James Flannery ’69 and Robert Young ’67, who were killed while serving in the Vietnam War, were honored with the dedication of portraits and a bench on April 21, 2012, in an event organized by fellow alumni and attended by family members and about 100 guests.
Carl Amenhauser ’67 and tribute portrait of James Flannery ’69
During a campus Admissions tour with friends, Carl Amenhauser ’67 was looking at the portraits of student-athletes in the Kovalchick Complex when he found himself recalling the heroism of two classmates, James Flannery ’69 and Robert Young ’67, both killed while serving in the Vietnam War.
Although the two men are recognized on campus with plaques at Pierce Hall and the Peace Tree, Amenhauser “got the idea that something needed to be done to bring these guys to life—not just a name, but their portraits and their stories.”
Tribute portrait of Robert Young ’67
Flannery, a Pittsburgh native, was sent to Vietnam in 1970. A platoon leader, he is credited with breaking an ambush on April 16, 1970. He died in the attack and was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his courage and heroism.
Young, from Saltsburg, was in a military helicopter when it was shot down on May 2, 1970. He survived the crash, but was captured and died while a prisoner in Cambodia on September 17, 1972.
Amenhauser found a fellow project volunteer in Robert Clark ’69, an artist living in Rochester, N.Y. Clark had been Flannery’s “little” brother in Theta Chi.
During their research, Amenhauser and Clark contacted veteran Pat Forester, from whom they learned that both Flannery and Young had belonged to the 2nd Battalion, the one Forester also belonged to.
Young was a captain in Company HQ, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor in the 25th Infantry Division. Flannery was a first lieutenant in Company C, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor, Fighting Aces.
Clark created two portraits to be hung in Pierce Hall, the home of the IUP ROTC. The project grew to also include the placement of a new bench near the Peace Tree and and a new, larger monument, made from a piece of Pennsylvania sandstone, to recognize both men.
Both portraits were unveiled during the event. Young’s portrait will be mounted at a later date; Flannery’s portrait was hung during the event.
Twelve members of the Flannery family attended, including Flannery’s twin brothers, Jeff and Joe, also IUP graduates.
Young’s widow, Sharon (Young) Nelmes ’70, and their daughter, Heather, whom Young never met, attended. A photo of Heather is part of Young’s memorial portrait.
Forester, who lives in California, traveled to IUP for the ceremony, along with two other platoon leaders who also served with Flannery and Young: Don Reeves of Kansas and Richard Symonds of South Carolina. Several members of Theta Chi also attended.
“We’ve accomplished something that needed to be done,” Amenhauser said. “Now, everyone coming into Pierce Hall will see who these men were and be able to read their stories. They won’t be just names on a plaque, but real people—heroes.”
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