Sgt. Ian Gelig, KIA
The Patriots Luncheon is hosted by the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Nearly 200 people gave standing ovations for each of nine local veteran honorees whose personal stories of courage, duty and sacrifice were shared by guest speakers. Gold Star families were also in attendance. (see their stories below)
“We owe a great gratitude to all of our veterans who have given up all of the most enjoyable things in life – the comfort of their homes, families and loved ones – to protect our sovereign country,” said Gold Star mother Delia Gelig.
Last year the SCV Chamber of Commerce founded the Ian Gelig Scholarship Program, named in honor of Delia’s son, Sgt. Ian T.D. Gelig, an Army paratrooper who was killed in Afghanistan in March 2010.
The scholarship provides financial support to Santa Clarita Valley veterans and their immediate family members who are pursuing higher education.
In April, the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce announced the winner of this year’s Ian Gelig Scholarship Award to Marine, Mr. Timothy McGinley (right). McGinley served in the Marines as an Infantryman and was deployed in Iraq. Since returning home he has joined the LAPD and is currently working on his general ed classes at College of the Canyons and plans to transfer to a 4-year university to earn a Bachelors of Science in Administration of Justice.
Dick Roelofs, WWII Navy
Dick Roelofs enlisted into the Naval Reserve on September 1, 1942 when he was 21 years old, despite his mother’s urging him to wait until he was drafted.
After 3-1/2 weeks of boot camp I was sent to a Primary F. C. School for 16 weeks of training in Newport, Rhode Island. After his class of 250 trainees completed their training, Dick was one of 25 to be promoted to a 3rd class petty and would handle the maintenance and operation of the equipment which directs the position and firing of the guns.
Upon leaving the Advanced F. C. School in Washington, D, C. Dick reported to Mobile, AL. for the finishing of the USS David W. Taylor. As part of the pre-commissioning crew Dick assisted with the installation of some of the Fire Con- trol gear.
Dick sailed to the Atlantic Ocean on the USS Taylor for it’s “shakedown” cruise and late in 1943 the Taylor was assigned to escort duty for a group of merchant vessels headed for the South Pacific. The ships departed from New Orleans on New Years Day of 1944 and transited the Panama with a final destination of Funa Futi Atoll in the Ellice Islands. While in the South Pacific
Dick was promoted to Fire Controlman 2nd Class.
The USS Taylor reported to the Seventh Fleet and took part in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands Invasions. Dick would later submit his application for the V-12 Program, a Naval engineering program in which accepted sailors could earn their commission. Dick was accepted into the program detached from his ship in June, 1944. At the University of California at Berkeley he would study electrical engineering for the remainder of the war. While in his junior year at Berkeley the war ended and Dick opted out of the program. After 3 1⁄2 years of service, he was honorably discharged.
Later, Dick would serve 22 months of active duty in Korea in 1951 and 1952 where he was promoted to Fire Controlman 1st Class.
Joseph Mattillo WWII Air Force
Joseph Mattillo was born in Cleveland, Ohio on Feb. 20, 1920. When Joseph was 12 years old he worked on his Uncle’s 100 acre farm in Cleve- land.
He would plant wheat, corn, and other vegetables. He would then sell these vegetables on the highway.
Joseph graduated from John Hayes High School in Cleveland. When he was 21 years old. he worked in a defense plant in Cleveland. He was drafted on June 21, 1942.
Joseph was a corporal in the Air Force. He went to Biloxi, Mississippi for 3 days, and then he went to West Virginia for 9 days. Later, he went from New York to England on the Queen Mary. On the Queen Mary, there were 10,000 troops. They slept on the decks and the floors inside the ship.
They stopped at the Rock of Gibraltar where the ship was shot at. It took them 10 days to get to England. They set up an air field in England 60 miles from London. Joseph had no military experience and had never fired a gun before. He stayed in England for 3 months. He went to North Africa for 3 months.
He then went to Sicily and Naples, and stayed at Rome Champion Air Field for one year. In August of 1945 he was sent to Virginia where he was discharged from the Air Force. He went to a hospital in Santa Ana. California for 3 months. He went back to Cleveland and then decided to move to California to stay with his cousin. He bought 3 lots in North Hollywood, California.
He and his brother built a house there for his parents. When it was completed, his parents moved to live there. In April of 1950 Joseph went to Montana to work on a dam in Hungry Horse. When he left there, he traveled to West Palm Beach, Florida to meet Josephine. He had been corresponding with her for 2 years, but they had never met. He stayed there for 10 days and they decided that they would get married and she would move to California.
On May 12, 1951 they were married in North Hollywood, California. They were happily married for 60 years. She passed away in 2011. She was an adorable and loving person. Joseph felt that she was a gift from God. They had three children, two grandchildren, and a great Grandson. They spent many summers in West Palm Beach, Florida with Josephine’s parents. They also travelled to Hawaii, New York, Washington D.C., and Europe. Joseph had an Italian Restaurant in North Hollywood. He and his brother had 2 partners. The restaurant seated 100 people.
