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Honoring the Father Judge 27

The family of Michael Vitale
Dennis Kilderry next to a banner of his uncle, Michael Kilderry
Luke Jardel, Leilani Dinh

Father Judge High School on Memorial Day hosted a service that honored the 27 graduates who died in the Vietnam War, while also recognizing the graduates of North Catholic – a fellow Oblates of St. Francis de Sales school that closed in 2010 – who died in the war.

The event featured the Star-Spangled Banner, the Pledge of Allegiance, an honor guard salute and a reading of the presidential Memorial Day Proclamation.

Brother Jim Williams offered prayer.

North Catholic graduates Bob Kensil and Jack Devine recognized the young men from their alma mater who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Williams, Dennis Kilderry and Christian Huff read the names of the Judge 27.

The crowd was invited inside to view the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial mobile wall and new banners for all 27 graduates killed in Vietnam.

The banners will be placed on light poles at Ramp Playground, across the street from the school.

Larry Vitale, whose brother Michael died in the war, was the project manager for the banners.

Bill Minich (class of 1981) funded the banners.

There is also a banner with the number 27, emblems of the branches of service and the words, “Our Fallen Crusaders. Lest We Forget. Vietnam.”

Lawn flag-sized banners will be available at Lloyd Sixsmith Sporting Goods, 7554 Frankford Ave., sometime in July.

Cardinal Dougherty, which closed in 2010, also lost 27 graduates in Vietnam.

Its memorial is at Michael J. Crescenz Medal of Honor Rising Sun VFW Post 2819, 6850 Martins Mill Road, which also hosted a Memorial Day ceremony.

Joe Crescenz represented his brother, a Dougherty graduate who was the only Philadelphian to earn the Medal of Honor for his heroics in Vietnam.

Leilani Dinh, a 7-year-old student at Commonwealth Charter Academy who was wearing fatigues, got things underway with a rousing rendition of God Bless America.

The event also included the Pledge of Allegiance and a performance of the national anthem by Luke Jardel and Michael Molloy.

The guest speaker was Chris Kunkel, a Marine Corps veteran, author and host of the Project Chaos podcast.

The lawn was covered with hundreds of crosses and American flags in memory of Post 2819 members who have died. ••

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