Port Richmond embraces its fallen soldier

A Port Rich­mond man was the first Amer­ic­an to die in the Korean War, and a plaque in his hon­or has been col­lect­ing dust. Now, a loc­al group hopes to in­stall the plaque in Camp­bell Square.

A plaque hon­or­ing Stan­ley A. Go­goj, the Port Rich­mond nat­ive who was the first Amer­ic­an cas­u­alty in the Korean War, was dis­played at Camp­bell Square on Me­mori­al Day. Park or­gan­izers are now seek­ing to in­stall it per­man­ently. SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

He was a “me­mori­al’s miss­ing name,” but he’ll be for­got­ten no more.

A plaque in hon­or of a Port Rich­mond man who was the first per­son from the Phil­adelphia area to die in the Korean War was dis­played on Me­mori­al Day this year at Camp­bell Square.

The plaque has sat gath­er­ing dust for over a dec­ade, but the Friends of Camp­bell Square group is now hop­ing to raise funds to per­man­ently in­stall the plaque.

Pfc. Stan­ley A. Go­goj died in 1950 at age 20 in the Korean War. De­part­ment of De­fense re­cords show he was from East Clear­field and Tulip streets in Port Rich­mond, and had at­ten­ded North Cath­ol­ic High School.

No known re­l­at­ives of Go­goj still live in Port Rich­mond, but in a way, all of Port Rich­mond has now be­come Go­goj’s fam­ily.

“The whole neigh­bor­hood is more aware now of Stan­ley than it ever was,” said Al Porta, 84, a Port Rich­mond res­id­ent and mem­ber of Korean War Vet­er­ans Chapter 38 – of­fi­cially known as “Stan­ley A. Go­goj Chapter” – who proudly at­ten­ded the Me­mori­al Day flag-rais­ing ce­re­mony at Camp­bell Square.

“Any GI will tell you, it’s the oth­er guys, the guys who didn’t come back, who are the her­oes. When you get a medal, you feel humbled, be­cause they made the su­preme sac­ri­fice — we didn’t make the su­preme sac­ri­fice,” said Porta, who was a private first class and won a Bronze Star while serving with the Army’s 25th Di­vi­sion in Korea.  

“I get more pleas­ure em­phas­iz­ing Stan­ley Go­goj than talk­ing about my own ex­per­i­ence,” Porta said.

Pfc. Go­goj died on June 30, 1950, just five days after war was de­clared on June 25.

He was in a trans­port plane that was bombed by the North Koreans.

His name is chiseled in­to gran­ite at the city’s of­fi­cial Korean War Vet­er­ans Me­mori­al at Front and Dock streets on Penn’s Land­ing, along with the list of ap­prox­im­ately 600 oth­er sol­diers who died while fight­ing in the Korean War.

However, Chapter 38 pres­id­ent and Fishtown nat­ive John Plenskof­ski has had a bronze plaque, which tells Go­goj’s story and was in­ten­ded to ad­orn that monu­ment, sit­ting in his stor­age unit for years now.

It was nev­er ap­proved to be in­cluded at the of­fi­cial monu­ment.

The en­tire story was told by Star in the May 8 art­icle “A me­mori­al’s miss­ing name.”

After hear­ing that this trib­ute to Go­goj was go­ing un­seen by res­id­ents of the fallen sol­dier’s com­munity, the Friends of Camp­bell Square stepped in to of­fer the plaque a new home in the heart of Port Rich­mond.

At a re­cent meet­ings of the Korean War Vet­er­ans Stan­ley A. Go­goj Chapter 38, the hefty bronze plaque was ce­re­mo­ni­ously passed on to the Friends of Camp­bell Square.

“It took three of us to carry it to the car, and four of us to place it in the park,” said Friends of Camp­bell Square mem­ber John Ra­jca. “I’m a vet­er­an my­self. I want to make sure something like that is not for­got­ten.”

The Fair­mount Park Com­mis­sion didn’t re­spond by press-time to in­quir­ies about the per­mit pro­cess the Friends of Camp­bell Square must now go through to have the plaque in­stalled, or about how much that pro­cess will cost.

The Friends of Camp­bell Square said they in­tend to raise funds for a poured ce­ment in­stall­a­tion of the plaque once all re­quired per­mits are ac­quired.

“We’re hop­ing to get it done as soon as we can,” Ra­jca said. ••

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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