Each year, past recipients of the Marine of the Year award vote for a candidate from current membership. Chaplain Gerry Kunic was awarded the Marine of the Year 2016 and presented by Adjudent Phil Cerussi. This award is given on the dedication and service to the league and community.
Gerry is a native of Lawrenceville where he attended Peabody High School. After graduation in June 1964, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. His first home as a Marine was Parris Island, SC where his MOS was 0141 Administrator and then shipped to the Marine Corps Automated Service Center in Kansas City, MO. In September 1967, he was deployed to Vietnam and assigned to the Data Processing Platoon #10 (the first mobile combat platoon) where he supported the FLSG-A and the 1st and 3rd Marine Divisions, 1st Marine Air Wing and Army units in the Hue-Phu Bai area. Their missision was to arm, feed and clothe the troops from Phu Bai to the DMZ. After this tour, he was sent to Da Nang and discharged in June 1969 at the rank of Seargant after serving five years in the USMC.
Using the GI Bill, Gerry attend Robert Morris College and obtained a business degree. He raised through the ranks at Mellon Bank to become the CEO at three community banks and retired in 2013.
Gerry and wife, Mary (McCrea), were married in 1973 and have two children and three grandaughters. Gerry has been a member of the Three Rivers MCL since 2003 and currently is the league’s Chaplain. He participates in many of the league’s activities and is on the committee for the golf outing and pasta dinner fund raisers. He is also a member of the Vietnam Veterans, Inc., spends many hours as a volunteer at the VA hospital for the “End of Life Program,” and a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus. He is an usher at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church and is involved in many of the church events. What little leisure time he has is spent playhing softball in the North Allegheney County Senior Softball league and downtime is spent reading history and mystery books.
Each year a candidate or candidates are nominated for outstanding community service. This award was established from the heroic action of four chaplains. The Four Chaplains, also sometimes referred to as the “Immortal Chaplains” or the “Dorchester Chaplains”, were four United States Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilian and military personnel as the troop ship SS Dorchester sank on February 3, 1943, during World War II. They helped other soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. They joined arms and prayed together as they went down with the ship.
During the Marines birthday dinner held on Sunday, November 6th, Janet Lindner, Chairman of The Chapel of Four Chaplains for our league, presented to Rick Barzen, George Coppola and Mark Callahan this most prestigious award; in addition, Commandant Matt Popovich presented a special Distinguished Citizen Award to Shane Callahan.
Bernard (Rick) Barzen has been a member of the MCL #310 for five years and is a familiar face at all league functions. He and his wife, Karen, of 45 years have three children and seven grandchildren. A native of Pittsburgh Northside, Rick entered the USMC in 1967 and went to Parris Island for boot camp. Upon completion, he was transferred to Camp Pendleton, California, where he trained in recoilless rifles, flame throwers and rocket launchers. He spent a couple months in Okinawa training in jungle warfare and shipped to Viet Nam as a rifleman; he was honorable discharged in 1970.
Rick spends many personal hours a week visiting the residents at the VA Hospital in Aspinwal and is a regular volunteer at the MCL #310 sponsored bingo at the VA. For many years, Rick was a volunteer for the bowling and softball special Olympics. He also sponsored a dart league for the special Olympics. Rick participates in all the league functions including color guard, parades, rose campaign, various events at the VA and the first to volunteer when needed. Rick has accepted the position of Quarter Master for the Three Rivers Detachment and will be working with Ed Barron, Jr. to make the transition. Rick and Karen live near their grandchildren and he finds this to be the joy of his life. He spends time nearly every day with the kids playing catch, fishing, hiking or just hanging out.
Mark Callahan is President of Veterans Plumbing Supplies and a member of Three Rivers Detachment. One of his personal missions is to give back. On a regular basis, Mark and his son, Shane, provide hours of service and many times materials free of charge to veterans in need. Mark is setting an unselfish explain for not only his son, but for all of us. He does honor to the Corps and his fellow veterans.
Shane Callahan is the 20-year-old son of Mark Callahan, current recipient of The Chapel of Four Chaplains Award and is also president of Veterans Plumbing Supplies. Shane is following in his father’s footsteps in providing labor and materials to veterans in need at no cost. Commandant Matt Popovich presented Shane with the Distinguished Citizens Award for his service. He is part of a dedicated father/son team and one we all are proud and grateful.
George Coppola (not pictured) is a Viet Nam veteran who served in the Coast Guard. He is an associate member of Three Rivers Detachment and involved in the Purple Heart Association, VFW, American Legion and totally dedicated to helping veterans. In 2013, George established the ‘No Vet Dies Alone’ program. This program was implemented in 2013 and is designed to assist veterans dying who may not have loved ones or family to be with in their last 24 hours. This program is still very active; however, the name has been changed to ‘End of Life’ which now includes hospice. These are very special and dedicated volunteers as they can be called any time of the day or night. George is also a certified officer for the VA which means he works with the vets coming back to complete and process all paperwork for benefits that they may not know they are entitled or just discouraged with the difficult processing. He is an advocate for veterans and sets an example not surpassed by many.
As the aroma of hot soup filled the halls at the VA Heinz Aspinwall on Wednesday, October 26th, many of the Veterans living at the facility anxiously awaited the doors to be opened to get in line to feast on the several homemade soups awaiting their tasting pleasure.
Pictured is First time volunteer, Gerry LaBella is a natural.
The VAVS sponsors an annual soup day in the fall where many of the volunteer organizations participate. For the past few years, some of the MCL #310 members have enjoyed the festivities and camaraderie of this much-anticipated event.
