By Holly Zachariah, The Columbus Dispatch
Twenty military veterans were inducted Wednesday into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in recognition of their community service after the end of their military life. The honorees included Sunday School teachers, hospice volunteers, park volunteers and youth mentors. Those 90 and older also got standing ovations from those in attendance.
Even as Michael Pohorilla pushed his walker toward center stage so that an airman could drape yet another medal around his neck, there was a smattering of applause in the crowd before him.
But when the master of ceremonies at the annual induction ceremony for the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame announced that Pohorilla was 95 years old, well, the crowd simply roared.
Then everyone took to their feet.
“I was floored,” Pohorilla, of New Albany, said of his standing ovation. “I’m pretty humbled about it if you want to know the truth. There’s so many others who deserve the honor.”
Pohorilla, an Army veteran and pilot who flew 35 missions in World War II, was one of 20 veterans inducted into the hall of fame’s class of 2019 during a ceremony Wednesday at Radiant Life Church in Dublin. This ceremony, however, isn’t about any military heroics. The enshrinement — and the medals and plaques that go along with it — recognize good works done after the veterans retire their uniforms.
The honorees included Sunday School teachers, hospice volunteers, park volunteers (including Army veteran Bertalan Szabo, of Summit County, who at 98 also got a standing ovation) and youth mentors. Also included were Army veteran Donald Tedrick of Guernsey County, 96, who received the third standing ovation and was recognized for volunteering with the State Highway Patrol Auxiliary for more than 40 years until he was forced to retire at age 70; an Air Force veteran who was the first woman in Ohio to be named executive director of a county Veterans Service Office; and an Army veteran and survivor of the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas who, as a psychologist, is one of the nation’s leading researchers in post-traumatic stress disorder.
For his part, Pohorilla revolutionized the oil industry with his development of the first 10W-30 multi-grade oil. He has co-authored seven patents. And he’s an ever-present volunteer at Motts Military Museum in Groveport.
Gov. Mike DeWine told the crowd that the men and women on the stage chose to not stop giving just because they took off their uniforms. They deserve thanks for their volunteerism, advocacy and commitment to public service, he said.
“Ohio owes each and every one of you a huge debt,” he told the inductees. “This ceremony is just a small part of trying to pay it back.”
DeWine and retired Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, the director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, presented each of the honorees with a plaque, and offered handshakes. Ashenhurst always made sure the medal around each honoree’s neck was straight, and kept their ribbons from crushing their lapel carnations. Each time, she shielded her eyes from the stage’s bright lights to look for each veteran’s loved ones in the crowd and give them a wave.
She even gave hugs, including to John T. “Ted” Mosure. A former Navy SEAL from Columbus’ North Side, Mosure had one of the largest contingents of family and friends in the audience, numbering about 30.
Mosure is well known in Ohio’s veteran community, especially for his work with Vietnam Veterans of America Columbus Chapter 16 and as a founding member of the Ohio Military Hall of Fame. He also is a local musician and active in his church.
After the ceremony, Mosure said it’s a bit embarrassing to be recognized as part of such a distinguished group of people who simply work hard to do what’s right in their communities.
“It’s the pinnacle of my veteran and post-service career,” said Mosure, 70. “What an honor.”
In addition to Pohorilla and Mosure, other central Ohio inductees included: Army veterans Alvin Burzynski and John Dreska and Air Force veteran Richard Isbell, all from Franklin County; Navy veteran Jon Bennehoof of Delaware; and Marine Corps veteran James Watercutter of Licking County.