2 New Kensington grads, Class of ’64, honored by classmates for Vietnam service
When New Kensington High School graduates Bob Hase and Jon Corey open their mail in the coming weeks, they likely will be surprised to see well-wishes from their old classmates, praising them for their heroic acts during the Vietnam War and for being inducted into the Hall of Valor at The Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Pittsburgh.
“It warms my heart,” said Pat Litz, 72, of Allegheny Township. “I hope it does theirs.”
Hase, who lives in Germany, and Corey, who lives in Anthem, Ariz., both graduated from New Kensington High School in 1964 and served in the Army during the war.
Hase was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for guiding a helicopter through hazardous obstacles more than once to rescue wounded personnel and earned two others. Corey received a Silver Star for taking down enemy soldiers and weapons to rescue wounded men while under heavy fire. He also prevented an ambush. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, too.
Fellow classmate Bill Thomey, who is Corey’s cousin and Hase’s friend, found out about the distinctions through chance, when he ran into Hase’s sister at the store.
He said he wasn’t surprised to hear about the honors and wanted to do something to make sure the men were recognized for them by pointing them out to the community and the Tribune-Review. He attended the Hall of Valor induction ceremony in March.
“I thought since they were local guys, it would be a good story for the people in this area to know that they have two people that distinguished themselves so heroically,” he said.
Some members of the 1964 graduating class meet for lunch once every two months, and the organizer of those lunches, Christine Cimino-Schubert, came up with the idea to send the men the newspaper article as well as cards.
“I probably would have sent something to both guys, but thought how much better it would be if all the ‘kids’ wrote down their feelings or just signed their names,” said Cimino-Schubert, 72, of Lower Burrell. “I am actually having everyone sign on blank pieces of paper, which I will insert into the cards.”
Eighteen people came to the most recent get-together, held Wednesday at the Rey Azteca restaurant in New Kensington.
The men know about the newspaper article, but the cards are a surprise. Cimino-Schubert and Thomey have been working on the plan since June.
“I think it’s great,” Thomey said.
Some people in the group have remained friends since graduation, but Cimino-Schubert hadn’t talked to Hase or Corey since then. She reached out to Soldiers and Sailors to get their contact information, and both men were shocked to hear from her.
“We emailed back and forth a few times; it was great since that was the first contact I had had from them since 1964,” Cimino-Schubert said. “I really didn’t know Bob Hase at all, since our class was so large. But Jon Corey was in my homeroom all three years.”
Litz, also a 1964 graduate, said she’s pleased the men are being honored. She didn’t know them well, but would say hi.
“I can’t say I’m surprised because they were good students and nice kids,” she said. “They deserve everything they’re getting.”
Corey, 71, said it’s a big honor to be inducted into the Hall, and everything that went along with it was gratifying.
“I generally like to keep a low profile, but in this particular case if it will help bring back memories for other people, my classmates, that’s great,” Corey said. “I enjoy being able to be a part of that.”