As in the past, Bob Timet and Rick Barzen prepared the soup of some wonderful concoction Bob dreams up. Audrey Szmed baked eight loaves of bread as it has become a request from returning guests. Karen Barzen sent rice and noodles with Rick to compliment the soup.
Volunteering to help the #310 soup core group this year were Karen Barzen and Gerry LaBella. Sorely missed was Wilma Pakuszewski who currently resides at 29 Palms; and if it weren’t for a recent fall slowly her down, she would certainly want to be there rolling up her sleeves as she has for many years volunteering at the VA.
Bob had several Root Sport T-shirts which Tom Szmed passed out to the Vets as an extra bonus.
This event is well received by the Vets. We would like to mention that the VA Staff Member Ginger did a fabulous job in organizing this event and keeping everyone on track. What soup will Bob serve next year ?? .. not even the ‘Shadow’ knows. We’ll have to wait.
Pictured is Gerry LaBella, Bob Timet, Karen and Rick Barzen
As in the past, many members of the MCL #310 Three Rivers Leathernecks participated in the annual Pittsburgh Veterans’ Day parade on Friday, November 11th.
Leading our Marines was our faithful mascot, Winston, owned by Nancy and Bill McClements who walked the entire parade route together.
This year’s marching color guard was Commandant Matt Popovich, Adjutant Phil Cerussi, Rick Barzen, George Bigelow and Calvin Reichhold.
Three Rivers has an ongoing program of cutting stars from flags that have been retired and putting them in small envelopes with a short verse. These stars were passed out to those standing along the parade route.
Many thanks to our dedicated detachment members.
Theresa Mell Erickson, daughter of Robert L. Mell III a beloved member of #310, attended a MCL meeting to talk
about the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). She invited members of the Three Rivers Detachment to attend the gala event. Commandant Matt Popovich and member Rick Barzen accepted the invition; they would escort ladies arriving without a companion to the ballroom. Theresa is Membership Chair of the Pittsburgh Chapter and is very involved in chapter events and activities.
Friday, June 10, 2016, marked the 125th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Chaper of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The DAR Pittsburgh Chapter holds Charter #1 in the National Society and owns and operates Pittsubrgh’s oldest architectural lnadmark, the Fort Pitt Block House.
This landmark is still privately owned and operated by the Fort Pitt Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution of Allegheny County Pennsylvania and receives no state or federal funding. It has remained free and open to the public since 1895; it is the only remnant left to remind us of Pittsburgh’s earliest history. Much of its architectural fabric is intact within the stone foundation, bricks and timber elements from its origianl 1764 construction. The Block House is listed as a National Historic Landmark, reiterating its importance to our nation’s history.
The ladies of the Pittsburgh Chaper are strong military supporters and the Chapter was honored to have the Marines presence.
Our muster locations for Friday, November 11th Veterans Day parade.
VFW Post in West View at 8:30 am
Just Ducky Garage on the north side of Pittsburgh at 9:00 am
The garage is located on Jackson Street behind Zone #2 Police Station.
See map below:
Again this year we would like to foster the spirit of sharing with those in need. There will be boxes at the entrance to the party area for donations for Christmas Gift Bag items for hospitalized Veterans. Items needed include: white T-shirts, travel size deodorant, white socks, body spray, word search books, toothbrushes, toothpaste, denture tablets, 3 ‘n 1 body wash, combs, wipes, etc.
Also inside the entrance to the party we will have Christmas cards that can be signed by anyone in attendance.
The cards will be sent to patients at the VA Hospital.
Members: If you are planning on attending with your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews this year please bring a moderately priced gift – wrapped and clearly labeled – for each child that you bring to the party.
The gifts will be placed in the room with the Christmas tree so that after Santa Claus arrives he can hand out the gifts & be photographed with the children.
The Detachment will provide pizza, salad & other refreshments for the party and a gift bag favor for each child. Each child will also be entered in a drawing for Door Prizes. Please RSVP by Tuesday December 6th so that we have enough favors for every child.
2016 Holiday Service Project ~ Project Coordinator Janet Lindner
The Detachment is continuing to support the same Holiday Service Project that we have done since 2006. Last year the Detachment collected monetary contributions and toys & gifts for several deserving organizations. Janet used the donations to purchase additional toys & gifts. Two carloads of items went to North Hills Community Outreach. They were extremely thankful for our generosity. Items were also distributed to Genesis of Pittsburgh and Renewal, Inc., on Grant Avenue in Pittsburgh, which now services Lydia’s Place, an organization that we supported in previous years.
This year we are going to begin the collections in October & November so that the items can be given to the organizations early in December.
Toys, gift items, especially needed are items for boys & teenagers; any Steelers items (shirts in large sizes); gift cards; even small toys & items less than $5 are greatly appreciated. Do not wrap the items.
Holiday gift-wrap & gift bags, ribbon & tape are also needed.
If you don’t like to shop don’t worry – Janet does. Monetary donations will be used to purchase toys & gifts & gift cards.
Items and Donations will be collected at the Marine Corps Birthday Dinner and the October & November Detachment meetings or can be sent to Janet at the address below.
Bring your items or donations to the October or November Detachment meetings or the Marine Corps Birthday Celebration and give them to Janet Lindner. She will see that they are distributed to the organizations listed above.
Contributions by check can be sent to Janet Lindner, 930 Perry Highway. Pittsburgh. PA 15229.
(All monies are accounted for and a report is prepared for the Detachment).
Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide to this worthwhile project.