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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Overdue memorial for local fallen Potter County soldier

A young man from Coudersport who lost his life in the Vietnam War will have a local bridge named in his honor during a dedication ceremony at 11 am on Thursday, April 16.

The Rt. 872 bridge near American Legion Post 192 in east Coudersport will be unveiled as the Specialist Donald Stiles Memorial Bridge.

Potter County Honor Guard will accord full military honors. Representatives from the Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets MC will also participate.

Among speakers will be State Senator Joe Scarnati, State Representative Martin Causer, Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel on behalf of the National Veteran and Military Service Committee, and Potter County Veterans Affairs Director Will Worthington.

With the dedication, all nine of the Vietnam War casualties from Potter County will have been memorialized with a bridge named in their honor.

A native of the Rubbertown section of north Coudersport, Donald Lavern Stiles was just 19 when he became the community’s first fatality in Vietnam. He was raised by his grandparents, Edward and Belle Austin Stiles, after his mother Vivian Stiles died when Donnie was less than two years old.

Friends in the Rubbertown neighborhood recall that Stiles was one of the boys who enjoyed playing army. Among the other regulars was his good friend, Bruce Maynard, who also lost his life in the Vietnam War.

Stiles enlisted in the Army at age 17. Following basic training at Fort Dix, N.J., he attended special infantry training in Texas. He married the former Linda Ruggiero. The two had met at Fort Dix.

Soon after the wedding, he was deployed to Vietnam as an atomic demolition munitions specialist, serving with A Battery, 1st Battalion, 7th Artillery, 1st Infantry Division.
Specialist Stiles was killed in action in Binh Duong Province, South Vietnam, on April 2, 1968, after taking another soldier's place on a mission and being hit by bomb fragments from a land mine. 

A special keepsake program will be distributed during Thursday’s dedication ceremony. Organizers are hoping for a large turnout to participate in this long-overdue memorial to a fallen soldier.


Jessica Kenley said...

Awesome. Let's have a big turnout!!!

Anonymous said...

What a honor, bring your flags....

Anonymous said...

Hard to have a large turn out on a Thursday at 11 seems like a convenience just so politicians can make it for a photo op. God forbid we have this event on a weekend when a larger portion of our community and children could attend. This could be and should be a moment to teach our youth the importants of what servicemen and women sacrifice to given us the life we enjoy. Not a photo op squeezed into the senator's schedule. God Bless Donald Stiles for his service to our country.

Anonymous said...

Actually 11:38 you are insulting the family of a fallen soldier with your derogatory comments and that's pretty low in my book. This ceremony is for them so I'm pretty sure they are okay with the time for it. Also if a teacher would like to expose students to a ceremony like this one it's better to have it on a school day than a weekend when they are not in class. Also I do not know one employer who would refuse to allow an employee to attend something like this if he had a sincere desire to participate. There is so much negativity on this message board sometimes.

Anonymous said...

No, 6:16, I don't think that he/she was trying to disrespect the fallen soldier OR his family. They were pointing out that if this event were being held on a weekend or evening when more folks were available, the turnout would be greater as it should be. If you read their whole comment, they praised Spc. Stiles. I think the point was, if this event were held ata different time on a different day, it could be used to show more people and not just young folks, the price that our brave servicemen and servicewomen unfortunately have to pay so that WE can have this debate in a free society. The great point of the article is that a serviceman is being honored for paying the ultimate price for our freedom. Thank You to all of our veterans.

Unknown said...

Well said and very accurate. I was thinking that I would like to go but the time and day make it impossible.