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The Cincinnati Enquirer / Written by Steve Kemme / April 10, 2012

Marine Tower Bell To Be Cast
In Cincinnati

Local Marines and Community Invited to Casting of Marine Aviation Bell In Commemoration of 100 Years of Marine Aviation

Marine Aviation Bell - Marine Lt. Col. William Rasgorshek
Marine Lt. Col. William Rasgorshek

The sound of a ringing bell had special significance for Marine Lt. Col. William Rasgorshek while he served in Iraq.

It meant that one of his three emergency rescue crews had to rush to a helicopter and fly to a location where Marines had been wounded. He himself flew on 115 rescue missions in 2006 and 2007 in Iraq.

“Sometimes, the bell rang as many as 15 times a day,” Rasgorshek said. “It was our job to ensure that the fallen Marines got home safely.”

Rasgorshek, who recently returned from active duty in Afghanistan, will come to Cincinnati to participate in an April 26 bell-casting ceremony celebrating 100 years of Marine aviation.

When I see the bell cast in Cincinnati, I will know that I have made a difference in making sure we always remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country."

— Marine Lt. Col. William Rasgorshek


Cincinnati’s Verdin Co., known for its creation and restoration of bells and clocks, will cast a 250-pound bell in its mobile bell foundry at Verdin’s Bell Event Centre in Over-the-Rhine. The bell will be placed in a 30-foot-high memorial tower the company will build at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.

Rasgorshek conceived the idea of a Marine aviation memorial tower while contemplating a way to honor seven of his close friends who lost their lives when they were shot down in a helicopter in Iraq on Feb. 7, 2007.

The memorial tower will pay homage to all those who have served in Marine aviation, especially those who lost their lives while on duty. Rasgorshek and other members of his Marine Corps Aviation Association McCutcheon Squadron in North Carolina have been working on this project during their off-duty hours.

We're proud to be casting the bell and building the tower to honor the generations of Marines that have served for the past 100 years."

— Jim Verdin, president of The Verdin Company


Families of two of the seven crew members who were killed will come to Cincinnati for the bell-casting, which will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. April 26, at the Bell Event Centre, 444 Reading Road. The gold aviation wings of each of the seven crew members will be melted and added to the molten bronze that will be cast into the bell.

A Marine Warrior Night Memorial fundraising dinner will follow the bell casting.

Reservations are required. The cost is $75 per person and $750 for a table of 10. To make reservations, go to www.honorourmarines.org or call 855-464-6268. Proceeds will help pay for the Marine Aviation Memorial Bell Tower.

The next day, April 27, the bell will be grinded and polished at the Verdin Bell Foundry at 3900 Kellogg Ave., East End. At 4:30 p.m., the bell will be unveiled at the foundry and will be rung for the first time.

The U.S. Marines Communications Co. in Cincinnati is helping arrange the fundraising dinner and will supply the color guard for the ceremonies.

“This is a big event,” said Maj. David Valentino, the company’s inspector-instructor.

“There are no aviators in our company, but we’re all Marines. We’re here to support the event in any way we can.”

The bell tower will be erected and dedicated in Pensacola on Aug. 20.

The helicopter rescue squadrons in Iraq were trained to be on board and ready to go within 10 minutes of the ringing of the bell.

“If we got the fallen Marines to medical care within an hour, we would save the lives of the majority of them,” Rasgorshek said.

“When I see the bell cast in Cincinnati, I will know that I have made a difference in making sure we always remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”


Read more » Marine Aviation Centennial Bell Tower Leaves Cincinnati


Learn more » Marine Aviation Centennial Bell Tower


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