Banners hung on University, Patteson to honor Morgantown veterans

You will be seeing some new faces on University Avenue and Patteson Drive in Morgantown thanks to a project spearheaded by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) Mountaineer Woman’s Club (MWC).  

The banners lining the two roadways feature photos of military veterans whom families and friends have chosen to honor. 

MWC President Fay Massullo said the theme chosen by the GFWC state president was to celebrate heroes. 

“We chose to celebrate the veterans as our heroes,” Massullo said. “We had seen these military banners hanging in small towns around and I thought, if the small towns could do it, why couldn’t Morgantown?” 

The 2’x4’ vinyl banners honor 59 military veterans from the Morgantown area. 

Massullo said the banners were put up earlier this week and will remain there indefinitely. 

When they are ultimately taken down, Massullo said they will return them to the families who want them. 

Nine of those who are pictured on the banners served in Korea, 16 in Vietnam, 11 during the Cold War, eight in the Persian Gulf and eight in Iraq. There are two who served in the in the Marine Corps, 32 in the Army, 10 in the Air Force,12 in the Navy and one in the Army National Guard. 

There are 16 World War II veterans pictured on the banners, two of whom — Cpl. Bruce Blaney and Staff Sgt. Donald Newlon — live in the Morgantown area. 

Blaney, as well as Tech Sgt. William Biro Jr., actually pre-dated the formation of the U.S. Air Force and served with its predecessor, the U.S. Army Air Corps. 

Among the banners you will also find Pfc. Gordon Dean Perry, a 19-year-old Marine who was killed in action (KIA) during the Persian Gulf War. 

Another honoree, Staff Sgt. William (Bill) Bonsall, was a WWII prisoner of war who went on to compete in the Olympic Games just a few years after escaping a German internment camp.  

He ultimately became the first coach of the West Virginia University men’s gymnastics program and was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. 

Between the 59 individuals, there are seven Purple Hearts, three Silver Stars and seven Bronze Stars represented.

Massullo said the banners have already been getting a lot of positive response from the community. 

“I can say that the first night going down University Avenue we saw our nephew who was a Vietnam Veteran with two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star,” Massullo said. 

“It brought me to tears, so I can understand how family members feel about certain things,” she said. “We are proud of these veterans and all others that were not recognized with a banner.” 

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