WARREN — The Military Order of the Purple Hearts Chapter 606, in collaboration with the Mahoning Valley Community Foundation, has established a special scholarship in memory of local veteran Gary Gutelius, who died Feb. 12 on his 74th birthday.
Herm Breuer, director of the Trumbull County Veterans Services Commission, said the Purple Heart Gary Gutelius Memorial Scholarship Fund was officially launched to remember Gutelius. The scholarship is now worth $40,000.
“Gary was part of a lot of different veterans organizations, but he always had a soft spot for Purple Heart organizations.” Breuer said.
Leo Connelly Jr. of Boardman, a member of the Military Order of the Purple Hearts Chapter 606, came up with the idea of having a scholarship. “Gary was very excited about the idea of a scholarship and we want to name it in his memory,” Breuer said.
The scholarship will be awarded to the children, stepchildren, or grandchildren of a Purple Heart recipient who are attending college in Ohio or in any other training or apprenticeship program for diverse career preparation. Breuer said the details of how much the scholarships will be are still being worked out.
“We are here to help people. The only requirement that Chapter 606 will ask for is that the person completes what he is doing. We want to help people along their journey. Not everyone goes to college, which is very understandable.” Connelly said.
He said that Gutelio was “Probably the kindest guy you’d want to meet.”
“He was the kind of person who would go and do what needs to be done and not tell anybody that he did it. He automatically went and did something and loved people. When he was in pain, he made you smile.” Connelly said.
Breuer said that Gutelius would dress up as the Easter Bunny at the VFW, which made it special for the kids.
He said the Mahoning Valley Community Foundation is helping with scholarship money. The foundation will administer the fund and help veterans screen applicants for the scholarship.
Rachael Chacón, director of development and marketing for the foundation, said she often works with an organization or charity to establish scholarships and funds.
Gutelius was drafted into the United States Army in 1967 and served with the 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam War. He was wounded in the Battle of Hamburger Hill, a 10-day battle fought during the three-phase Operation Apache Snow, which was a campaign to destroy North Vietnamese Army bases in the A Shau Valley. He received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service.
Gutelius belonged to many different veterans organizations, including being a life member of: DAV Chapter 11, VFW Post 1090, the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 606, where he served as Senior Vice Commander, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the American Legion Post 540 and Amvets Post 290.
Gutelius spearheaded the Veterans Day and Memorial Day committees in Trumbull County, as well as organizing volunteers each year to decorate veterans’ graves for Memorial Day. In 2018, she had the honor of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day.