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5 inducted into Berks County Military Hall of Fame

Five more military heroes have been inducted into the Berks County Military Hall of Fame.

The county commissioners accepted the nomination of the new inductees, bringing the total number to 68, during their weekly meeting Thursday.

The hall of fame was founded in 2009 to recognize the men and women from the county who demonstrated gallantry in combat or achieved notable accolades for their military service. Berks is among only a few counties in Pennsylvania to honor its veterans with a hall of fame.

Each year the county assembles a volunteer representative from each of the branches of service to review nominations and present the names to Ken Lebron, director of county veterans affairs office, who presents them to the commissioners for approval.

The hometown heroes are then honored at the annual Berks County Veterans Appreciation Dinner and Dance in the Wilson High School gymnasium. This year’s event will be held Nov. 6.

The year’s inductees and their achievements, according to the county, are:

Army Sgt. Kenneth Lee Baus was the recipient of the Army Commendation Medal for Heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force. He distinguished himself by taking heroic actions in September 1968 while serving in Vietnam when his unit was attacked.

With complete disregard for his own safety, Baus exposed himself to the intense hostile fire and ensured the continuation of communication between the gun section and those working to supply the section with desperately needed ammunition. His valorous actions contributed to the defeat of the enemy force.

The late Marine Corps Sgt. Raymond Effinger Schmieder was the recipient of the Navy Achievement Medal with Valor in connection with military operations against the enemy while serving in Vietnam. He performed in an exemplary manner and participated in several major combat operations from January 1967 to January 1968.

Displaying exceptional initiative and technical ability, Schmieder was instrumental in the preparation of maps, charts and briefing aids which greatly enhanced operational planning and the overall effectiveness of his unit.

He demonstrated superior resourcefulness during the planning of Operation Hickory by skillfully preparing several large, color-contoured maps for use by the commanding general and his staff, and he assisted the intelligence officer in briefing the staff. During Operation Buffalo, Schmieder assisted in moving enemy documents and equipment seized during the fighting for immediate exploitation, which led to heavy losses inflicted on the North Vietnamese Army Regiment.

The late Army Pfc. Max R. Weller was awarded a Silver Star for gallantry in action against the enemy in Germany on March 2, 1945, when his company was subjected to heavy mortar and automatic weapons.

Weller, with complete disregard for himself, continued to transmit messages and maintain radio communication within the unit. His brave action caused the enemy to concentrate fire in his direction, which resulted in his death.

The late Army Tech Sgt. Mary Jane Painter Thompson was the recipient of the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with the Bronze Star for her service in 1944 and 1945 as a cryptographic analyst in the Office of Strategic Services. The OSS was the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency.

Thompson’s overseas assignments included deployments to Morocco, Algiers, France and Italy. In her position, she commanded 15 personnel and was responsible for maintaining communication with soldiers who were sent behind enemy lines on clandestine missions. She knew that if her communication ceased they were either captured or killed in action.

Following her military service, she dedicated her life to helping veterans in her community through the Mount Penn VFW Post 8993.

The late Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Philip Domenico Ciofalo was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor Device in connection with operations against insurgent communist forces in Vietnam in August 1966.

During a reconnaissance operation in Cam Lo River Valley in the Quan Tri Province, Ciofalo’s company came under attack by the enemy. A platoon was deployed to the company’s flank to provide cover for them, but enemy machine gun fire prevented the unit from being able to advance or evacuate their wounded soldiers.

Ciofalo maneuvered across the fire-swept area, placed two Marines in position and remained in the open to direct their fire on the machine gun until the weapon was destroyed. Although he was suffering from a wound and continually exposed to heavy enemy fire, he organized a team and led them across a 200-meter span on three separate occasions to retrieve the wounded and supervise their evacuation.

For more information on the Veterans Appreciation Dinner Dance tickets, visit any Boscov’s location, or send checks for $15 per ticket to Wilson High School, Attention JROTC, 2601 Grandview Blvd., West Lawn, PA 19609; or call 610-378-5601.

Source: Berkshire mont

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