Honoring D-Day Heroes: A Tribute by the Made in America Store

As the world commemorates the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the Made in America Store, led by Mark Andol, CEO of both General Welding & Fabricating and the Made in America Store, proudly hosted a special event to honor six World War II veterans. Held on June 5, 2024, this event was a poignant prelude to the anniversary, providing a moment to reflect on the bravery and sacrifices of these extraordinary individuals.

Remembering D-Day’s Legacy

On June 6, 1944, over 150,000 Allied troops from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and other nations launched the largest air, land, and sea assault in history. This monumental event marked a turning point in World War II as Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, beginning the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation.

Among the many stories of bravery is that of Rev. Ignatius Maternowski, a St. Francis High School graduate and paratrooper chaplain who made the ultimate sacrifice. His story, along with that of Charles N. DeGlopper, another hero who perished during the invasion, was shared during our event.

A Day of Remembrance

The event at the Made in America Store was graced by the presence of six distinguished World War II veterans:

  • Edward Laurich (96, U.S. Navy): Laurich placed his hand over his heart as the national anthem was sung, a moment that deeply moved all in attendance.
  • Joe Synakowski (94): The youngest veteran present, Synakowski lied about his age to enlist at 15 and served in the same paratrooper unit as Maternowski.
  • Clay Bihl (100): Bihl, who served in Europe and fought in the Battle of the Bulge, shared memories of traversing the snowy mountains of Austria on skis.
  • Herman “Pat” Pawlicki (103): A bomber pilot, Pawlicki enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor and proudly recounted his service, even joking about his desire to serve again despite his age.
  • Richard Westlund: A poet by nature, Westlund’s service in the Pacific theater was honored through a touching poem presented by his daughter.
  • Joseph Cosenza: A Buffalo native, Cosenza recalled the harrowing experience of Japanese bombings in the Philippines.

The ceremony featured a bugle rendition of taps, a speech by Franciscan Friar Matt Foley about Maternowski’s sacrifice, and heartfelt words from the relatives of Charles D. DeGlopper.

Keeping Their Stories Alive

Bill DeGlopper and Kris DeGlopper-Banks, relatives of Charles D. DeGlopper, shared their great uncle’s heroism and emphasized the importance of preserving these stories for future generations. As DeGlopper-Banks poignantly stated, “If we don’t continue to tell the story, then we lose that part of our history.”

Mark Andol, in his roles as CEO of General Welding & Fabricating and the Made in America Store, understands the significance of honoring those who have fought for our freedoms. The connection between these two businesses lies in their shared mission to support American values and manufacturing while commemorating the sacrifices of American heroes.

We are immensely grateful to these veterans for sharing their stories and allowing us to honor them in such a meaningful way. As we commemorate the 80th Anniversary of D-Day, we are reminded of the courage, sacrifice, and resilience of all those who served. Their legacy continues to inspire us in our mission at the Made in America Store and General Welding & Fabricating: to support American manufacturing and honor the spirit of those who have fought for our freedoms.

In remembering D-Day, we not only honor the past but also commit to preserving these powerful stories for future generations. Their courage and sacrifice serve as a testament to the enduring spirit of freedom and resilience.

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