Anchor at Admiral Peary Vo-Tech refurbished, rededicated

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Jun. 8—EBENSBURG — Edward Steinbugl, Jr. didn't know that the anchor from the ship he served on during his time in the United States Marine Corp. resided in his back yard, but he was impressed at how the Admiral Peary Area Vocational Technical students refurbished it.

"They did a nice job," the Altoona resident said. "It's great for the school."

He was one of several veterans who were guests at an anchor rededication ceremony Tuesday.

The 11-foot-tall, nine-foot-wide, 30,000-pound piece of metal had been used on an aircraft carrier incarnation of the USS Wasp, on which Steinbugl served from 1967 to 1968, and was loaned to the school by the U.S. Navy around 1994.

The Essex-class Wasp was commissioned during World War II and decommissioned afterward.

In the late 1950s, the ship was modernized and given new life as an attack carrier, then later as an anti-submarine carrier and decommissioned completely in 1972.

Over time in the harsh Pennsylvania climate, the anchor began to look a little worse for ware.

When Executive Director Andrew Paronish was hired last August, he started inquiring about refurbishing it.

"There were stringent guidelines on what could be done," he said.

After making some calls, Paronish was recently given the go-ahead to start the work.

Students from several programs at Admiral Peary helped with roughly three-week project and had to videotape every step of the process to prove that the refurbishment was being done correctly.

"We wanted to involve our kids as much as we could," Paronish said.

A new concrete based was poured, lighting installed and flowers planted along with a new seal coat for the anchor.

The purpose of this work is to serve as a sign of a fresh start, said Paronish, who has been working on the culture at the school, and noted the new programs being added.

He wants the community to know that the vocational school is open to everyone and can provide strong career paths for students.

"There's a lot of good things going on here," Paronish said.

In addition to the work on the anchor, a podium of sorts will be constructed at the base of the structure in which two plaques will be embedded.

Paronish debuted the plaques Tuesday — one provides detailed information on Admiral Robert E. Peary while the other provides the service record and background information for the USS Wasp.

The site will serve as a memorial to those who have served in the military.

Paronish said it was important for the school to retain its connection to service and Peary, and encouraged the next administration and group of learners to take care of the school's symbol.