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Home News A hero’s salute

A hero’s salute

Jack O’Donnell, a Korean War veteran, gives an acceptance speech during the Delaware Valley Veterans Home Hall of Fame induction last week. MARIA S. YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

The Delaware Valley Veterans Home last week inducted two men into its Hall of Fame.

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The new inductees are Harold Fisher and Jack O’Donnell.

The second annual ceremony took place on Aug. 12 at the facility, at Southampton Road and Roosevelt Boulevard. State Rep. Tom Murt (R-152nd dist.) was among the guests.

Peter Ojeda, commandant of the home, and Jerry Beck, a retired brigadier general and the state’s deputy adjutant general for veterans affairs, presented Fisher and O’Donnell with certificates.

Beck described the honorees as “two great men.” He called Fisher the “grandfather” of the home and O’Donnell the “father” of the home.

O’Donnell’s son, Patrick, and Fisher’s son, Mitch, removed an American flag to reveal a plaque with the names of the new honorees.

Fisher, a Northeast High School graduate (class of 1942) who lives in Levittown, was a World War II U.S. Army combat engineer who served in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and Central Europe. He earned the Good Conduct, American Campaign, World War II Victory and European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign medals, in addition to four Bronze Stars.

Fisher, a married father of three who worked for Tastykake, worked with Raymond Feinberg in the early years to help promote the idea of a veterans home. Later, he was part of a group of so-called “four horsemen” — Vince Malatesta, Ed Comly and Joe Stivala were the others — that helped finalize plans to build the home.

Fisher credited former Govs. Bob Casey and Tom Ridge and former Sen. Arlen Specter with helping to secure the land and money.

“Here we sit in a beautiful state-of-the-art building,” he said.

Over the years, Fisher received awards for his service to the Philadelphia Veterans Comfort House and the veterans medical centers in Philadelphia and Coatesville.

“He’s always there for somebody. God bless Harold,” said Allan Abramson, president of the home’s advisory council.

O’Donnell, a Far Northeast resident, joined the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from North Catholic High School. He was later assigned to the 1st Marine Division in Korea. After leaving active duty, he spent 17 years in the Marine Reserve.

O’Donnell earned the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation-Foreign and the Marine Corps Good Conduct, Korean Service, National Defense Service and United Nations Service medals.

Since November 2003, O’Donnell has raised more than $300,000 for the home and coordinated the purchase of pictures, fountains, furniture, gazebos, tables and chairs on the home’s Main Street, along with other fixtures around the facility.

O’Donnell is a life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9198, American Legion Post 810, Marine Corps League and 1st Marine Division Association.

“This is a great honor,” O’Donnell said. “I really appreciate it.”

Due to his dedication to the canteen, the shop has been named Jack’s Place.

“Jack is the fixture we need to get things done,” Beck said. “He’s always working on something to make sure our veterans are taken care of.”

Last year’s honorees were Vince Malatesta, Michael Crescenz, John McVeigh and Edward Benfold. ••

Harold Fisher is congratulated during the induction ceremony. He was a World War II U.S. Army combat engineer who served in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and Central Europe. MARIA S. YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

The honorees: Audience members salute Harold Fisher and Jack O’Donnell during a Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Aug. 12. MARIA S. YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

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