PLAINS TOWNSHIP — Communities all over our area are using this Memorial Day holiday to honor those who lost their lives in service of our county.
But an observance Monday morning in Luzerne County was a bit different from the normal Memorial Day parades.
The ceremony in Plains Township included the firing of a salute and music from a bugle, but here’s what it made this Memorial Day different and special.
It’s the first in the township’s new Veterans Memorial Park, and it’s the first with an armored personnel carrier in the middle of it.
It was reunion day for Army veteran Casimer Bacewicz. He drove an armored personnel carrier in Germany more than 50 years ago, and he has the pictures to prove it.
“I was 17 years old. I had a five man crew. We were traveling mechanics and supported six field artillery, and we did major engine repairs for the 33rd Armored, 48th Infantry,” Bacewicz recalled.
Bacewicz says that seeing an identical armored personnel carrier again is like seeing an old friend. He added they handle well, and yes, they do float.
Bringing the carrier to Plains Township was more than just getting a piece of equipment the Army didn’t want anymore and dropping it in the middle of a lot.
First, they had to get it here from Alabama, and that cost about $5,000. Plains Township commissioners say it was a rusted mess, but students at a nearby vo-tech school painted it and worked on the restoration.
“It’s a perfect location,” said Commissioner Jerry Yozwiak. “We have the vision here, the board had the vision and make it clean and green and start this Veterans Memorial Park to all veterans who have served.”
Yozwiak and fellow township commissioner Rob Sax are both veterans. Sax says this park project started small.
“We just wanted to restore it to make it green, and we decided to make it a veterans park,” Sax says.
The Plains Township commissioners hope the park and the armored personnel carrier will be at Maffett and River Streets for decades to come as a reminder of service and sacrifice.