SALEM — Decorated U.S. Marine Corps veteran Paul Fiore of Beverly rose from a wheelchair and saluted as taps was played yesterday for his brother, Ralph, and seven other former Sylvania employees who died in World War II.
More than 100 family members and friends turned out on a sun-spashed Monday morning for the rededication of a memorial to the late workers at Salem State University’s central campus, which was once a Sylvania lighting plant.
Standing in his old military uniform, adorned with medals and battle ribbons, the 92-year-old Fiore was accompanied to yesterday’s ceremony by two other surviving siblings: Josephine, 94, and Carl, 90, a U.S. Navy veteran of WWII.
“When I came home, he was going in,” Paul said of his younger brother, who left Beverly High before graduating to join the Marines. “I gave him hell for going in.”
Ralph Fiore died in 1945 at Okinawa, one of the bloodiest battles of the war. He was 19. “I was home when they came with a Western Union telegram,” said Josephine, who keeps a black-and-white photo of her brother by her kitchen table. “I was home alone. ... I didn’t know how to tell my mother or anybody.”
The marble sundial memorial, which had been in storage for years, was restored recently and rededicated yesterday to the eight Sylvania workers: Christ Andrianopolus, Edward Dumont, William Herlihy, Rene Pelletier, Roland Caron, Ralph Fiore, Stefan Palmer and Frank Wright.
Family members sat under a green tent near the memorial, which was installed next to the campus police station along Loring Avenue.
Irene Bochynski, Palmer’s sister, came with a large group of family members. They brought a small box that contained his Purple Heart and the gold star awarded to Palmer’s mother after the U.S. Army Air Corps radio operator from Salem was killed when his B-17 went down over Germany in 1943.
“This is a very important reminder of the sacrifice our military men and women make every day to preserve our freedom,” Salem State President Patricia Meservey told the crowd.
Michael Colotti, a vice president at Osram Sylvania and former U.S. Army captain, hailed the former company employees for going “above the call of duty, honor and country.”
Several speakers mentioned that the ceremony would not have taken place without the efforts of Dan Mackey, a Salem contractor who died just days ago.
Mackey knew the broken memorial had been placed in storage and urged the Salem Veterans Council to put it back on the former Sylvania property and to hold a rededication ceremony.
“Without his advocacy, it would still be lying in pieces in storage,” Meservey said.
As a last wish for Mackey, a World War II-era plane flew over during the ceremony in tribute to the Sylvania workers.
At Mackey’s wake last week, Roger Leger, commander of the Salem Veterans Council, observed that “old soldiers never die,” quoting from Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s famous farewell address to Congress.
That same sentiment applied yesterday, Leger said, to the Sylvania workers whose names are inscribed on the marble memorial.
“They will always be here,” he said, “and they will always be remembered.”
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.