Technical Sergeant Mike Capelli Memorial Bridge

Charles Merlo Jr. (Mike Capelli’s nephew) and Joe Lesniak (Capelli’s son), along with other family members, reveal a replica “Technical Sergeant Mike Capelli Memorial Bridge” sign during a ceremony at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial in downtown Johnstown on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021.

For the second time this year, Mike Capelli has received a prominent recognition for his sacrifices and heroism during World War II.

He was inducted into the Cambria County Military Hall of Fame in July.

Then, on Friday, the bridge on Dishong Mountain Road that goes over U.S. Route 22 in Jackson Township was renamed the Technical Sergeant Mike Capelli Memorial Bridge during a ceremony inside 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial in downtown Johnstown.

“The family thinks Mike Capelli is very happy with his bridge on the Chickaree Mountain,” his nephew, Charles Merlo Jr., said. “We will all be reminded of his heroism when traveling Route 22. Look up, look overhead, you’ll see the bridge, and you’ll remember Mike Capelli.”

It is the 19th bridge named for a veteran in Cambria County.

Capelli, a Nanty Glo resident, earned two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star during his time in the Army. His family currently has three of his Purple Hearts, but it is believed they did not receive a fourth one yet for when he was killed on Jan. 8, 1945 in Wildenguth, France.

He was one of 863 service members from Cambria County known to have died during World War II.

“Mike epitomizes everything that is why we are here,” War Memorial Veterans Committee Chairman Marty Kuhar said.

The bridge was named in Capelli’s honor due to the efforts of state Rep. Frank Burns, D-East Taylor Township, 72nd Legislative District, who sponsored the bill that passed unanimously.

“Right now, I got to think the great Mike is looking down and he’s happy,” Burns said.

“He’s happy for the work that was put in to make this happen, and I’m happy that I could just be part of it. This is a very touching ceremony. I’ve done these before. I never remember being choked up, but this has a different feel to it than most.” 

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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