Loweranitis Medals Have Permanent Home

May 26, 2012 at 11:09 AM


DuBois Area Historical Society President Ruth Gregori (right) accepts the Cpl. John “Jack” Loweranitis medals from Peggie Schreiber. Master of ceremony Joe Woods is at left.


         The medals earned through the heroic acts of Cpl. John “Jack” Loweranitis, the first Vietnam War casualty from DuBois, now have a permanent home.

           During a pre-Memorial Day ceremony on May 25 at the DuBois VFW, members of the Loweranitis family presented Jack’s medals to the DuBois Area Historical Society where they will be housed in the Veteran’s Room of the Society’s Museum. Peggie Schreiber presented the medals to DuBois Area Historical Society President Ruth Gregori.

            “We are pleased to have Jack’s medals become a part of the DuBois Area Historical Society’s collection,” said Gregori. “They will be placed in a prominent position in the military room of the museum, where they may be seen by future generations and serve as an example of true heroism in combat.”


Todd Thompson

            Todd Thompson, DuBois Area Historical Society historian, was the keynote speaker for the ceremony. Thompson outlined Jack Loweranitis’ military career.

            Jack was born on Dec. 28, 1944, in DuBois to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph R. Loweranitis and went on to graduate from DuBois High School. He joined the U. S. Marines and served in the Vietnam War serving in Company I, Third Battalion, Ninth Marine, Third Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force. He died in combat at Getlin’s Corner on March 3, 1967, but not before saving many of his fellow Marines.     

            Loweranitis’ selfless actions led to the posthumous awarding of the Navy Cross, the second highest award presented for valor in combat. On March 3, 1967, his unit came under attack by a North Vietnamese reinforced company. Loweranitis moved through intense fire to a mortar position where he reorganized the crew and provided effective fire on the enemy positions. When the ammunition ran out he again moved through heavy fire moving from position to position evacuating the wounded. Stopping at a threatened point he personally accounted for five enemy kills. Although wounded on two separate occasions he refused to leave his position. He was mortally wounded, but his actions helped to save many Marines and account for numerous enemy casualties.

            The February 2009 “Leatherneck” magazine article “The ‘Flaming’ at Getlin’s Corner” described the battle in this way:

            “When the firing started, Loweranitis had fought his way through the mortar and machine-gun fire, grabbing wounded Marines on the hill’s slope and dragging them to safety. As the NVA assaulted, he calmly aimed his rifle and shot five dead . . . everyone wanted him around when things got hot.”

            Loweranitis’ actions on September 3, 1966, led to the posthumous awarding of the Silver Star, the third highest military award designated solely for heroism in combat. On that date, Loweranitis’ unit was on a search and destroy mission traveling in ontos, light armored tracked anti-tank vehicles. After his mortar team had expended its ammunition, Loweranitis boarded an ontos under heavy fire and backed it out of the only landing zone  for medical evacuation. He then crossed open ground to the remaining ontos, took command and moved it forward driving the enemy back allowing evacuation of wounded and advancement by the rest of his team.

            Loweranitis’ name will also live on through the barracks named in his honor at Camp Geiger. The Sandy Township Supervisors have also named a pavilion at Spider Lake in his honor.