Mahaffey bridge dedicated to Medal of Honor recipient
State Rep. Camille "Bud" George, D-74 of Houtzdale, brought a proclamation from the House of Representatives to present to Sylvia Brown Rich and spoke at the Pfc. Melvin L. Brown Day event in Mahaffey. He and Mahaffey Mayor Thomas Bell stand on what is now renamed as a memorial to Pfc. Brown. (Photo by Jane Elling)
Monday, June 23, 2008
By Jane Elling Staff Writer
MAHAFFEY - The community of Mahaffey on Saturday welcomed more than 100 people to the dedications of a monument and bridge, and while at Scout Community Park many others attended a ball tournament, listened to music, ate various kinds of food and shared in other activities.
At 11 a.m., everyone was welcomed by Candace Smith, chairperson of the Pfc. Melvin L. Brown Day Committee, which was formed to plan what is hoped to be an annual event on the third Saturday of June.
It was to honor Pfc. Brown who was born and grew up in Mahaffey before enlisting in the U.S. Army. He was the posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor for his service in the Korean War. President Harry Truman presented it to Pfc. Brown's parents, Edward D. Brown and Rhoda V. Jones Brown, who lived in the Ostend area of Mahaffey.
Through the efforts of state Rep. Camille "Bud" George, D-74 of Houtzdale, the bridge spanning the West Branch of the Susquehanna River was renamed the "Pfc. Melvin L. Brown Memorial Bridge" by the House of Representatives and the state Senate. Rep. George spoke at the event and also presented a proclamation from the House of Representatives in honor of Pfc. Brown to Sylvia Brown Rich, Pfc. Brown's sister. After the two bridge signs were uncovered by Mahaffey Mayor Thomas Bell, they were dedicated by Rep. George.
Also attending and speaking was John Sobel, Clearfield County commissioner and board president.
Mrs. Rich of Moline, Ill., attended the event with husband, Dr. Joseph K. Rich, and her brother, Curtis Brown of Mahaffey. Mrs. Rich and Mr. Brown uncovered the monument located in front of Community Volunteer Fire Co. hall while it was dedicated by Jane Elling, Brown Committee member.
Retired Marine Sgt. Maj. Morton S. Landy of Mahaffey was invited to speak about Pfc. Brown and his family and was brought to the event, along with Lt. Col. Karl Bopp, in a 1944 Willys NB Jeep by John Elling of Mahaffey.
Mr. Landy and Lt. Col. Bopp brought a flag with them that they then put up on the new pole in front of the firehall.
Lt. Col. Bopp talked about the trip by Mrs. Rich from Moline to a facility in Korea named for her brother. On Feb. 26, the U.S. Army Field Support Battalion, North East Asia, located at Camp Carroll in Waegwan, Republic of Korea, held a memorialization and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Pfc. Melvin L. Brown Maintenance Facility. It was constructed at a cost of $15 million.
Mrs. Rich was the main speaker. She also visited the area where Pfc. Brown died while standing on a wall defending a hill.
His bravery sparked his fellow soldiers, and the hill was successfully secured.
Lt. Col. Bopp was the commander of the site in Korea that has the new Maintenance Facility. He is a native of Pennsylvania.
Also attending was William Ellis, Army Sustainment Command engineer, who helped design and build the facility, and Robert E. Foster who works for the Army Prepositioned Stocks-Korea and is an Army Sustainment Command logistic management specialist.
Victoria H. Kim, who is a native of Cheltingham, Pa., and is a civilian working in Korea in Resource Management Division II had a 13-day home time and came to the event.
They were all presented with Mahaffey History books that were published during the Mahaffey Centennial year and dedicated to Pfc. Brown.
Other facilities named for Pfc. Brown, according to information gathered by Mrs. Rich, are the Army Reserve Center in Clearfield; the Chesquehanna Melvin L. Brown Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 8709 in Mahaffey; the Brown Barracks at Fort Belvoir, Va.; a Korean War Memorial Park at Fort Hood, Texas; Camp Brown in Korea; and Brown Football Field, Camp Schimmnelpfennig.
Carol Abromovich, Mahaffey postmaster, who also attended, arranged for a cancellation stamp to be available on Saturday.
The invocation and benediction were given the Rev. Douglas Turner, pastor of the Mahaffey Brethren Church.
Also participating were the Vietnam Veterans of America Post No. 947 of Clearfield and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3250 of Philipsburg who had a member play "Taps" to end the event.
Mahaffey Mayor Thomas Bell had closing remarks.