Military

Aliquippa native earns his place in military hall of valor – Opinion – The Times

On Sunday, March 29, the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum Trust will induct the next group of veterans into the Joseph A. Dugan Jr. Hall of Valor. Included in that group of inductees will be an Aliquippa native Donald Dukovich.

Soldier and Sailors Hall, in Pittsburgh’s Oakland section, pays tribute to Pennsylvania veterans who have received the military’s highest awards for valor, which includes the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Silver Star for bravery and heroism during times of military conflict. He will join the more than 700 heroes who have been inducted in the Hall of Valor since 1963.

We knew Dukovich by his nickname, Dugan, a fellow steelworker and a carefree, well-thought-of person who was a good pitcher in the Aliquippa Community Baseball League.

Dugan passed away in 1973. Although he was among the many returning veterans, we weren’t aware of his decorated service. Very few conversations among returning vets included service time and individual experiences.

He received the Silver Star for bravery during the Battle of the Bulge. The citation accompanying the medal reads:

“Private First Class Donald Dukovich, United States Army, 82nd Division, 504th Parachute Infantry, was awarded the Silver Star for heroic conduct on 26 December 1944 about one and one-half miles from Bra, Belgium. During a tremendous barrage of artillery and mortar fire from the advancing enemy, Private First Class Dukovich, company medic, set out to give aid to a squad of men, of which many had been wounded by the heavy enemy concentration. On his way forward, he was wounded, but he kept going and efficiently administered necessary first aid to the men. He then made many trips to evacuate the men safely to the rear slopes of a nearby hill. When all of the men had been cared for, Dukovich had his own wounds dressed. His swift actions and steadfast devotion to duty were directly responsible for saving the lives of the more seriously wounded and bringing immediate relief to all of the wounded.”

A deserving award to one of our own town’s typically generous persons.

Remember local sports heroes

My first stop in reading the morning Times is the obituary page, and I’m relieved when I don’t recognize any of the listed deceased names. This past week, two names took me back to my sportswriting days when I reported on their outstanding careers.

They were former West Aliquippan Tom Sargeson and Ambridge native Joe Guido Sr. I was friends with both of them.

Sargeson led the Roger Jones-coached cross-country team in 1946 to the school’s first PIAA state championship. There have been a few more state championships in football and basketball, but that was the first for the school and town. Sargeson also won the state crown for coming in first in that 1946 race.

For those achievements he was twice inducted into the Aliquippa Sports Hall of Fame, once for being on that championship team and again for his individual championship.

After marriage, Sargeson moved to Monaca and served on the town council for a number of years.

Joe Guido was an outstanding halfback on the successful Ambridge High School football teams in the 1950s. He held the Beaver County scoring record in 1955 and helped lead the 1956 team to an undefeated season. I remember his game against archrival Aliquippa in 1956 when he ran for two touchdowns in a 53-13 Bridgers win.

On the Aliquippa team that year was a future pro football Hall of Famer, Mike Ditka but the Quips were badly outclassed that game.

Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of Tom and Joe.

Gino Piroli is an occasional community columnist for The Times.

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