HARRISBURG – When state Rep. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk) was approached by Brady Township supervisors and several veterans organizations with a specific desire to honor a local war hero, he didn’t realize the help he’d get from a legislative “neighbor” with a personal stake in the story.
“When we have the opportunity to bring something like this to the House floor, the human story behind these recognitions always impresses me,” Gabler said.
“Little did I know the research I did on Robert Clyde Gontero would be enhanced by a House colleague who knew him very well.”
Recently, the state House unanimously passed House Bill 1868, Gabler’s legislation that would designate the Route 219/322 bridge over the railroad tracks in Brady Township as the LCPL Robert Clyde Gontero Bridge.
“Lance Corporal Gontero made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in Vietnam,” Gabler added. “We’re now a step closer to publicly acknowledging his courage, bravery and willingness to serve.”
While crafting the legislation, Gabler discovered Gontero’s first cousin is his House colleague, Rep. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson/Indiana).
“Where Representative Gabler and I are from, 1969 was a little bit different from what we saw on television,” said Dush. “Our people knew and understood what our folks who volunteered, like Bobby Gontero stood for, why they were going and why they raised their hands.
“Bobby and his service have impacted so many, and I wish we could have had more of those he touched, like his brother, Gary, and his family, here on the House floor today. His daughter, Robyn; her husband, Carl; and one of his granddaughters, Ryleigh; were each able to join us.
“We’re hoping to have many more family members in attendance when we dedicate the bridge.”
Gontero, who lived in Brady Township, graduated from DuBois Area High School in 1965. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps three years later, served with the Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Division and was killed in action during a search and clear mission in Quang Nam Province.
House Bill 1868 may now be taken up by the state Senate.