Robena Mine memorial service to take place on Dec. 6

Source: Greene County Messenger

A memorial service will take place on December 6 to honor the miners who died 56 years ago in an explosion at U.S. Steel Corp’s Robena Mine No. 3.

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) will begin the service at 11 a.m. at the Robena Monument on Route 21 in Monongahela Township, just west of Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station.

UMWA District 2 and the Local Union 1980 will conduct the service, which takes place each year to honor the 37 miners who died in one of Greene County’s worst mining disasters. The memorial service also fulfills a promise by the UMWA to never forget the men who died, as well as their families.

“Robena was the impetus for the development of the Mine Safety and Health Act in 1969,” said Edward Yankovich, International District 2 vice president. “This service reminds us year after year of the sacrifices of these men for a common good no matter how tragic it was.”

The public is invited to attend and the UMWA has extended a special invitation to the union’s membership and families.

The keynote speaker at this year’s event will be UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts. Also scheduled to speak is Levi Allen, the secretary and treasurer for UMWA International. Yankovich will serve as master of ceremonies.

According to the UMWA, at about 1 p.m. on December 6, 1962, an explosion ripped through Robena Mine, starting from a point about 650 feet below ground and about two miles from the base of Frosty Run Shaft in Carmichaels. The force of the explosion was so strong it knocked down men who were working more than two miles away.

One hundred and seventy men were in the mine at the time of the explosion. The 37 miners who died were members of a continuous miner crew working in the 8 left 4 main section.

The explosion was believed to have been caused by a buildup of methane gas, resulting from a temporary shutdown of ventilation fans. The gas was ignited by a spark from mine equipment.

The explosion at Robena was the worst mine disaster to have occurred in Greene County since May 19, 1928, when an explosion at Mather Mine took the lives of 195 miners.

The 37 men who lost their lives at the December 6 explosion were: Adam Andrews Jr., Norman A. Benninghoff, William J. Blacka, James H. Boyd, Albert Bronakoski, Nicola Caromano, Albert Cavalcante, Frank Hainzer Jr., James W. Hribal, Frank Hudock, Andy J. Hvizdos, John Karlyak, Andrew K. “Kino” Kanyuch, Arthur Labons, Charles Laucher, Alex Marra, John C. Martoncik, Elmer W. McCann, Orrin E. McDowell, Ernest Mollica, Homer F. Pitts, Samuel Rain, Franklin H. Rifenburg, Allen J. Sanner, John M. Santer, Charles J. Sebeck, Charles J. Seper, George L. Speelman, John J. St. Clair, Hurley C. Stalnaker, Mike E. Stanik, John H. Steech, Joseph V. Tokish, Charles S. Van Divner, William H.R. Wright, Eugene G. Zuzak and Paul C. Zvolenski.

Written b