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. ••