Honoring heroes both fallen and standing

By Jason Mount

During Veteran’s Week at Rider, heroes are honored in a multitude of ways, one of which being a screening of the film “Heroes are Never Forgotten: A Peter Tomich Story.”

The Office of Veterans and Military Affairs hosted a screening of the film in order to celebrate two particular unknown heroes, Rear Admiral J. Robert Lunney and Peter Tomich.

Susan Hammond, Marketing Manager for the College of Continuing Studies, explained the importance of telling Tomich’s story.

“Peter Tomich, Chief Water Tender of the USS Utah stationed in Pearl Harbor, sacrificed his life for the safety of his shipmates,” Hammond said. “He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroic act. However, for nearly 64 years, his Medal of Honor circulated around the country and was not properly awarded to his family. Rear Adm. Lunney spent nearly a decade searching for Tomich’s descendants and proving his case to rightfully issue them his medal.”

Senior digital marketing major Rose Eddy admired Rear Adm. Lunney’s dedication to returning the medal to Tomich’s family.

“When watching this film, the viewer realizes that Rear Adm. Lunney has no relation whatsoever to Peter Tomich,” Eddy said. “He spent many years and a lot of his own money to pursue an act of kindness that he had no personal gain from. The Medal of Honor is the highest award someone can receive in our military and Rear Adm. Lunney’s dedication to returning it to its proper home was truly an inspiring act to witness.”

Through the perseverance of Rear Adm. Lunney, Tomich’s family was eventually able to receive the Medal of Honor awarded decades ago.

In honor of the film and the message it was hoping to convey, Rear Adm. Lunney attended the screening as well as the film’s director, Ištvan Filaković, and the film’s writers, Nenad Bach and Vladimir Brnardić, from Croatia.

Coordinator of Veterans and Military Affairs Thomas Reddington found their attendance to be impactful for the viewers.

“They can get the background and flesh out the whole story,” Reddington said. “I mean, you’ve got the people that actually lived through the events in the film and the people who then recorded those events and then made it into a documentary.”

Reddington, as well as the rest of the Office of Veterans and Military Affairs, hoped that students continue to respect and revere all of the heroes, known or otherwise, that honor the country with their deeds.

Hammond hoped that the screening of the film would inspire students to find the unsung heroes in their own lives, as well as learn to appreciate the people who defend the country day after day.

“Our hope is that students walk away with the deepest appreciation and gratitude for the brave men and women who dedicate their lives in service and sacrifice for our country,” Hammond said.

Printed in the 11/13/19 issue of The Rider News.

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