Veterans Voices: Janice’s Mission

Veterans Voices

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Janice Gavern, a retired Air Force Veteran retired is on a mission. A rather daunting task to record the 248 World War I veterans from Scranton who died serving our nation. This includes finding pictures of them all. In addition, she wants to get information on all women veterans who considered Pennsylvania home.

“I want to make sure that all of my comrades in Pennsylvania are remembered and honored for their service. When I do a tea over at Geno Merli Veterans Center to specifically honor the elderly women veterans over there, I do that so that I can salute them individually and thank them for their service because nobody did,” said Janice Gavern, Historian and member of American Legion Post 154 in Montrose.

It was much different after the conclusion of World War I, when in June of 1919 all of Lackawanna County participated in a parade, honoring 3,000 surviving veterans. In May 1920, this memorial was placed in this field of trees at Nay Aug Park to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in ‘The Great War.’

“I was determined that I was going to find this memorial that had women veterans listed. The five nurses that are listed on this, four of them died of Spanish influenza. And once again, a very short period after they got to France. Their nurses, they contracted it, and they were gone,” said Gavern.

“And what I want to do is make sure the individuals are remembered”, Janice stressed.

“248. Six women, 242 men and I am going to make sure that they are remembered.”

Janice goes on to say “Ok, that’s one little thing. I want to grow this up across my platform which is the whole department of Pennsylvania American Legion in the state of Pennsylvania. I am working on an effort.”

To recognize and honor every woman veteran in the state of Pennsylvania.

“They are part of the reason that I had this amazing 26-year experience with the Air Force. It is going to take me at least this year. To do some background research. To find people who will send me information about these people. Because what I’d really like to do is make sure we had a picture of them.”

“This is a continuation of my service in the Air Force and the Air Force Reserve,” said Gavern.

Janice’s hope is to gather all the information on the World War I deaths from Scranton, 248 total, including six women, and pass the photos and bios on to the new National World War I memorial in Washington D.C.

Gavern is working on a number of projects honoring fallen veterans. You can contact her at  pa.womenveterans@gmail.com.

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