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McKeesport welcomed the community to Memorial Park along Lysle Boulevard for the city’s annual Veterans Day ceremony. The keynote speaker was U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. (retired) Jason DeFelice, who heads the new Junior ROTC program in McKeesport.
McKeesport welcomed veterans and community members to Memorial Park along Lysle Boulevard for the city’s annual Veterans Day ceremony.
City officials were proud to introduce U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. (retired) Jason DeFelice, a McKeesport native who heads the new Junior ROTC program at McKeesport Area High School.
“When I was a student at McKeesport High School, up until I joined the Air Force in 1991 … I viewed Veterans Day just as the majority of students do today – just another day off,” DeFelice said. “However, once I graduated from boot camp, it took on a whole new meaning. I soon realized that Veterans Day was a chance to celebrate, reflect back on every (military) member who has ever served, and thank all veterans for their service to our great country.”
After 24 years of active duty, DeFelice knew it was time to retire and begin a new career. He was moved to tears as he reflected on returning to his alma mater to share with fellow McKeesport Area students the wealth of knowledge and experience he gained in the Air Force.
“I flew home to McKeesport for a job interview, and I remember sitting in my parents’ house,” he said. “My grandfather, a decorated World War II Purple Heart veteran, said to me, ‘You should teach Air Force JROTC at your old high school.’”
DeFelice did the research to make his grandfather’s idea a reality. Upon accepting this new position, he promised to create the best program possible for McKeesport Area students. He want them to become great citizens and community leaders who know their purpose in life.
With the group in its infancy, students did not participate in the Veterans Day ceremony. By next year’s event, DeFelice said, they will be ready to march and carry the American flag.
Participating organizations included American Legion Post 361 of McKeesport, American Legion Post 666 of McKeesport, American Legion Post 447 of Port Vue, Amvets Post 8, and the Liberty Boro Veterans Association. Veterans were treated to a luncheon at the Palisades after the ceremony.