He also had a construction business with his brother for many years. Joseph worked in construction during the day, and at night he worked in his restaurant. Joseph and his brother built apartments and custom homes. In 1983, they won an award presented by the Ceramic Tile Institute for the beautiful home they built in Lake Encino. Even though Joseph is now 92 years old, he has not stopped working. He makes silver buckles and earrings. He has traveled to Australia and New Zealand to find opals and other gem stones because he is a rock hound. He also studied jewelry design at Long Beach College. Joseph also owns and man- ages a shopping center in Valencia, California.
Harry Bell, WWII Army Air Corps
Harry Bell, July 2, 1923 to July 5, 2012 he turned 89 years old on Monday.
Harry died July 5, 2012 doing what he loved to do, flying. Harry began his flying career at the beginning of WWII at age 21.
Harry enlisted in Army Air Corps in 1944. He was sent to Aircraft Gunnary School after basic to Florida, then Lincoln, Nebraska attached to a bomber group. Then to Tucson, Ariz., for training in B-24 Liberators for two months, then off to Banger, Maine with his crew after picking up their new B-24 at Lincoln, Neb built by Henry Ford. Ford was building one B-24 per hour, 24-7, and produced more B-24’s than any other aircraft built in WWII.
Glenn Barker, WWII Army, Bronze Star
Glenn W. Barker enlisted in the Army Air Corps at age 17.5 at the beginning of World War II and served with the 9th Army Air Corps as an Automotive Mechanic. Glenn worked with the Lorraine Crane and C-2 wrecker.
While in France Glenn was regularly sent on missions to salvage downed air- craft. While on mission, driving a jeep, Glenn found himself in a mine field. He spotted a mine in time to take actions necessary to save his crew. For his actions, Glenn Barker was awarded the Bronze Star. He was honorably dis- charged from the Army Air Corps at the end of his service.
Following the war, Glenn met his wife Iris Lillian in Begger Hill, England, and was married at age 21. They returned to the United States and settled in California and were married for 62 years.
Harry Gratz WWII
Harry Gratz is a World War 2 veteran and will be celebrating his 94th birthday this month on July 20.. He was Born in 1918 and raised in New York City Harlem. He attended Marist High School in New Jersey.
Harry was trained at Fort Dix, New Jersey, where he decided to enter the Signal Core. He served from 1941-1945 in Casablanca among other places. One experience Harry recalls was when he and his troop were assigned to protect a monastery while the Germans were bombing it is that he injured both his legs. Harry was sent to a hospital where he developed malaria and there was an outbreak of yellow jaundice. Thankfully, in the years following, Harry made a full recovery.
When Harry returned home, he married and had two daughters. Harry and his wife shared a great love and were married fifty years. They each enjoyed volunteering at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center for many years until his wife passed away with Alzheimer’s disease. One of his daughters works in television while the other is part of a law company. Harry is an advocate for Alzheimer’s disease research advancement in which he hopes to be a part of finding a cure. Harry is also a co-founder to the veterans plaza where they have served 104,000 veterans.
Today, Harry enjoys answering his mail, exercising, and playing for his Wii bowling team. He writes many letters and columns addressing his opinions and advice on diverse issues. In addition to spreading awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease in Harry is a voice for disabled veterans and a voice of inspiration to those who listen.
Bryan Moss, Korea
Bryan Moss was born and raised in Glendale and graduated from Herbert Hoover High School in 1951. He joined the US Navy on November 5, 1951 and was discharged on November 3, 1959 after serving 4 years active duty and served another 4 years in active reserves as a Radioman First Class Petty.
Bryan was hired by the F.B.I. February 1956 as a Radio Communications Officer and worked out of the San Diego Field Office until he resigned 1964 and was hired by Columbia Ribbon and Carbon of Glen Cove, NY. He was later moved to the Phoenix, AZ office 1955 where he resigned from in May of 1976 and was hired by Compugraphic Corp., Willimington, MA, for Los Angeles Territory of Phoenix Office. Bryan was transfered to the L.A. Office for the Newspaper Division, as a Specialist. He retired in 1997.
Bryan has three children, David, 52, Glenn, 50 & Lori Anne 48,and 4 Grand Children
He and his wife, Gail G. Moss, have been married 15 years
Bryan is now active in the Veterans of the USS Iowa and Pacific Battleship Center, who just placed the ex-USS Iowa BB-61 in San Pedro, Berth 87, Port of Los Angeles.
Frank LaRosa, Vietnam Veteran
Frank LaRosa has always believed in and live by President John F. Kennedy’s words, “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You…… But What Can You Do For Your Country”
From the early stages of the Vietnam war, Frank knew he belonged in the service. He was meant to serve his country, especially after 10 young men had been killed in action and several had returned home wounded. Frank’s parents objected to his wishes to join the Army or Marine corps because of the volume of news reports showing grue- some battles and casualties of soldiers and Marines. Eventually, at age 16, Frank’s parents agreed to sign the waivers necessary for him to join the Navy at age 16.
