MOUNT CARMEL - On Sunday, June 22, the Mount Carmel Area Joint Veterans Committee raised its 455th flag in honor and memory of a veteran of the Vietnam War.

John Leonard Polites was born at Shamokin Hospital, Coal Township, Jan. 4, 1945, a son of Joseph and Julia (Fedorchik) Polites.

He was a 1963 graduate of Mount Carmel Catholic High School.

Polites entered the U.S. Army June 10, 1963, at Wilkes-Barre, and was honorably discharged as a specialist 4 May 17, 1966, at Fort Dix, N.J. He received training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. Polites received the following medals: Vietnam Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. Total service to his country was 2 years, 11 months, 8 days in which foreign service was 1 year, 12 days.

On July 8, 1971, in Saint Joseph Church, Locust Gap, he married the former Mary Frances Doyle, who survives.

Polites was employed at General Motors, working in quality control. He was a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Knights of Columbus Bishop Lawrence F. Schott Council 628 and Assembly 959, all of Mount Carmel, and American Legion Post 608, Wilburton.

Polites died Jan. 20, 2014, and is buried in All Saints Cemetery, Bear Gap. In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, a brother and a sister.

The flag that was flown for the past month was in honor and memory of John. R. Scott, who served in the Pennsylvania Calvary during the Civil War. Taps was sounded on the bugle by Lance Nelson as the flag was lowered by William Begis. The flag was folded by Walter Summers and Begis and was presented to Andrew Lukoskie, a member of James A. Garfield Camp No. 34, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

The Polites flag was escorted to the ceremony by Connie Andrews and was presented by Polites' wife, Mary Frances, to Summers. The flag was raised by Begis as the national anthem was played. David Berezovske read the military records of both veterans. Summers led everyone in the singing of "God Bless America" and the ceremony ended with a silent salute to all veterans. Summers thanked the families and those in attendance for their participation.

James Kealy provided traffic control. Also participating in the ceremony were Leon Polites. The Susquehanna Bank was thanked for displaying Polites' name on its message board.

The next flag ceremony will be at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 20, at Second and Oak streets when the flag will be raised in honor and memory of Leonard John Bourinski, who served in Korea with the U.S. Marine Corps. Area veterans and the public are invited to attend.

David Berezovske