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Weathersfield Trustee Rich Harkins, right, presents a proclamation to Cheryl Johnston Pallante of Austintown and other relatives of Dennis Neil Johnston, a McDonald’s native who was honored Sunday at Memorial Day services at McDonald’s. Johnston had a section of McDonald Avenue, which runs through both McDonald and Weathersfield, dedicated to “Dennis Neil Johnston Memorial Boulevard”. Staff Photo/Bob Coupland

McDONALD — Officials from McDonald’s and Weathersfield gathered Sunday to remember a United States Navy veteran who gave his life serving his country during the Vietnam War.

The village’s first Memorial Day service on Sunday at the Woodland Park war memorial included the official dedication of a section of McDonald Avenue that runs through both communities as “Dennis Neil Johnston Memorial Boulevard.”

Raymond Bishop de Niles, who grew up in McDonald’s and knew Johnston as a child before he left for Vietnam, spearheaded the idea of ​​having the road named in his memory.

“Every Memorial Day and Veterans Day I go to Niles Cemetery and always visit his grave, Bishop said.

Bishop said he was visiting Johnston’s grave in Niles City Cemetery when he met Cheryl Johnston Pallante of Austintown, a sister of Johnston’s, and told her he wanted to do something for people to remember. of Johnston and his service to the country.

“I met with American veterans with disabilities in Warren and they funded the signage program. We brought the idea to Weathersfield and the village, and that’s why we’re here today,” Bishop said.

Two signs were posted on Sunday at either end of the section of McDonald Avenue between Ohltown McDonald Road at West Second Street south to Watson Marshall Road.

Bishop said the next generation of villagers will now know who Dennis Johnston was and what he did for his country.

“It’s humbling. I’m so honored to be his sister. I knew how many people loved him and what a great guy he was,” Pallante said, indicating that it’s important to remember all the men and women who gave their lives for freedom.

Johnston, who served as a hospital corpsman in the Navy, was killed in action on April 16, 1968. He graduated from McDonald High School in 1966.

Pallante was Johnston’s younger sister and said walking along McDonald Avenue brought back memories of the siblings walking to school and home on Owsley Road.

“It’s so important that we don’t let his sacrifice be forgotten, or the sacrifice of a veteran,” Bishop said.

He said many of the young men serving in the war were young and had just graduated from high school.

“They believed death was far away for them. Vietnam quickly taught them otherwise. The inevitability of death was forced upon them,” Bishop said.

Bishop said Johnston wanted to train as an X-ray technician to help people.

Village and township proclamations and an American flag from U.S. Representative Tim Ryan, D-Howland, were presented to Johnston’s loved ones.

During the memorial service, flags were placed at the war memorial to remember veterans who lost their lives in the service of their country.

Retired pastor James Walker said Memorial Day is a time to come together and show respect for those killed.

“We honor those who gave the full measure of their lives so that today we have the freedoms that are too easily taken for granted,” he said.

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