A presentation by FHM Member Tim Hadden
On Monday evening, November 10, 2014, the day before Veterans Day, members and guests of the Finnish Heritage Museum entered the museum to the tunes of the Glenn Miller Orchestra and other popular performers of the 1940's.
Vintage posters of the era invited those in attendance to "Enlist Now" or "Buy War Bonds."
Greeting each guest were three civilian volunteers of the FHM USO Canteen serving bagged lunches of donuts and coffee, Coca-Colas, and sandwiches to all in attendance. See picture below in which sisters Mary, Helen, and Ailiin Saari play the part of USO Canteen volunteers and pass out bags of goodies to visitors, as shown in the additional picture below. Posters kept money flowing to support the war efforts and were not only artistic, but very effective in continuing the war bond efforts.
The audience had come to hear a presentation, "Heroes All - Gone But Not Forgotten," by FHM member Tim Hadden. He had spent countless hours researching and recording the lives and untimely deaths of twenty-six soldiers from the Village of Fairport.
Past issues of The Fairport Beacon, a weekly newpaper of that time published by brothers Neal and Carl Katila, provided much of the information for his presentation. Other sources of information were the Harbor Light yearbooks of Fairport Harding High School, church records from Suomi Zion Lutheran Church, Immanuel Lutheran Church, and First Lutheran (all of Fairport), and past issues of the Painesville Telegraph.
A vital part of his research included interviews conducted with family members of the fallen servicemen.
Like the demographics of the town in the 1940's, the majority of servicemen calling Fairport "home" were Finns. And the majority of those who perished were likewise Finns. The first was Mattias Arvid Jacobson (1895-1918), the last was Norman Richard Luoma (1922-1945). The oldest was almost 38 years of age (Albert G. Kiikka), the youngest was barely nineteen (Adelbert E.J. Pohto).
We honor these heroes:
Matt Jacobson, John E. Cooper, August M. Luoto, Thomas Praskis, Leighton McCormack, Albert K. Kiikka, Arthur R. Sekki, John B. Bodak, Robert G. Aho, Edwin W. Manninen, John J. Toth, David J. Orris, Delmar A. Gray, Arthur B. Congos, Toivo A. Wasara, William J. Ode, Oswald E. Mackey, Donald W. Mattson, Daniel J. Reboczi, Adelbert E.J. Pohto, George E. Katila, Joseph T. Svigel, Arnold W.M. Stuuri, Wilho K. Hill, Steve Urban, Norman Richard Luoma.
In the display at left, the valiant efforts of Wilho K. Hill are documented with the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, photographs, and proclamations.
On the right is the portrait of Private Samuel Kasari, whose family travelled from Virginia to see and hear this important presentation. Below are Veterans (L to R) Bill and Ritchie Orris. Their oldest brother David, was lost at Cassino, Italy.
In the picture below, Richard Urban is on the left, while in the second row are John and Donna (Wargelin) Kennard, who travelled from Virginia. Donna's Uncle, Sam Kasari, fought in WW I and died from his woulds shortly after the signing of the Armistice.
Directly below are displays of patches generally worn on the uniform to identify the unit. The group on the right denote "air" units.
The Kasari display, compliments of the Kennards.
To the right is a U.S. Navy uniform loaned by the Kuivila family. Below is the familiar poster of Uncle Sam doing his recruiting duty. Pictured below are the Purple Heart won by Wilho K. Hill and the accompanying certificate denoting that honor.
Pictures ©Bill Lukshaw FHM photographer. Text by Tim Hadden.
Refreshments were provided by the Saari sisters, Helen, Mary, and Ailiin.