Connecticut Cruise News – Jul/Aug 2011

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The Connecticut Patriot Guard Riders have had another busy month, starting with an especially moving mission. On May 12th we stood for Primo Carnabuci at the church in Old Saybrook and again at the cemetery in Clinton. Cpl Carnabuci served in the US Army on Korea, earning the Distinguished Service Cross in an action in Sept 1950. A month later, his regiment was attacked and overwhelmed by Chinese forces and Carnabuci was killed, his body and many others were not recovered. Sixty years later, his body was found during a gold-mining operation in North Korea and DNA testing confirmed his identity. So sixty-one years after his death, his remains were returned to his home town for a proper long-delayed burial.  His remains were carried from the funeral home to the church in a horse-drawn hearse. The church was also a parochial school, and all the students were lining the sidewalk to honor this hero who was finally being returned home and laid to rest. The PGR lined the walk into the church as the casket was taken inside. After everyone was inside the church, we broke down the flag line and headed for the cemetery to set up there, in advance of the funeral procession’s arrival. As we were heading back towards the flag truck, we walked past a line of clapping 1st and 2nd graders who were honoring our service as we in turn were there to honor Cpl Carnabuci’s. As we walked past the clapping students, I noticed quite a few misty eyed old veterans, humbled by these young children. Needless to say, the school’s Mother Superior received a CT PGR coin. Even though it was a funeral, this was definitely a “feel good” mission, bringing this hero home after sixty plus years.

On May 14th, we stood an Honor Mission in Stafford Springs for Donald Swift, who served in the Army during WWII. An expert marksman, he spent part of his service as a general’s personal driver. The following day we had our “Respect Our Veterans” ride. Even though it rained for the second year in a row, and we had to cancel the actual ride itself, we all enjoyed some good food and company in the covered pavilion. The next day May 16th brought another Honor Mission, this one for Army veteran Eric Carson. The following day May 17th brought another Honor Mission. This one at the Middletown State Veteran’s Cemetery for Marine Albert Teixeira, who served during the Vietnam War.

We had a few days off, before called upon again on May 21st for an Honor Mission in Westbrook for Army veteran James Santarsiere who served during WWII in the Asiatic-Pacific theater as a medium tank crewman earning multiple Bronze Service Stars. On May 26th, we were called for another Honor Mission in Southington for Army Brigadier General George Fusco, who served from 1948 to 1992, first in the Korean Conflict and ending up assigned to intelligence at the Pentagon.

A few days later on May 26th, we were honored to stand a flag line at a different kind of ceremony for us. There is a Wall of Honor at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford where pictures of Connecticut’s fallen soldiers lost in Iraq and Afghanistan are displayed. It was an honor for us to stand a flag line during the ceremony, where multiple politicians spoke followed by multiple family members who gave some very moving talks of remembrance of their heroes. We then proceeded to the actual site of the Wall and stood another flag line while pictures of the 7 additional fallen were added to the 49 Connecticut heroes already displayed. A very moving experience and our thanks go out to Nancy Wyman who is the driving force behind this effort

The following day May 27th brought another Honor Mission, this one in New Canaan for Marine veteran Stephen Wood, who served for a time in Iceland, and then went on to a 33 year career in the New Canaan police force. Next Honor Mission was June 3rd in Seymour for Marine veteran Lcpl Jack Dolyak who served during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The following day June 4th brought another Honor Mission, for WWII veteran Edwin Frost. Edwin served with the 8th Air Force as a navigator on a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber. He completed multiple mission before being shot down in October 1943 and spending the rest of the war as a POW  in Stalag Luft III (setting for the Great-Escape). He was awarded 2 Bronze Service Stars and the Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters for his service.

The month of June kicked off with an Honor Mission on June 3rd in Seymour for John Dolyak, a Lance Cpl in the Marines who served during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The next day, June 4th, brought another Honor Mission, this one in Norwalk & New Canaan for Edwin Frost, an Air Force veteran from WWII who flew many missions on a B-17 Flying Fortress before being shot down and spending the remainder of the war in a German POW camp. June 10th brought another Honor Mission, this one in Thomaston for Francis Duba, a Navy veteran who served in the submarine service during WWII and beyond. He ended his military career in 1968, having served 25 years including being a plank-owner on the USS Nautilus SSN-571, the first nuclear powered submarine. A few days later, on June 12th, we stood a flag line at a Welcome Home for Marine Sgt Jeffery Smeriglio in Cos Cob. It was inspiring to see the number of local residents that joined us in the flag line, showing their support for this home town here.

June 20th found us in North Granby at a memorial service for Army Spc Richard Emmons who was a recent OEF casualty. He was buried out of state, but he graduated from Granby High School and was living in town when he joined up, so there was a memorial service at the local high school, which was well attended by friends, classmates, and local residents. A couple days later, on June 22nd, we were in Waterford for a Honor Mission for a WWII Army Master Sgt Charles Wagniere. June 27th brought another Honor Mission in Seymour and Derby for a WWII Navy veteran Serafino “Red” Dellapiano. He served with Combat Demolition Unit 28 during the Normandy invasion, and received the Silver Star and the French “Croix de guerre” for his service. The next day, June 28th, brought the final Honor Mission for this issue in Central Village for John Nipula, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Blue Water Navy off the coast of Vietnam.

That’s it for the missions since the last CT Cruise News issue deadline. We have gained numerous new members recently, and I thank them all for joining us in showing support for our hero’s service. I don’t have a lot of pictures from this month’s mission so I thought I’d show some vest/jacket pictures from the various organizations that we are proud to have stand with us. As always, we invite you to come out and join us in our mission to honor this country’s veterans at their funeral services. Come out to one, grab a Flag and stand alongside us, experience the same satisfaction the rest of us do. You’ll be back.

Go to www.patriotguard.org for more information or to join up.