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Norwood American Legion dedicates memorial to POWs, MIAs

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NORWOOD — Two flags were raised from half-staff Sunday in front of the Clark-Robinson American Legion Post 68 on Maple Street, one symbolic of a free nation, the other of soldiers in captivity overseas who fought for that freedom.

The dedication ceremony of the POW/MIA display began at noon, with veterans, post members and Chapter N members of the Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club all in attendance.

In standing salute behind the flagpole in front of the building were 3-foot-tall soldier statues, one for each branch of the U.S. armed forces. Each soldier carried an American flag in its hand.

“This memorial has been placed here to remember those who have served or are currently serving in the uniformed services of the United States,” said Robert M. Henninger, first vice commander of Post 68. “Let us be ever mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal sacrifice. We are compelled to never forget, while we enjoy our daily lives and pleasures, there are others who have endured or may still be enduring the agonies of pain, depravation and imprisonment.”

After the Pledge of Allegiance and an opening prayer, the display was dedicated to prisoners of war and those missing in action in memory of retired Army Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Tuper, a veteran from Norwood who died four years ago after battling a medical condition.

“My brother Ron touched the hearts of everybody,” Michael R. Tuper said. “He was in the Army 20 years.”

Michael Tuper said he got the statues at Massarelli’s Lawn Ornaments Inc. in New Jersey. He had them set up in his yard but, before Ronald died, he told his brother the statues would be more appropriate at the Norwood American Legion.

After Ronald’s death, Michael Tuper decided to donate them as a dedication to POWs and in memory of his brother.

Michael worked all summer on the memorial, stone pathway and landscaping around the area to prepare for the dedication.

Ronald had served as a former Chapter N president of the Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club, whose mission is “to bring home POW/MIAs,” according to Samuel “Bone” Sherman, Norfolk, current N Chapter president.

“Hawg Head (Ron Tuper) was our brother, and he was my best friend, so this means a lot to us,” Mr. Sherman said.

Donald W. Corbine, Russell, who attended the ceremony, is a Korean War veteran who was a POW from December 1950 to September 1953.

“I read about this in the paper and said, ‘I’ve just got to go,’” he said.

His wife, Elevene E., said his experience as a captured soldier in Korea is not a story he enjoys sharing.

“It’s hard for him to talk about this,” she said. “It was cold, there was no food and it was just an awful experience.”

Mrs. Corbine said her husband wanted to attend Sunday’s ceremony to honor all the POWs of the Korean War.

“He left a lot of friends there who never came home,” she said.

Although he never was a POW, the dedication brought back several unpleasant memories for James F. Liebfred, a World War II veteran from Norwood.

“It reminds me of a lot of things, and not very nice,” he said. “I don’t like to be reminded, really.”

A moment of silence was held for all POW/MIAs, followed by trumpeter Bernard Hazelton from American Legion Post 79 in Massena, who played taps and sang the national anthem.

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