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Legion to honor WWI vet


February 16. 2013 10:21PM


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SHICKSHINNY – An upcoming ceremony to honor the memory of a local veteran who was killed in action will be a reminder of all veterans' sacrifices, organizers say.


John "Jake" Baluta is coordinating the rededication ceremony of the Jesse Thomas American Legion Post 495 on Saturday, at the post home on Route 239.


Baluta said Thomas was a World War I veteran from Shickshinny who was killed in action on Sept. 6, 1918. He was one of the last casualties of World War I.


The Armistice took place on Nov. 11, 1918. Thomas is buried in Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in Fere-en-Tardenois, France.


"Ironically, this was the first action in which Battery B, 109th Artillery, took part in," Baluta said. "I urge people to come out to honor one of our own who gave his life in defense of our country and honor all who have served our country. He never made it back to Shickshinny."


Baluta, 70, served in Vietnam and he said Americans should never forget what veterans have done for the country and why.


"We just don't want anybody to forget," he said. "Veterans are very important people to society. Without them, what would we be?"


The program will begin at 1 p.m. and will feature U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton; state Rep. Karen Boback, R-Harveys Lake; the commander of the 109th Field Artillery, American Legion officers and Ladies Auxiliary; Sons of the American Legion and Legion Riders.


Baluta said veterans from the Revolutionary War on have preserved our freedom.


"We can't ever forget their sacrifices," Baluta said. "They all went into battle without questioning why."


Baluta is proud Shickshinny is credited with having one of the longest continuously held Memorial Day parades.


"During the Vietnam era, a lot of towns stopped holding their parades," he said. "We never stopped our parade."


Baluta said Shickshinny's first Memorial Day parade was held sometime between 1870 and 1875 and has been held every year since.


Rededication ceremony


What: Rededication of the Jesse Thomas American Legion Post 495



When: Saturday, 1 p.m.



Where: Route 239 North, Shickshinny



About Jesse Thomas: A World War I veteran from Shickshinny, he was killed in action on Sept. 6, 1918. He was one of the last casualties of World War I. The Armistice took place on Nov. 11, 1918.





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