New memorial for soldiers unveiled by Albion Town Hall

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 May 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – A new memorial for veterans from Albion was unveiled this morning in a ceremony at the Albion Town Hall. The memorial shows a metal sculpture of a battlefield cross.

Jeff Benfer, a local welder and artist, created the sculpture as a donation to the community. The pieces were all cut and shaped by hand.

Jakes Olles (left), an Albion town councilman, said there is more work to be done on the memorial. He is pictured next to Benfer by the Town Hall on Clarendon Road.

Olles wants a large piece of Medina sandstone behind the sculpture with the names of local veterans who have died while serving their country.

Jason Johnston is the most recent Albion resident to die at war. He was killed in Afghanistan on Dec. 26, 2009. His family attended the memorial unveiling today. Johnston and Benfer are cousins.

“There isn’t anyone from Albion who hasn’t been affected by a war,” Olles said.

Olles sought to include Medina sandstone pieces for the memorial. The Albion Town Highway Department set up the sandstone pieces and did other site work.

Steve Coville, a veteran from Albion, carries the American flag while joined by Tyler Umlauf, 9, and Nevaeh Umlauf, 11. Jason Johnston is their uncle.

The Honor Guard from the Attica Correctional Facility is in the background.

Coville raises the flag at the Albion Town Hall.

The Honor Guard from Attica Correctional Facility attended today’s memorial unveiling and did a gun salute. Olles is a sergeant at the prison in Wyoming County.

“If we’re asked, we try to go,” said Lt. Scott Markowski, a member of the Honor Guard that attends many funerals for people who served as corrections officers.

Olles said he expects there will be a bigger dedication service when the memorial is complete later this year.