Former West Virginia Senator John G. Chernenko Remembered


 Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered State flags at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, and at all state-owned facilities in Brooke County to be lowered from dawn to dusk on Friday, May 1, as the celebration of life services take place for former Senator John. G. Chernenko. 

Chernenko was a member of the Armed Forces, a State Senator, and a strong advocate for Brooke County. He served in World War II and went ashore as part of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. He was wounded three times during the war, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was captured by German Troops and held as a prisoner of war near the North Sea. 

He received a number of honors for his time in the military, including the Purple Heart with Cluster, two Bronze Stars, Presidential Unit Citation, Five Campaigns Medal, French Jubilee of Liberty Medal, POW Medal, Belgian Croix de Guerre, Combat Infantry Medal and the European Campaign Medal. At the time of his death, he was awaiting confirmation as a Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French Government.

Chernenko was appointed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy to serve as United States Marshal for the Northern District of West Virginia. He was the youngest Marshal in the country at the time. He served for eight years until 1969.

He was elected to service in the West Virginia Senate in 1982, and served until 1994.

Chernenko is survived by his wife of 65 years, Kathryn Smith Chernenko; two sons, Gary C. Chernenko (Susan) and Marc B. Chernenko (Joyce); a daughter Janet Chernenko Mears (John); two grandchildren, John Cullen Mears and Meredith K. Mears, as well as several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by four sisters, Maria Chernenko, Tillie Sliday, Anne Husick and Sophia Bowman.

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