LOCK HAVEN - Friends, well-wishers, combined with local and out of state family members of the Gunsallus and Seawalt family joined together Friday in the Clinton County Commissioners meeting room to recognize three veterans receiving service medals.
Three men from the same family were honored during the medal presentation - James "Al" Gunsallus and Robert "Bobby" Hayes Gunsallus, and Robert's step son, John Martin Seawalt.
Staff Sergeant Lange Gillen and PFC Don Hills presented the colors and led the large group of attendees in the Pledge of Alligiance. Clinton County Commissioner Pete Smeltz welcomed the group by saying, "We are here to give due honor and recognize the importance of those who have served this nation."
From left are, James “Al” Gunsallus, Robert “Bobby” Gunsallus, John M. Seawalt. and Terry Banfill, right. James and Robert Gunsallus sit together after receiving their medals.
Commissioner Smeltz thanked the Clinton County Veteran's Affairs Office and Dave B\ower for making the event possible. One of the tasks of this local office is to work with the United States government to identify local veterans who have not received their medals and coordinates the procurement of medals and presentation ceremonies.
Presenting the medals was Flotilla Staff Officer for the United States Coast Guard, Terry Banfill. Banfill is a friend and neighbor of the three veterans who received their medals. The group assembled for the awards ceremony was tight knit and many were overcome by emotion in a sense of pride and love for the contributions these men made for their country.
Sergeant John Martin Sewalt received three awards: Expert Badge for the M-14, Sharp Shooter Badge for pistol Colt 45, and the National Defense Service Medal. Sergeant Sewalt was assigned to the Company A 9th Battalion Training Brigade and served in Nancy and Orleans, France.
Seaman First Class, Robert "Bobby" Hayes Gunsallus served the United States Navy from 1944 to 1946. He served in Hawaii as part of the Twentieth Naval Construction Regiment, "The Seabees." Bobby Gunsallus received The Victory Medal and the Asiatic Pacific Medal.
Master Sergeant James "Al" Allen Gunsallus was a member of the 87th Infantry in the 10th Mountain Division. He served in Northern Italy, where he was wounded before going on the Aleutian Islands. In presenting the six medals Mr. Gunsallus received, Staff Officer Banfill noted the Bronze Star is the third highest medal available to servicemen and women.
In addition to receiving the Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster, Al Gunsallus received: Asiatic Pacific Service Medal with one Bronze Star, Eastern Service Medal with two Bronze Stars, European African Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and the Purple Heart.
Members of the audience waited in line following the ceremony to shake hands and offer thanks to the veterans. There was barely a dry eye in the room, as beyond service to their country, these men clearly served their families and communities well.
In closing, John Sewalt acknowledged that he is, "glad we have the support for the troops retired and still serving. They deserve it."