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Story of World War II veteran brothers told through exhibit

The American flag (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Dennis Cantrell)

An unexpected find in an attic has led to a patriotic showcase.

“A Family in Service — The Mindala Story” exhibition is on display through Nov. 14 at Gallery on Gazebo, 140 Gazebo Place, downtown Johnstown.

The exhibit came about after U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Chad McLaren found a chest filled with Navy memorabilia in his recently purchased home in the Morrellville section of Johnstown.

Rosemary Pawlowski, director of the gallery, said after tracking down Mindala family members to tell them of the discovery, McLaren offered to have the artifacts displayed at the gallery as recognition for Veterans Day.

“The exhibit itself features photos, uniforms, newspaper articles, medals and memorabilia of three brothers from the Mindala family — Michael, Stephen and Joseph Jr. — who all served in Word War II,” she said.

“Their sister was the historian who, thankfully, saved the items the brothers sent home.”

Beyond what was in the chest, relatives supplied a photo of the three Johnstown brothers together to serve as the centerpiece of the display.

“It was in the grandmother’s house and it’s very special,” Pawlowski said.

“We took the uniforms and had them cleaned and we’ve presented them really nicely. I think it makes for a handsome exhibit and people have been fascinated by it.”

She said the display allows people to pause and reflect.

“To know there was a family of three brothers who all wanted to serve their country is really commendable,” Pawlowski said. “It reflects values and love of country and service.”

As part of the exhibit, Ret. Col. Doug Lengenfelder will lead a discussion with Vietnam veteran Seaman Tom Vargo at 5 p.m. Thursday at the gallery.

Vargo was onboard the USS Frank E. Evans on June 3, 1969, when it was overrun by an Australian carrier in the waters near Vietnam. Seventy-four sailors lost their lives.

“Tom had a pretty harrowing experience that Doug will share,” Pawlowski said.

Refreshments will be served.

There is no fee to attend, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, reservations are requested.

Those attending can register to a win a basket of Navy items.

“What can be seen and heard at Gallery on Gazebo is just a part of the story and we look forward to hearing other stories from veterans or families of veterans,” Pawlowski said.

Sponsor for the exhibit and program is Veterans Community Initiative Inc.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Saturday, the gallery will be open from noon to 3 p.m.

For additional information, call 814-539-4345 or visit


(c)2020 The Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, Pa.)

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