When Russell J. Salvatore created the Patriots & Heroes Park in front of his Steaks Chops & More Restaurant and Salvatore’s Grand Hotel at 6675 Transit Road in Williamsville, he envisioned the park as being a gathering place for veteran’s celebrations. On Sunday, November 11 at 11 a.m. he will celebrate that vision when the third annual “Jump In On PTSD” patriotic and elaborate Veteran’s Day tribute is held. What makes this year’s celebration so special is that it will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
The local Veteran’s Association of the 3rd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) of the U.S. Army National Guard will sponsor the tribute to our veterans and a fund raiser to benefit the Jack H. Wisby, Jr. PTSD Clinic for men & Center for Hope for women at the Batavia VA Medical Center. Donations will be placed in a special “Holy Grail” and collected by members of the 19th Special Forces Group. The public is encouraged to attend the hour long ceremony.
John DiScuillo, the Vice President of Programming, Special Events and Creativity at WBBZ-TV, will serve as the Master of Ceremony. The United States Air Force 914th and 107th Color Guard from the Niagara Falls Airbase will present the colors. It will march into the park, followed by 14 members of the Caledonia Pipe Bank, members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, all branches of the military service representing local American Legion, AMVETS, 40&8, Marine Corps League, VFW and Masonic Posts; Latino and African American Veterans, all other veterans in attendance and members of the United States Naval Sea Cadets and the Boy Scouts. The host organization, the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) will bring up the rear. Brian Will, a U.S. Army Veteran and Grand Chaplin of the Grand Lodge of Masons in New York State, will deliver the invocation.
The Veterans Day celebration will include a USO-style musical performance by Music on the Front Lines, led by Founder, CEO and Music Director Van Taylor and COO Ron Walker, both of whom are members of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. Taylor has been performing these shows around the world for our servicemen and women for 43 years. Melissa Kate, Joyce Nixon and George Miller will be the vocalists. Ms. Kate will perform the National Anthem and Ms. Nixon will sing God Bless American before Ms. Kate will deliver a salute to the five branches of the armed services. Walker and Ms. Kate will end the festivities with a rendition of Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” after a special solo presentation by vocalist Miller.
The Keynote address will be delivered by SGM Douglas G. Pechtel (Ret.), who joined the U.S. Army in 1974 and spent 10 years with the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne). In 2001 his unit was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, spending seven months conducting combat operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his warfare operations.
Russell J. Salvatore, a veteran who served in the U.S. Army in the early 1950’s and whose generosity has benefited many veteran organizations over the years, is excited about hosting this tribute: “We built this park on an extremely valuable Transit Road acreage to honor America’s fallen patriots and heroes. We want all veterans—and citizens—to feel at home in this park as they relax and reflect in a tranquil setting. The Veterans Day event is what the park was built for.”
THE 19TH SPECIAL FORCES COMPANY
During the 1960’s and 70’s the local Special Forces Company conducted Airborne missions all over the country with helicopters and C-130’s from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. These U.S. Army Green Berets, along with their sister units, another Company based in Schenectady and a third from White Plains, have remained close. Over 100 veterans and their families dedicated a tree and monument to honor 47 of their fallen comrades during a 45th reunion in 2013 at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and earlier this year they celebrated its 50th reunion with a weekend of activities in Niagara Falls.
While looking for a cause to support a few years ago , they learned a Vietnam Veteran from their group was dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other health issues. PTSD is caused from experiencing severe trauma or being in a life-threatening event either during war or in a noncombat situation. For many veterans, it impacts and alters their everyday lives. Relapses are common.
“This member of our group told us about the outstanding care he was receiving at the Jack H. Wisby, Jr. PTSB Clinic in the Batavia VA Medical Center,” explains SGM John F. Harrington (RET). “We have since learned of other fellow members of our Veterans Assn. who have received tremendous care at that facility.” SSG Louis A. Scarozza (RET) adds: “It turns out this little known clinic is among the highest rated in the United States.”
The goal of the “Jump in on PTSD” campaign is to raise funds so the clinic may better serve its veterans and gain public recognition of its successes and the results of the professional medical care it provides.
Those wishing to contribute are encouraged to make checks to: “VA WNY Healthcare System,” and on the memo line, enter “GPF 1935 PTSD Residential Treatment Program.” This ensures every cent goes to the Jack H. Wisby, Jr. PTSB Clinic. For the Center of Hope, makes checks out to: VA WNY Healthcare System,” and on the memo line, enter “GPF 1933 WOMAN VETERANS RESIDENTIAL PROGRAM.”
If you cannot attend the ceremony to place your donation in the Special Forces’ “Holy Grail,” donations may be sent to CSM Alfred R. LaChance (RET), “Financial Minister,” 4732 Porter Center Road, Lewiston, NY, 14092.
Lead image: Special Forces members collect donations at the Holy Grail