Van Nest to honor veteran with monument recognition

The last battle for Peter Wiesneifski is finally over.

Van Nesters have successfully pulled together to get a deceased Vietnam War veteran’s name engraved on the Vietnam monument at Memorial Square. The name was added on Wednesday, November 3.

“All the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place. I’m on cloud nine that this is getting done,” said Joe Bombace, a Van Nest resident that worked to get the name added to the monument. “This is the results you get by sharing and teamwork”

Van Nesters will unveil the engraving in a dual ceremony on Veterans Day, November 11, that will also honor all fallen service men and women.

While some were prepared to dig deep to cover the cost of engraving the name into the monument, Crown Memorial offered their engraving services for free. Flowers by Wild Orchid, on Morris Park, will also donate a wreathe and presentation bouquet for the event as well.

“I am greatly appreciative to Crown Monuments who donated their time and skills to pay tribute to Peter Wiesneifski and his family,” said Senator Jeff Klein. “My office joined with community leaders in working to find a vendor to donate their services and I thank Crown Monuments and Richard Vitacco for doing so. I look forward to taking part in the dedication ceremony.”

Wiesneifski was a graduate of St. Dominic’s School before going to Vietnam where he was killed in 1970. Decades after his death, the names of local servicemen that fought and died in the war were engraved on the Memorial Monument, near Van Nest Playground.

The monument displays the names of local fallen soldiers from all the major U.S. wars of the 20th century, but it wasn’t until the summer of this year that alumni from St. Dominic’s school noticed that Wiesneifski’s name was missing from the list of 11 that died in Vietnam.

“It must have been an oversight,” said Vitacco, who is in charge of the upkeep of the monument.

At first the Parks Department said carvingthe name into the stone would cost around $1,500. After talks, the department agreed that $895 was a more accurate figure, however, that would still be a staggering amount to pay for the Van Nesters that remember Wiesneifski, who would be in his later 60s if he were alive today.

That’s when Norm Peduzzi, manager at Crown Monuments and Van Nest native, stepped up to the plate.

“I’m originally from the neighborhood, so when I saw this, I was like, ‘I know where that is’ and I knew we needed to reach out,” he said. “We’re glad we could help.”

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