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My Favorite Veteran
November 14, 2008 - Joe Gorman
One of my assignments this week was to cover the unveiling of the Trumbull County Veterans Memorial in Warren.
One of the things missing was my favorite veteran, John Dennis Fitzgerald.
He was my Grandpa, and he died in March at the age of 87. As a youngster he was one of the giants of my life and that still holds true today.
Grandpa was a technical sergeant and a waist gunner on a B-17 in the 15th Air Force in World War II, flying missions mostly out of Italy. I did not know the extent of his service until I looked at his service record the day he died on my grandma's kitchen table, where it was noted that he was awarded nine bronze stars.
I knew little of his service, other than it rained a lot where he was stationed and that he had seen some combat. He did not talk about that much, either.
He did not belong to any vets organizations and did not go out of his way to let people know he served. Indeed, I had heard that he was drafted and they had to drag him into serving, but once there, he was tested and found to be a good candidate to be an aerial gunner.
But he was proud of his service. He got the alumni newsletter of the bomb group he served in (the 487th, I think it was) and in later years he found letters and photos of himself in uniform and kept them out.
When I was a kid he made me models of all different types of allied aircraft in World War II as well. Later in life he got some decorations he did not receive while in uniform and hung them in his living room.
As the World War II memorial was unveiled and speakers spoke of the ``Greatest Generation' I thought of Grandpa. He worked 30 years at Sheet & Tube and defended his country.
But none of that matters to me. Whether he served or not, he is Grandpa and I miss him.
Happy Veterans Day, Grandpa.