I knew him as Uncle Joe, one of the two beloved uncles who raised me.
Uncle Joe was drafted to fight when the US joined the fight after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
A sharp young lad who, although born in the US was raised in Sicily, spoke little to no English. My grandfather did not want him to fight as an Italian soldier, thank God or he would have died with all his friends on the Russian front. No, my grandfather told them, “You are Americans and if you have to go to war you will fight for your country.” He shipped them to the United States with some difficulty, my grandmother told me. Italy didn’t want to lose abled bodies, but when they produced their American birth certificates the authorities had no choice but to let them leave Italy.
With little understanding of the language Uncle Joe found it hard to execute his duties, at times he really didn’t know what they were asking him to do. But he was there, enthusiastic to fight for his country.
He was shipped to France soon after he was drafted. Don’t know how much of the fighting he saw before an eye doctor heard about the soldier who didn’t speak English and who was in medical school specializing in ophthalmology.
Uncle Joe was back in his element and helped with many operations while overseas.
When he came back home, my grandmother always told me, he was never the same. He would zone out… but he learned to release all his terrible war experiences through his paintings.
I’m always thankful to God for sparing his life because he was the best Dad a girl could ever have.
Uncle Joe is no longer with us, but he will always be in my heart. I love you Uncle Joe.