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A Veterans Day Candlelight Welcome Home Service will take place near The Vietnam Memorial on the south lawn of the Luzerne County Courthouse at 6 p.m. on Nov. 11.

times leader staff photos/Fred AdAMS

The anchor from the USS Wilkes-Barre, a U.S. Navy cruiser that saw service late in World War II, can be viewed at the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.

WILKES-BARRE – Hanover Township native Mike Truszkowski will keep alive the fading patriotic tradition of bugling “Taps” at the Veterans Day Candlelight Welcome Home Service to take place Nov. 11 at the Vietnam and Korean war memorials on the south lawn of the Luzerne County Courthouse. The event is hosted by the Luzerne County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee and the Korean War Veterans Association of Wyoming Valley.

“It’s pretty rare these days to find a live bugler,” said Truszkowski. The 24-year-old graduate student at Bloomsburg University can think of only one other man in the area who shares his ability to bugle the well-known military song.

Over the past 10 years, since his high school crossing guard at Hanover Area, local war veteran Eugene Sufrinko, first sparked his interest in bugling, Truszkowski has played at about 150 veterans’ events including memorial services and funerals. After Sufrinko passed away in June 2005 his family honored Truszkowski by giving him Sufrinko’s bugle. Truszkowski will play it at the service.

Truszkowski said he feels honored and proud to participate in the ceremony.

“If anything I wish there were more buglers around,” Truszkowski said. To help with the shortage of live players for veterans’ services a ceremonial bugle is often used. The ceremonial bugle is an actual bugle with a digital recording inserted into the bell of the horn that produces the “Taps” melody so that it appears the person using the instrument is playing the song.

Truszkowski thinks it is hard for people who are not musicians or do not have a keen ear for music to tell the difference between when a person is really playing “Taps” on the bugle or using a ceremonial one.

He wishes more trumpet players would take up bugling. “To play the bugle is easy if you are a trumpet player,” he said. “The hardest part is to put the feeling into it.”

Neno Sartini, co-host of the service, said he thinks Truszkowski’s playing of “Taps” will add something special and unique to the service in honor of the recent recovery of the remains of Army Cpl. Joseph Gregori, formerly of West Pittston, and U.S. Air Force Maj. John Conlon III, formerly of Wilkes-Barre. The POW/MIA soldiers served in the Korean and Vietnam wars, respectfully.

Sartini, a retired Air Force master sergeant, is also pleased that Suzanne Hall of Tunkhannock will sing the national anthem and other patriotic songs at the service.

Hall has been singing at local veterans’ events for the past 20 years, Sartini said.

Hall said she has sung at about 100 veterans’ events and never grows tired of it. “I feel it’s my duty as an American because of what they have done for me and my family,” Hall said. “I could never pay them back.”

The music teacher at St. Michael’s School in Hoban Heights, Tunkhannock, said there is a special feeling she has when singing patriotic music for veterans. “It really does stir you from inside,” she said.

Robert Alper, co-host of the service, hopes people who attend will be moved enough to remember veterans who have fought in past wars and those who are now fighting for America.

“The torch of freedom is passed from one generation to the next and it has been said that a veteran does not die until he or she is no longer remembered,” he said.

Alper thinks Veterans Day is more than him remembering his service in the Korean War as a sergeant in the First Marine Division. “This is not for us,” he said. “It is so imperative that we pass on to the future generations just what America stands for.”

The principle speaker will be Brendan Devine, chief of voluntary services, at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Plains Township. The public is invited to the event which will begin at 6 p.m.

Sartini and Alper also hope the local community will attend a Veterans Day program to take place at 9 a.m. on Thursday at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Plains Township. The event, weather permitting, will take place outside of the center or on the first floor.

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