PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The National Cemetery of the Alleghenies was dedicated in October 2000, 61 years after Pittsburgh Cpl. Richard Heyl was killed in World War II.
He was buried in Grafton, W.Va., the closest National Cemetery at the time.
His younger sister, Mary Prascak, says the family was eating Thanksgiving dinner when the telegram came.
“It’s hard to talk about it, even after all these years,” she says.
Family members joined Prascak at Little Sisters of the Poor nursing home, to celebrate a painting by her son, Johno, honoring an uncle he knew only from the portrait in his grandparents home.
“They didn’t talk about things,” Johno says. “That’s just the way it was. That’s the way it was. And I have cousins that are older than me, that nobody knew anything. It was just suppressed. That’s just the way it was.”
Johno says his uncle was an ambulance driver in England, taking orphans on a picnic.
“They were strafed by the Germans,” he said. “The bus rolled. And my uncle saved a child, and he died.”
Richard Conley was born two months after his uncle died.
“He was to be my godfather,” Conley says. “And my mother named me Richard, after her brother.”
“He gave his life to help others,” Mary Prascak says. “And that’s one of the best things you can do.”