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M AI NLI NE newspapers
Remains of missing WWII sailor from Portage may have been located Vol. 114 No. 19
By Ron Portash
of Mainline Newspapers
One of many missing World War II servicemen may have been located after 72 years. The remains of a TBM Avenger torpedo bomber have been found near an island in the Pacific Ocean. Officials from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) contacted the family of former Portage resident Walter E. “Bert” Mintus in December 2017. On July 27, 1944, an Avenger containing a crew of three, including Mintus, disappeared after a bombing attack in the Palau archipelago. Several years ago, Lisa Fedorka, of Texas, was researching her family tree on a genealogy website and flagged
a connection to Walter Mintus. In 2017, DPAA contacted Fedorka and her husband, Paul, to see if she was related to Mintus. DPAA also asked for a second relative because they needed several DNA samples to help identify one of the human remains found in the wreckage of a TBM located merely 300 yards from the mangrove jungles of Aimeliik in the Republic of Palau. Although Chuck Prichard, director of public information at DPAA, could not confirm that the human remains found were Mintus, pilot Richard Houle and an unnamed turret gunner, research papers and new articles published in 2014 and 2015 indicate a TBM Avenger and F6F Hellcat fighter were located within days of
Thursday, May 10, 2018
each other in Palau. Mintus’ nephew, Richard Kozak, of Conway Pa., who provided the second required DNA sample, stated that the disappearance of his uncle has haunted the family, especially Walter’s stepsister Caroline, until the day she died. As a young man growing up on Jamestown Road in the Sonman section of Portage Township, 1940 census records show Walter Mintus was 18 years old, working as a coal miner and living with his parents, John and Caroline, along with his brothers, Thomas and Leonard. Like many young, patriotic men of the time, Walter Mintus entered the Navy to serve his country after the SEE SAILOR, PAGE 3A
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Chelsea Primel and James Mangus dressed to the nines as they head to the Forest HIlls Prom at the Pasquerilla Center in Johnstown May 5. Photo by Ron Portash.
Forest Hills students Shelby Hostetler (from left), Alyssa Madison and Caitlin Glass were winners of the 2018 American Legion Auxiliary Americanism Essay Contest, sponsored by South Fork Legion Auxiliary Unit #635. The students had to write a 450-500 word essay on the topic “What can I do to Promote Americanism in my School and Community?” Hostetler won first place, Madison earned second place and Glass received third place for their essays. Hostetler also placed second overall in the county competition. Submitted photo.
Portage Boro, Station Museum resolve paving issues over bricks
By Ron Portash
of Mainline Newspapers
The Portage Borough council meeting held May 7 began with council president Sharon McCarthy requesting break from the agenda and address public comments first. McCarthy opened by saying the matter concerning the proposed paving of Lee Street got “blown out of control.” McCarthy explained that “no one approached council before tak-
ing to Facebook. Council knew nothing about this.” McCarthy said that she “wanted to make it perfectly clear that the water authority had nothing to do with what was going on.” The Portage Sewer Authority was digging in the upper portion of Lee Street near North Railroad Avenue to put in a sewer line extension to enable several buildings in the neighborhood to rectify improper connections. Employees of the water authority were assisting in the work with manpower and equipment. There were a number of comments posted on social media against the water authority, even though they had nothing to do with the work other than assisting the sewer authority. Irene Haschak of the Portage
Historical Society then spoke to council. “Visitors come from all over the world and most comment on the brick in front of the museum,” Haschak said. “I was not trying to start a controversy, but I was told by several organizations that the borough was paving Lee Street.” Borough manager Bob Koban replied to Haschak’s concern “I see you constantly, but you never contacted me. The only way I find out about this was through hearsay,” said Koban, referring to the numerous Facebook posts about the alleged paving over the bricks. “They judged, juried and convicted us before any of this happened.” SEE BRICK, PAGE 7A
Lance Everhart, Cali Thomas and Isabelle Allison are ready to head to the Pasquerilla Center for the Forest Hills Prom May 5. Photo by Ron Portash.
Jeremy Koenig and Anna Golden are all smiles before the start of the Grand March at the high school before the Bishop Carroll Prom May 5. Photo by Ron Portash.