Memorial Day Warrior Tribute 2022

By Post Commander Ron Cook Jr.

On Monday May 30, 2022, the Iroquois Post 1587 & Auxiliary along with the Seneca Nation, co-hosted a Memorial Day tribute in recognition to Warriors who paid the ultimate sacrifice at the Seneca Allegany Administration Building fallen warrior outdoor monument.

The tribute began with ringing the “Bells of Peace” by Iroquois Post 1587 Auxiliary member Julie Snow. Post Commander, Ron Cook Jr. (US Army Veteran) and master of ceremonies, introduced Al George (US Army Veteran) who gave the Thanksgiving Address along with an opening prayer by Post Chaplain Marvin Abrams (USMC Veteran). Post Commander Cook welcomed everyone and words of deep gratitude was given to support the observance of our fallen Warriors by Seneca Nation Treasurer Rickey L. Armstrong Sr. (US Air Force Veteran). Post Auxiliary member Julie Snow conducted a Roll Call of the fallen as Al George tolled the drum for each Warrior named.

The Seneca Nation Treasurer Rickey L. Armstrong Sr. along with Post Commander Ron Cook Jr. placed a wreath in solemn appreciation for the Warriors who paid the ultimate sacrifice followed by Post Auxiliary members Nadine Pierce and Sue Anne Gates with their wreath of gratitude. The customary 21-gun salute was executed by the Iroquois Post 1587 Honor Guard directed by Post Sgt@Arms Markey Jimerson (USMC Veteran) and TAPS played by Post Adjutant Annette Repicci (US Navy Veteran), which concluded the outdoor tribute.

The Warrior Tribute resumed indoors with a Flag Song by Al George and posting of the Colors by the Iroquois Post 1587 Color Guard Team. Patrice (Beck) Neyman of the Beaver Clan gave an excellent rendition of the Canadian and National Anthems, which transitioned into honoring this year’s fallen warriors Tech Sergeant Harold E. Rogers (US Army Air Corps WWII), PFC Leland Laye (US Army Paratrooper WWII), and Specialist Timothy P. Jones (US Army Vietnam War Veteran).

On behalf of fallen warrior Timothy P. Jones, a special eagle feather heirloom along with a Vietnam War Commemoration Certificate with label pin was presented to Jared Jones by Seneca Nation Tribal Councilor Tina Abrams. Closing remarks were presented by Post Commander Ron Cook Jr. and Al George sang a Veteran’s Song to close out the tribute as the Iroquois Post 1587 Color Guard Team retired the Colors.

In addition, Post member Jennifer Helie (US Air Force Veteran) from the Veteran One-Stop Center of WNY provided an informational resource table and made herself available to answer any Service Officer questions. A delicious lunch was catered and all remaining packaged meals were delivered by Post Commander Cook and Post Judge Advocate Bella Cook to local Veterans in Allegany and Steamburg.

This annual event gives the Seneca Nation an opportunity to pay tribute to our fallen Warriors and share brief biographies read by Post Judge Advocate Bella Cook (US Army Veteran), Post Treasurer Josette “Nini” Wheeler (US Air Force Veteran), and Post Commander Cook respectively for Tech Sergeant Harold E. Rogers, PFC Leland Laye, and Specialist Timothy P. Jones.

Tech-Sgt Harold E. Rogers joined the Army Air Force in May 1942 and would receive orders to be forward deployed with the 8th Army Air Force in England and assigned as a tail gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber aircraft, which was very effective during World War II as strategic bomber of German industrial targets. He would be accompanied by his dog “Mister” a half Chow and half Police dog mascot companion. After completing over 25 bombing missions with one emergency bailout in the North Sea, Tech-Sgt Rogers would return state-side and would be assigned to perform instructor duties.

Tech-Sgt Harold E. Rogers

By June 1944, Tech-Sgt Rogers received orders to return to Europe with the 15th Army Air Corps in Italy without his mascot companion “Mister.” He would be assigned to conduct combat operations with the 456th Bombardment Group, 744th Bombardment Squadron unofficially known as the “Steed’s Flying Colts” in support of wartime efforts against the Germans.

On July 2nd, 1944 after conducting a bombing mission over German-occupied Hungary, Tech-Sgt Rogers’ B-24 plane came under attack by several German Focke-Wulf FW190 (nicknamed: Wurger/Shrike-Bird – Butcherbird) fighter planes when his plane became critically disabled. After making an assessing of the aircraft’s condition, the uninjured crew members agreed to conduct an emergency bailout knowing that the aircraft would not make it back to home-base in Italy.

As agreed upon, the uninjured crew members executed bailout procedures and left the aircraft while uninjured Tech-Sgt Rogers without fear of own safety decided to stay back with his wounded crew members and a few moments after the emergency bailout the plane exploded in mid-air. Tech-Sgt Rogers would be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal for his heroic actions to remain in the disabled B-24 Liberator aircraft to care for the wounded crew members despite the dire combat situation. Tech-Sgt Rogers other awards and decorations include the Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Service Cross, and later posthumously awarded the Purple Heart medal by the President of the United States. Honoring Tech-Sergeant Harold E. Rogers killed in action July 02, 1944 who paid the Ultimate Sacrifice.

