“Doc” Blaney joined the Army on his 18th birthday in 1943. Trained as a medic and a paratrooper, he parachuted near Utah Beach during the D-Day invasion at Normandy; he would spend the next six days treating the wounded in an old chapel. He was also at the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he joined the Air Force, and served during the Korean War in photo intelligence.
“Pat” Flynn joined the Army in 1943, wanting to join the 10th Mountain Division as a skier. Instead, he was trained for combat infantry. He served with the 157th Infantry Regiment, and saw action in Italy and France. After the war, he stayed a civilian for about a year before rejoining the Army for another 20 years. Flynn would see action in Korea with the 9th Infantry Regiment, and in Vietnam as part of the Special Forces.
Interview conducted by James Ramsey
Kevin Strel left a halfway house in New York City at the age of 17 to join the Army. Trained as a medic, Strel would be sent to Korea as part of the 9th Infantry Regiment. For the next year, he would rotate between patrolling the DMZ and being on base treating personnel and Korean civilians. He would finish his three-year enlistment at Fort Dix and Fort Devens.
Arthur Robert was a second lieutenant with the 403rd Civil Affairs Company when his unit was deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm. Robert would end up in Kuwait City organizing the transport of supplies. Robert would later serve with the Mass. National Guard, retiring in 2005 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Arthur Kovacs had finished two years’ study in civics engineering at the University of Buffalo, as well as some time in Haiti as a medical missionary, when he was drafted into the Army in 1970. He started out being trained to handle mortars, but soon transferred to clerk school. After basic, he was sent to West Germany, where he worked as a legal clerk in Frankfort. He was discharged in 1972.
Raffael deGruttola enlisted in the Army in 1953, shortly after graduating from Somerville High School. Because of his talents as a musician, he earned a spot in the 18th U.S. Army Band in Fort Devens. He would also earn a spot in the 1st U.S. Army Band in New York City, as well as attending the Naval School of Music Conservatory in Washington, D.C.
Mario Aiello grew up in Readville (part of the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston) and was drafted into the Army in 1942. He became a Technician 5th Grade, and was part of the 5th Army’s 75th Field Artillery Battalion. Aiello saw action in North Africa and Italy, and would earn a Bronze Star.
This interview was conducted with Aiello’s son, Stephen Duggan, at the Bedford VA Medical Center.
George Palmer joined the Navy in 1967 to “see the world” and because he “didn’t like walking in the jungle.” He served as a Fireman E-3 at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, Vietnam and Seattle, Wash. While in Vietnam, he repaired small boats, including PVR, or “swift” boats.
This interview was recorded at the Bedford VA Medical Center.
Arnold Bopp joined some friends and enlisted into the Army in 1954. He served for 20 years in the Army’s Security Agency as a teletype operator and teletype interceptor. He served twice in Alaska, as well as Berlin, Fort Devens and Vietnam.
“Fred” Lucontoni was drafted into the Army in 1943, and served in General George Patton’s 3rd Army, 733 Field Artillery Service Battery, as a machine gunner. He remembered seeing “thousands of planes” flying overhead en route to a bombing mission at St. