Fast Facts: How McKeesport Got to Vietnam & the LaRosa Legacy

 

  • The LaRosa Memorial at its 901 Ravine St McKeesport Boys & Girls Club site is one of our nation’s first, if not the first in the traditional sense, to honor Vietnam’s American war dead. This is verifiable through The Vietnam Veterans Association of America National Office. Confirmation was made by Walt Yager, LaRosa Club Alum and Board Officer, through actual site visits and research at 3 of the 4 locations claiming to be the first. (Sept. 2016)
  • The LaRosa Memorial was dedicated on Veterans Day November 11, 1966.
  • Unlike any of these other 3 initial sites the LaRosa site has remained intact and unchanged since inception and unlike the others has conducted 50 years of continued, consistent Veterans and Memorial day services. While the LaRosa site has remained unchanged, the other sites have made major changes to their memorials recently with costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars at each.
  • As a microcosm of the Vietnam era in the U.S., the McKeesport area best personifies the type of inner city, socio-economic middle-class racial mix that would provide those who were called to duty in Vietnam–those drafted would be in the 18-21 age group.
  • The 11 killed from the LaRosa club and the 13 others associated with the McKeesport area personify those who served in Vietnam.
  • Because of his patriotism to his country and loyalty to “His Boys” Sam LaRosa was not about to let any negative sentiments about Vietnam stand in his way in dedicating his memorial to those making the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
  • The 11 LaRosa Club members killed in Vietnam is the largest number from any one of the 1,100 National Boys & Girls Clubs. Presumably, on a pro-rated basis the largest number from any other type of fraternal organization.
  • Sean Yager’s 2004 Norwin High School senior community service program (thesis +70 photoslides) renamed “How McKeesport Got To Vietnam” encompasses all of the afore mentioned facts. It is the most complete and thorough documentation of any of the other 3 sites claiming to be first as Vietnam War Dead Memorials. Read an excerpt here.
  • Walt Yager, Sean’s father, is using this community service project to gain national recognition for McKeesport as a unique microcosm of the Vietnom Era.
  • Walt Yager’s program title: “Operation Sammy & Sean- Project 66” – is the best way to describe How McKeesport Got To Vietnam by honoring Sam LaRosa’s and Sean Yager’s dedicated efforts to honor the LaRosa 11 & McKeesport 13 who lost their lives in Vietnam.
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