The Kessler family was well-represented when Pvt. Patrick L. Kessler Memorial Way was dedicated Friday morning along part of Reinartz Boulevard in Middletown.
Five nephews attended the unveiling of the street sign, and while they said the recognition was “long overdue,” they were thankful Middletown City Council decided to recognize Kessler, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously on Jan. 4, 1945 for his heroic actions during World War II.
Kessler’s sister, Gladys Karacia, 85, died this summer, and her sons said they wished she could have lived to see the street dedication.
“She really wanted this,” said Tim Karacia, one of her nine children. “She was so proud of her brother.”
This year, City Council unanimously approved the permanent designation of the memorial on Reinartz Boulevard between Charles and Clark streets. Initially, the designation was to be for two years in accordance with the new city policy on honorary designations of buildings, parks and streets. However, council agreed it should be a permanent designation.
“We are so grateful for it,” Karacia said.
His brother, Robert, who also attended the unveiling, said his uncle “did quite a bit to earn this. He was a hero. Like a lot of heroes, he didn’t want all the credit. He was just saving his buddies.”
Kessler was a member of Company K, 30th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division when he distinguished himself “by gallantly and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty” during the Battle of Anzio in Italy on May 23, 1944 during World War II.
Kessler, 22, was killed in action two days later on May 25, 1944 near Ponte Rotto, Italy. He is buried among the 167 white crosses in the World War II section at Woodside Cemetery and Arboretum. The armory on South Main Street is named in his honor.
State Sen. Bill Coley, R-Liberty Twp., said after reading Kessler’s story, “You say, ‘He had to be an angel or angels were around him.’”
Coley said he has talked to several Medal of Honor recipients and they all feel the same way.
“They wear the medal for all whose who didn’t make it,” he said.
One of those who spearheaded the project was Debra Morrison.
“It’s been a long time coming,” she said. “It should have been done years ago, but I’m glad they got it done. Veterans need to be recognized.”
Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan read a proclamation that called the ceremony a “memorable occasion” and that “Middletown is proud” to recognize Kessler.
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