception served as a fundraiser for VCI, which helps veterans find employment.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Denne, Williams & Stanton Records hearing scheduled

    A Cambria County judge will consider complaints filed by two Johnstown residents seeking documents related to the city’s municipal waste water operation at hearing at the end of this month.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sen. Bob Casey Casey targets heroin

    The heroin trade has brought addiction, death, violence and theft to Johnstown and other Pennsylvania communities.
    Figuring out how to deal with those issues is difficult for local, state and federal officials.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drive-in to open with high-tech projector

    Drive-in movie theaters and the term “state of the art” seldom share the same sentence.
    But that will soon be the case for the Silver Drive-In, it’s owner said. The Scalp Avenue site, often marketed as a nostalgic summer night escape, soon will boast a high-end projector capable of displaying the latest and greatest blockbusters in razor sharp high-definition, theater owner Rick Rosco said.

    April 18, 2014

  • Sheetz work underway

    Earthmoving is underway at Richland Town Centre for a nearly 6,500-square-foot Sheetz store.
    And the real estate broker marketing the land says a 3,000-square-foot retail building will be built next door.

    April 18, 2014

  • Smith, Shakir Mosi Police seize heroin, money in Prospect

    Johnstown police reported that several bricks of heroin, along with $4,000 in cash and a handgun, were discovered in the city's Prospect neighborhood around 4 a.m. Friday. An arrest warrant has been issued for the man be­lieved to be the owner or renter of the two homes raided.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Comedy night targets serious problem

    Animal advocates are using comedy to take aim at a serious problem.
    The third annual Funny Fundraiser to benefit the Nardecchia Spay and Neuter Fund will be held at 8 p.m. May 16 at Ace’s, 316 Chestnut St. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.

    April 18, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/19/2014

    April 18, 2014

  • Early morning police raid in Prospect area leads to arrest warrant

    Johnstown police reported that several bricks of heroin, along with $4,000 in cash and a handgun, were discovered in the city's Prospect neighborhood around 4 a.m. this morning.

    April 18, 2014

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    April 18, 2014

  • new councilman Judge fills City Council vacancy

    A lifelong Johnstown resident who has never sought election to public office was named Thursday to fill the vacancy on City Council.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads