The usually quiet Centreville Sully Station Post Office saw unusual fanfare on the afternoon of Saturday, May 21. Family, friends, comrades and elected officials gathered as the postal facility was named posthumously in honor of , a decorated war hero, former prisoner of war and longtime Centreville resident.
At the age of 96, Juskalian died on July 4 last year and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
US Congressman Frank Wolf (VA-10) and Delegate Jim LeMunyon (R-67) were among those who spoke at Saturday's ceremony. "Colonel Juskalian was an example of the best of America," Wolf said in his remarks Saturday. Many of Juskalian's fellow veterans credit Wolf as responsible for ensuring the legislation required to name the post office passed. In fact, HR 6392 was approved just days before a new Congress took office.
The band and chorus joined color guards from local and in remembering this supremely decorated war veteran's commitment to his country. This proud son of Armenian immigrants served in all of his country's modern conflicts; World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
The list of Juskalian's decorations required nearly a full page to list in Saturday's program. Just a few of these included the Legion of Merit, Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Bronze Star with three Oak Leaf Clusters. One of the most highly decorated Armenian-Americans to ever serve the United States, Juskalian served for over three decades in the military.
His decorations are among the highest and most rarely bestowed on US military personnel. The Legion of Merit is one of only two neck orders given and is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements, according to the Department of Defense. The silver star and bronze star are the United States' third and fourth highest decorations respectively. The silver star is awarded "to those who perform valor in the face of the enemy." The bronze star is awarded for acts of bravery or merit.
There is no doubt that Juskalian's medals were hard won. Originally an FBI finger-printer from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Juskalian was among the first American troops shipped out for WWII. While stationed in Africa, he rushed enemy lines to save the body of a fellow soldier and was consequently taken prisoner. He served more than two years in prisoner of war camps in Italy, Germany and Poland. Despite severe claustrophobia, Juskalian worked with British soldiers to dig an escape tunnel from camp.
Juskalian went on to serve as an assistant secretary of war, under then General Dwight D. Eisenhower. He received a second silver star for gallantry in action during his battalion command of the Korean War's grueling "Battle for Old Baldy."
Later, he served as a Department of Defense military adviser during the Vietnam War. He retired in 1967.
After son Kevork spoke, Congressman Wolf, members of the US postal service and members of the family dedicated the building in Colonel Juskalian's memory. Former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, retired General Julius Becton long ago worked for Juskalian and was among Saturday's attendees.
In a previous interview with Patch, Juskalian's son Kevork described his father as "the youngest old person I knew." He said his father's work with local high school students "kept him young."
Juskalian's service has inspired a whole new generation of veterans. New VFW Post 8469 Vice Commander and veteran Jacobo Flores was also present for Saturday's ceremony. He and Post Commander Josh Lawton, both veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq, are both in their 20s and say they hope "to continue the legacy of stewardship, patriotic service and local support" left by Juskalian.