Private First Class (PFC) Leland Laye: Seneca from the Cattaraugus Territory served in the U.S. Army was born on July 4, 1918 in New York. His parents Percival and Glennie were also both born in New York. They were both Seneca form the Cattaraugus Territory. His father worked as a farmer. Leland had one older brother named Harlan. Their mother died in 1920. The two brothers were raised on their maternal grandfather’s farm, cared for by their mother’s sister. Their father remarried and had four more children. It appears he passed away in 1939. By 1940 Leland had completed one year of high school and was living with his grandfather while working as a laborer. His older brother Harlen was also still living at home after completing four years of high school.

Leland was drafted into the U.S. Army on March 07, 1942. After Basic Infantry Training, he volunteered for airborne training and became a U.S. paratrooper and was promoted to Private First Class. He received follow-on orders assigned to Company H, 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.

PFC Leland Lay

Leland deployed to North Africa and would make a combat airborne parachute jump into Sicily with the 505th Airborne Regiment on the night of July 10th, 1943, in support of wartime operations against the Germans in the European theater. He and Corporal Warren “Pappy” Lyons were assigned as a Bazooka “Tank Killer” Team were engaged in heavy fighting, which ensued throughout the night and into the next day where PFC Leland Laye along with CPL Lyons were killed in action when they moved ahead of their unit to engage a German Mark VI Tiger tank in heavy combat operations near Ponte Dirillo, Sicily. By the end of July 11, 1943, the paratroopers of the 3rd Battalion, 505th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division were able to push the German tank forces from the Biazza Ridge. A monument with Leland’s name along with 38 other paratroopers’ names still stands today in Ponte Dirillo, Sicily in recognition for the “Heroism and from the sacrifice of these men has created the new history of Europe.” Leland posthumously received the Silver Star for his heroic actions and his Citation reads…

“The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Private First Class Leland Laye (ASN: 32252291), United States Army, for gallantry in action while serving with Company H, 3d Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division, in action on 11 July 1943, five miles west of (Ponte Dirillo)*, Sicily. Private First Class Laye placed his rocket launcher in a position of vantage well in advance of his own forces. Although exposed to heavy enemy fire and regardless of the ineffectiveness of his own rocket fire, Private First Class Laye held his position and continued to operate his launcher against a Mark (VI Tiger I) ** **** tank until the tank, at a distance of fifty feet, fired its 88-mm main turret gun and killed him. His gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.”

Honoring our fallen Warrior PFC Leland Laye killed in action July 11, 1943 who paid the Ultimate Sacrifice.

Specialist Timothy Paul Jones born August 27, 1947, enrolled member of the Seneca Nation of Indians and of the Turtle Clan. Timothy grew up on the Allegany Territory and struggled with completing formal education but knew the importance and acknowledging his responsibility of becoming a productive member of his community. Timothy received a draft notification and was inducted on April 25, 1967 to join the U.S. Armed Forces in support of escalating War efforts in Southeast Asia in the Republic of Vietnam. Timothy reported to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Buffalo, NY and sent to Basic Training and received advanced Infantry Training.

Specialist Timothy Jones

Shortly after Infantry training, Timothy received orders to deploy to Southeast Asia and would be assigned to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division in support of the War efforts in the Republic of Vietnam. Timothy’s unit had a prestigious history and were nicknamed the “OLD RELIABLES” first established during WWII. However, the North Vietnamese enemy forces quickly viewed them as fearless warriors as they conducted numerous combat missions from the Mekong Delta to the DMZ bringing intense bloody fighting capabilities and decimated their foes at each major engagement. These engagements included numerous victories over Main Force Viet Cong and North Vietnamese units with a lethal rapid deployment Mobile Riverine Force and with an Airmobile (helicopter) Calvary capability.

Tim’s unit was prepared for a new kind of war, where U.S. helicopter gunships dominated the air transport corridors and used heavily armored assault boats with a multitude of diversified fire power platforms to pursue the enemy in remote ground and water hideaways. His mission was to assist the South Vietnamese military from the communist pacification effort who were trying to endorse the independence and sovereignty of the South Vietnamese government. Timothy would completed his draft service obligation and was honorably discharged on April 25, 1969 and returned home to the Allegany Territory.

Timothy’s awards and decorations are many and commendable to name a few:

Purple Heart; Warriors Medal of Valor; Combat Infantry Badge; National Defense Service Medal Vietnam War Service Medal; Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal w/60 device
Unit Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Medal; Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal
Timothy Jones was a dedicated member of American Legion Iroquois Post 1587 for 27-years. Honoring our fallen Warrior SPC Timothy P. Jones who past away unexpectedly at the age of 74 due to health related complications.

The Seneca Nation of Indians and Iroquois Post 1587 would like to thank everyone who volunteered to decorate Veteran graves with flags on both Territories and to everyone who join the Memorial Day Warrior Tribute in Allegany.

The Seneca Nation and Iroquois Post 1587 paid tribute and honored our fallen warriors for their dedicated service to our Nation and for their bold and fearless actions during time of War exemplifies them as admired Warriors and Hero’s. May our Warriors rest-in-peace.

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