Frank’s first duty station was aboard the USS New Jersey – BB 62 -“The Black Dragon” in Vietnam, The Most Decorated Battleship in US Naval History. When the ship was decommissioned, Frank was transferred to the USS Mansfield – DD 728 – Sumner Class Destroyer with 7th Fleet Carrier Group.
During a firing mission Frank was injured when a 5 inch, 60 lb. shell was dropped on his head. He was evacuated by to an Army Field Hospital in Phan Thiet, Vietnam which was rocketed that night.
After several temporary duty assignments in Vietnam areas such as Vinh Long, Mekong Delta and Da Nang, Frank returned to ship duty on the USS Mansfield. Frank would later be assigned to Naples, Italy and NATO – Europe.
Frank was discharged honorably from the Navy in 1973 and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1974 where he was assigned to Willow Grove, Pennsylvania as a helicopter mechanic until his discharge is 1977.
Frank has been a life member of the Disabled American Veterans for 33 years and is currently the President of the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Lost Patrol Chapter 355 whose mission is to help veterans and their families of all era’s in any way while at the same time, show them Honor, Respect, Brotherhood, Comradery, Friendship, along with the knowledge that they are not alone and have a place and other veterans to turn to.
Frank is also involved with other organizations to include Veterans of Modern Warfare, Operation Gratitude, American Legion Post 507, Habitat For Heroes, For Veterans, For The Troops, Wounded Warriors, Soldiers Angels, Iraq – Afghanistan Veterans of America, Task Force Omega – POW – MIA’s, AV Point Man Ministries, Patriot Guard Riders and other non-profit organizations, centered around helping all veterans, getting the homeless veterans help, housing and heath care and also helping and supporting returning veterans and their families.
As a Vietnam Veteran, Frank feels it is an honor and his duty is to reach out to all veterans and help in any way he can, so that they don’t continue to have the feelings of being alone and abandoned.
Joe Lyznick, Afghanistan
IT1(SW/AW) Joseph M. Lyznick graduated from Canyon High School in 1996 and was accepted into California State University, Northridge as a Music Business major, playing lead trumpet in the studio band, the Marching Matadors, and the symphony.
He enlisted into the United States Navy on February 12th, 1999.
After boot camp and RM “A” School he was assigned to the CVN-72, USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, where they participated in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a past-time, he played trumpet in the ship’s band “Man Overboard”, in order to help entertain the crew while on deployment.
While on the Lincoln he dedicated his free time towards studying computer systems and warfare qualifications. Eventually his studies earned him Surface War- fare (SW) and Aviation Warfare (AW) specializations in Combat Systems 3rd Division (CS-3).
His administration of the HP-UX supply systems NALCOMIS, RSUPPLY, RAD- MIN, and OMMS provided the logistical support for the ships and troops in the nearby arena.
After leaving CVN-72 he provided the same support from the airbase NAS Sigonella, Sicily, Italy. Prior to leaving for his next command, he spear-headed the development of a 4 person division, which was necessary to maintain the work- load that was needed to administer NAS Sigonella’s logistical systems.
Afterwards he was assigned to the aircraft squadron Airtevron-9 (VX-9) at NAWS China Lake, CA where he volunteered to become the squadron’s Personnel Security Assistant (PSA). His duties included, in cooperation with the NAWS China Lake Police Department, conducting background security checks for new and renewal clearance requests, security indoctrinations and training, incoming and outgoing visitor requests, and upholding on-site security restriction regulations. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in November of 2007 and is currently in the VA Work-Study program and utilizing the Post 9/11 GI Bill to earn his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brandman University.
What he finds most rewarding about his 2 tours of duty and his over 8.5 years of Naval service is the fact that he had the opportunity to provide the logistical availability and support that was necessary for the troops at the “tip of the spear” to “get the job done”.
Chris Wright, Desert Storm
Chris joined the Army at the age of 19 and fought in Desert Storm as a Mortar Gunner with the 3rd Infantry Division, and was awarded The Army Commendation Medal for his role in assisting the United Nations Coalition in defeating the Iraqi forces.
After the war, Chris was discharged, and returned to California where he continued his service in the Army Reserves in Mili- tary Intelligence until the Military downsizing that took effect in the early 1990’s and his unit was deactivated.
Chris and his wife Dawn have been married for 18 years and have 2 children; son Timothy and Daughter, Audrey.
Chirs is an active member of The American Legion Post 507 in Newhall, and also an American Legion Rider, Chapter 507.
He is also active with the community with volunteering with Habitat for Heroes, the Santa Clarita Shelter, and daily volunteer work on a Help line.
Gelig, who held the rank of specialist, had been in Afghanistan since August with the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, after serving in Kuwait for 15 months starting in July 2007 with the 126th Transportation Company at Fort Bragg. Gelig enlisted in the Army in 2006.
He is survived by his parents, Tim and Delia Gelig of Stevenson Ranch, and sisters Vanessa and Liana Gelig. He was a 2002 graduate of William S. Hart High School in Newhall.