Snyder: Measures would honor local heroes for their sacrifices

Bills would name junction, span for two killed in battles in Vietnam, Somalia

HARRISBURG, Feb. 11 – State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, said that the state House of Representatives today unanimously approved bills honoring two members of America’s armed forces from southwestern Pennsylvania killed in action in Vietnam and Somalia.

"It is with much sadness but tremendous pride that the ultimate sacrifices of two men from Washington and Greene counties are remembered and honored," Snyder said. "It is with great love and respect that the commonwealth honors these fallen heroes."

Snyder said her House Bill 178 would name the Exit 28 Mon-Fayette Expressway Interchange with state routes 43 and 88 in Centerville, Washington County, as the Marine Corporal Thomas R. Matty Memorial Interchange.

Snyder’s H.B. 179 would designate the Route 88 bridge over Muddy Creek in Cumberland Township, Greene County, as the Army Corporal Richard W. Kowalewski, Jr. Memorial Bridge.

"Corporal Matty was but 22 years old when he was killed in the Quang Nam Province region on December 21, 1967, six weeks after arriving in Vietnam," said Snyder, who noted that Bethlehem Center High School still honors the Denbo, Washington County, native with an award presented annually to a graduating senior.

Snyder said Matty served with the 1st Marine Division and was one of 2,633 military deaths from Pennsylvania during the Vietnam Conflict. Matty also is honored with an inscription on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Snyder said Cpl. Kowalewski, who was born in Waynesburg and later lived in Crucible, was killed Oct. 3, 1993, during a search-and-rescue mission that went terribly wrong in Mogadishu, Somalia. He was a member of, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and was deployed to Somalia in August 1993 as part of a United Nations peace-keeping operation.

"Corporal Kowalewski joined the Army just two days after graduating from Carmichaels Area High School in 1992," said Snyder, noting that he was one of the 18 Ranger and Delta Force members killed in what has been described as the U.S. military's single most costly firefight since Vietnam.

The horrific street battle – and Cpl. Kowalewski’s role in the convoy sent to rescue downed helicopter pilots -- was depicted in the novel and movie "Black Hawk Down."
 
"He was only 20 when he died in the streets of that African city," Snyder said. "However, as his fiancée said, he died doing something he believed in, something great for all Americans."

Both measures now go to the state Senate for consideration.