O'Neal's story notes that Gromosiak describes himself as a "honorary survivor" of the U.S.S. Indianapolis. That is partly the rub as I see it. That "honorary" status has seemingly morphed into actual survivor status over the years. Gromosiak has raised a lot of money in subsequent years, but he wasn't one of the original contributors who are listed on the plaque. Stewart Goodwin tells O'Neal the situation is sad. "One of our core values is service before self," he said. "I'm not sure he has grasped that." So Gromosiak is leading a protest this weekend on his own behalf to have his name restored. I don't know about other Marsh patrons, but I feel that Gromosiak has become an unwelcome pest. Apparently, that's how a lot of people surrounding this issue at the memorial have come to feel about him as well. He was being a pest when his name got added to the plaque, and he's become an even worse pest since his name was removed from it.
"His name doesn't belong there -- just the people who paid for that memorial," said Mike Kurya, 83, Bartlett, Ill., who served for two years on the Indianapolis and was 19 when it was sunk. "I'm upset that in our golden years, we have to put up with that." . . . .
The controversy started several years after the memorial was finished. According to Goodwin, some of the Indianapolis survivors went to Bill Sweeney, who was executive director of the monument commission at the time, and persuaded him to add Gromosiak's name to the donor's plaque. Goodwin said that led to complaints, and Sweeney later said he had made a mistake, and he had Gromosiak's name removed from the plaque.
Twice, the War Memorial Commission heard Gromosiak's appeals to have his name restored to the plaque, and twice the commission turned him down, Goodwin said.
Although Gromosiak has raised money for the survivors' organization and helped fund reunions, he was not part of the group that paid for the memorial and his name should not be on the original donors' plaque, Goodwin said in explaining the commission's reasoning.
"He never was qualified to be on that plaque," said Pat Finneran, 73, an Indianapolis naval pilot who flew in Korea and Vietnam. He is the former executive director of the USS Indianapolis Survivors Memorial Organization.
Friday, October 17, 2008
John Gromosiak's Battle To Restore Name To USS Indianapolis Plaque
If you're a downtown resident and you patronize the Marsh grocery store (formerly O'Malias), you no doubt know who John Gromosiak is. He's the guy who has been peddling U.S.S. Indianapolis books and other memorabilia of the sunken World War II ship near the store's exit door for what seems like the past decade. The Star's Kevin O'Neal has a story today about Gromosiak's efforts to get his name restored to a portion of the U.S.S. Indianapolis memorial on the canal where the names of those who paid for the memorial are listed. Gromosiak's name made it on an original plaque of contributors; however, as O'Neal explains, his name was removed after several U.S.S. Indianapolis survivors complained. O'Neal writes: