A Stroudsburg Area School District alumnus and military hero is now memorialized inside Ross-Stulgaitis stadium thanks to a generous donation from a history buff and California resident.
The district rededicated their football field to honor local World War II hero, Sgt. Gordon J. Giffels '36 before the first home game of the 2019 football season.
Giffels, a marine sergeant, died in a battle on the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. He was the first person from Monroe County to pass away in World War II. Giffels was well-known in the Stroudsburg community, playing baseball, basketball, wrestling and football while attending Stroudsburg High School.
John Schauweker, who previously had no ties to the Stroudsburg area, learned of Giffels's story while writing a book about a professional baseball player who played on a different field that was named for Giffels after his death in 1942. A field that no longer exists.
"The more I dug in, the more fascinating it became that there was a pioneer who was from Monroe County and the Stroudsburg area. I thought this man's life needs to be known by later generations," Schauweker said.
He took it upon himself to design and purchase a large, cast aluminum plaque in Giffels's honor that was hung inside Ross-Stulgaitis Stadium.
John Schauweker said because he comes from a military family, the difficult choices that military members and their families make resonate deeply with him and this gift was his way of honoring Sgt. Giffels's life and giving back to the Mountaineer community.
"It has been an extensive history lesson not only for me but for the people in the community," said Superintendent Cosmas Curry. "Many people have said to me. I never knew who he was. It is really calling to mind a special person who gave his life for our nation."
Curry said learning more about Giffels's life and how he served his country was an honor that he is excited to share for years to come.
"Coaches, fans, boosters are extremely excited to have this honor bestowed... to share on a regular basis with current students and future alumni as to who Gordon Giffels was and what he meant to Stroudsburg."