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NORTH TONAWANDA – Federal, state and local officials will join North Tonawanda Mayor Robert G. Ortt and members of John Paul Bobo Purple Heart Chapter 264 for the dedication ceremony of the new Purple Heart monument at 10 a.m. Saturday in Raymond Klimek Veterans Park.

The monument is similar to the one located in the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park in Buffalo and is designed to provide recognition for veterans of all wars.

Purple Heart Chapter 264 was originally chartered April 22, 1947, and was rechartered June 10, 2010, to reflect the renaming of the chapter in honor of Lt. Bobo, the Medal of Honor recipient.

“Our decision to have the monument placed in North Tonawanda was the result of a collaborative decision to have the monument in a very visible, well-established and appropriate location – between the Marine Corps Memorial and the Seabees Memorial along the shoreline of the Niagara River. The fact that the mayors of both of the Tonawandas were combat veterans also played heavily in our decision,” said Ronald Krul, chapter adjutant.

“It is always an honor to be able to recognize the sacrifice of our American warriors,” Ortt added. “This monument is a reminder and testament to the courage of the men and women who have not only served in combat, but have been wounded and in some cases died in the defense of our way of life.”

Ortt said he was proud that Chapter 264 chose the North Tonawanda site for the “solemn memorial.”

Mike Targon, commander of the local chapter and a wounded Vietnam veteran, said, “The mission of the Military Order of the Purple Heart is to foster an environment of good will and camaraderie among combat-wounded veterans, promote patriotism, support necessary legislative initiatives and, most importantly, provide service to all veterans and their families. We are pleased to be able to advance our mission by placing this monument in North Tonawanda Veterans Park to promote the well-deserved recognition for these veterans.”

Krul, who is a wounded Vietnam veteran, said the chapter received national recognition for its membership, which includes City of Tonawanda Mayor Ronald Pilozzi, who was wounded in Vietnam, and his nephew, Nicholas Pilozzi, who was wounded in Afghanistan. It also is the only chapter in the United States with a father-and-daughter membership: North Tonawanda Alderman-at-Large Robert Clark, who was wounded in Vietnam, and his daughter Elena, who was wounded in Afghanistan.

Since World War I, more than 1.7 million Purple Hearts have been awarded to veterans.

“We would like to invite these recipients to join our chapter and also attend the unveiling of the monument on Saturday. They deserve to be recognized for their service and sacrifice,” Krul said.

For information on the national Purple Heart Hall of Honor, visit www.thepurpleheart.com.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com