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Sunday, 21 May 1967
Lt. Col. Raymond J. Simpson presents the Legion of Merit Award to Mrs. Mary E. McLaughlin, widow of Lt. Col. Robert L. McLaughlin.
Col. McLaughlin was honored posthumously for meritorious conduct as a commander of the 4th Battalion, 6th Artillery, 32nd Army Air Defense Command, Spangdahlen, Germany. Looking on are Col. McLaughlin's mother, Mrs. Agnes McLaughlin, and Spec. 5 Richard E. Lepter, who was awarded a certificate of achievement for outstanding performance of duty in the adjutant general's offfice, Military district of Washington, D. C. Spec. Lepter is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Lepter, 802 Chestnut Street. He is employed by Johnstown Plant, Bethlehem Steel Corp. Lt. Col. McLaughlin's mother, widow and 4 children live at 513 Somerset Street. Presentations were made Sunday at the Army Reserve Center, Goucher Street.
10 Jul 1967
Today is the 65th aniversary of the old Rolling Mill Mine disaster -- a reminder that the good old days were not always so good.
On July 10, 1902, an explosion snuffed out 112 lives in underground coal facilities of the Cambria Steel Co.
In terms of the number of men killed, the disaster was the worst in the annals of the bituminous industry in the Johnstown district. Other tragedies, listed in records of the U.S. Bureau of Mines dating back to 1839, include:
An explosion at Reilly No. 1 Mine, Spangler, on Nov. 22, 1922, that led to 77 deaths. The Sonman Mine explosion at Sonman, near Portage, which claimed 63 lives on July 15, 1940.
As the saying goes, time heals all wounds. But even time in its flight can not obliterate the memories of that black day 65 year ago.
On the contrary, stories of the disaster have become legend -- stories of daring-do rescures, unusual bravery and grief.
There are only a few survivors of the explosion living in the community today. But there are many descendants of the men who died in or lived through the big blast.
To all of them, the anniversary date has particular significance.
Opened in 1856, the Rolling Mill Mine supplied coal to the steel plant along the banks of the Conemaugh River. It had openings in the Westmont hillside and later in Millcreek Valley and elsewhere in the community.
Two hillside entrances will be sealed in connection with the Roosevelt Boulevard Extension. They will be visible to passing motorists when the new road is opened.
The portals are symbolic of an era of Johnstown's industrial growth -- an era when tragedy and violence and disasters are so frequent they almost became a way of life.
-- By William Black, Tribune-Democrat Staff Writer --