Shaler Area School District to Honor of Medal of Honor Winners

Article excerpt

Deeply respectful of war veterans and the sacrifices they've made for this country, Steven Truban, of Etna, says it is time to pay homage to Medal of Honor recipients from the Shaler Area School District.

"I've lived in Etna all my life," said Truban, 75. "There are memorials (throughout the school district) to politicians and coaches. I feel it's time to honor those veterans who should be recognized for their outstanding service to our country."

Truban, a former president of the Shaler Area school board, proposed to the current school board that the Shaler Area Intermediate School flag plaza be renamed the Congressional Medal of Honor Plaza in recognition of two medal recipients -- Etna native Michael J. Novosel, who died in April 2006 at the age of 83, and William R. Prom, of Reserve, who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1969 at age 20.

"I really respect the guys who served our country because I was there," said Truban, who served in the Air Force in the Korean War. "It's phenomenal what this guy (Novosel) did. He deserves this recognition for his 44 year career in the military."

An Army Air Corps veteran of World War II, an Air Force veteran of the Korean War and an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, Novosel, a helicopter pilot, received the Medal of Honor in 1971 for rescuing 29 wounded soldiers during a battle in Vietnam.

Prom, a machine gun squad leader in the Marines, was awarded the medal posthumously in 1970 for defending his platoon against intense automatic weapons fire and a grenade attack.

The medal, given by the president in the name of Congress, is the nation's highest military decoration.

School officials have endorsed Truban's proposal.

The flag plaza near the front entrance of the intermediate school, which is along Mt. Royal Boulevard in Shaler, is a fitting location for a tribute to the heroic veterans, Principal Dave McQuade said.

For the past nine years, students have honored veterans through the school's Celebration of Veterans program conducted in November.

During the program, hundreds of veterans are invited to the school for breakfast and to speak to the students during an assembly. The student body stages a show for the veterans. The entire program is funded by the students, who raise approximately $5,000 every two years, McQuade said.

"There's a very special relationship between the students and the vets -- one of mutual respect," he said. "To have 900 teenagers interacting in such a wonderful way with veterans of all ages helps bridge the age gap."

A plaque at the flag plaza would list the names of all Medal of Honor recipients from the school district. "Names will be added of any future honorees or anyone in the past that has been missed," said James Giel Jr. …