Rain forced the annual Blue Star Mothers Memorial Day Service indoors last Thursday, May 23, but the relocation did not affect the solemnity of the event that pays tribute to the 62 local residents who gave their lives in service to their country.
The event, sponsored by the city of Grandview Heights, is traditionally held at Memorial Park, but this year moved to the Grandview Heights High School auditorium. The city's Memorial Day parade marched on as planned Saturday, May 25.
The May 23 ceremony included the reading of the honor roll of names by Grandview Heights High School senior class president Maddie Bolzenius. As she read each name, a member of Boy Scout Troop 73 placed a poppy on a cross in honor of that person.
Marble Cliff Mayor Kent Studebaker spoke about the history of the Blue Star Mothers and Grandview Mayor Ray DeGraw reviewed the history of the Memorial Day holiday.
DeGraw also provided information about five of the names on the roll of honor:
* Richard DeStafano was born May 30, 1924, and attended Central High School. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps for training as a gunner during World War II.
On Feb. 2, 1945, he was on his 13th mission as a tail gunner on an A-20 bomber flying out of Belgium when he was killed by a bomb explosion. The bomb had been planted by a saboteur.
DeStafano earned the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and was awarded the Purple Heart.
* Fred Riccardi was born Aug. 28, 1922; his family lived at 1316 Westwood Ave. He enlisted in the Army in October 1942 and was assigned to the 14th Armored Division.
Riccardi was a gunner in a four-man crew on an assault gun, which was a light armored vehicle. Early in January 1945, his unit was involved in heavy fighting in Althorn, France, near the German border.
The assault guns arrived ahead of the infantry and Riccardi and another soldier dismounted and attacked the enemy on foot while waiting for the infantry's arrival.
The next day, Jan. 10, 52 German soldiers surrendered when Riccardi pointed a gun at three houses.
As the gun crew turned a corner, they encountered a German Tiger tank and their vehicle was set on fire after being hit by two rounds. The driver exited and survived, but Riccardi exited on the other side and was killed by machine-gun fire. The other two men in the crew were unable to get out of the vehicle.
Riccardi was awarded the Silver Star.
* Wilfred Jackson was a courier for Army Military Intelligence during the Korean War.
Jackson was killed when the plane in which he was a passenger exploded during a flight from Korea to Japan. Sabotage was believed to have been the cause of the explosion.
* Paul Ballard was born Dec. 3, 1947. After graduating from Grandview High School in 1966, he enlisted the following year in the Army and was assigned to the First Air Cavalry.
After training, he was sent to Vietnam.
In a letter home, Ballard wrote that he might appear on a Bob Hope TV special. His family gathered to watch; it was the last time they ever saw him.
On Jan. 20, 1969, Ballard was killed on a night patrol. He received the Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Star, Air Medal, two Presidential Citations, National Defense Medal and the Purple Heart with clusters.
The flag that covered his casket was flown at the high school stadium and presented to the school.
* Robert Boggioni was born Aug. 13, 1927, in Columbus, His family moved to Grandview as he entered the ninth grade. He played football for two years at the high school and was captain during his senior year.
Boggioni enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1948. He was an F-104 jet fighter instructor in Panama City, Fla., until 1953 when he was sent to Misawa, Japan, as a flight instructor.
On Nov. 3, 1956, Boggioni was leading a routine night flight back to the air base when his plane crashed and he was killed.
An officer told the family the Japanese lit lanterns on the boats that lined a canal located just below the air base, and at night, the lights resembled a landing strip. Boggioni was the third pilot killed during a nighttime crash over the canal.
Grandview's memorial service also included bagpipes played by Jeff Linn; a memorial salute by the Columbus Division of Police Honor Guard, joined by Grandview police officers; and patriotic music performed by the Grandview Heights High School Band under the direction of Kie Watkins.
The service was dedicated in memory of Laura Titus, a Blue Star Mother who directed the event for many years. She died in 2010.