CHICOPEE Stan Stec, 90, and Frank Jazab, 93, are part of a disappearing breed: veterans of the Second World War.
Both men were among a group of nine veterans from WWII, the Korean and Vietnam Wars participating in a Pearl Harbor memorial ceremony at the Saint Patrick's School on Friday.
The school is located close to the city's memorial honoring Joseph Gosselin, a Chicopee native who died during the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941.
The fifth and sixth graders at the school read essays on the attack during the annual assembly conducted in the school's gymnasium. Along the walls of the room were posters created by the students about the attack.
In years past, the veterans would lay a wreath at the memorial, but the frigid air and the icy sidewalks prevented that part of the ceremony this year.
Stec said that in his unit of the Yankee Division were 33 young men from Chicopee. All but 4 survived the war. Stec himself was wounded and spent a lengthy time recuperating, while Jazab participated in the Battle of the Bulge, the last attempt of the German Army to stem the advance of the Allies.
"We chased them all the way back to Czechoslovakia," Jazab said.
Stec said his unit still conducts annual reunions, which at one time attracted 200 to 300 veterans with their spouses. Now, 80 vets have attended more recent ones.
Del Barabani, well known for his work in veteran affairs in the city, said that 166 Chicopee residents lost their lives serving their country during WWII. He said the facts of the conflict are being taken out of today's classrooms and urged that more schools do what St. Patrick's has done: take an event from history and study it.
That effort would "remind us what we should be doing: having world of peace," Barabani added.