Shelby Township unveils revamped Military Wall of Honor

Plaque commemorates active-duty township natives

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 26, 2017

 Shelby Township resident Steve Aboona, right, points at his daughter Reeva Jabou’s name with his son, Alberto Aboona, 13, during the unveiling ceremony for the new Military Wall of Honor at the Shelby Township municipal building May 22. Jabou currently is stationed in Japan.

Shelby Township resident Steve Aboona, right, points at his daughter Reeva Jabou’s name with his son, Alberto Aboona, 13, during the unveiling ceremony for the new Military Wall of Honor at the Shelby Township municipal building May 22. Jabou currently is stationed in Japan.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — On May 22, Shelby Township officials drew away the service flag that had been covering a rectangular plaque in the township municipal building’s lobby to unveil the new Military Wall of Honor.

Shelby Township Veteran Events Coordinator Phil Randazzo and Deputy Clerk Brian Fairbrother worked together to execute the project, which displays the names of active-duty members of the military who call Shelby Township home.

Family members of active-duty troops, veterans and other residents gathered in the municipal building lobby to witness the unveiling ceremony. The plaque honors men and women serving both stateside and as far away as Alaska and Japan.

Fairbrother said a Shelby Township resident who does not wish to be identified donated the funds to make the enhanced Wall of Honor a reality. The new, elegant wooden plaque was crafted by MPC Awards; the old tribute included construction paper and mismatched frames.

“(The troops) look out for us, protect our country, protect our freedom, and there’s no greater honor,” Shelby Township Clerk Stan Grot said. “This is our thank-you to the men and women who serve this country. This is why we can be free and live our daily lives, because they put their lives on the line for us.”

Fairbrother said he thinks the new Wall of Honor turned out great, but that getting members of the military to sign up for the initiative was a lot more difficult than he anticipated.

“Members of the military don’t want the limelight — they really don’t,” he said. “Luckily, their families are very interested in getting credit and are very proud of their service in the military, as they should be.”

Shelby Township resident Karen Socia helped advocate for the initiative by spreading the word among other military parents. Her 22-year-old son, Scott Socia, currently serves at a U.S. Air Force base in Florida.

“It’s kind of cool to think when someone walks in the door, if they’re waiting, they can look at the names,” she said.

Maj. Jeffery Sierpien, commander of the Detroit Military Entrance Processing Station in Troy, attended the unveiling ceremony with his family. He serves in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed seven times — including four tours in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It’s a lot of class. It’s nice. It’s something that people will walk in and see that,” Sierpien said. “It makes me personally feel good. It wasn’t something that I solicited. … I’m not a glory hound.”

He said he was approached about the plaque while he was absentee voting at the township municipal building.

“It was a great turnout. The residents of Shelby Township turned out, and then also the veterans came, outside veterans from Vietnam,” Randazzo said. “I’m thankful personally to the residents. I know how it feels to come home and … we never had none of this.”

Shelby Township Trustee Doug Wozniak saluted Randazzo’s tireless efforts to help out and commemorate veterans. Randazzo served as a reconnaissance specialist with the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War from 1967 to 1969.

For more information, call the Clerk’s Office at (586) 731-5102.

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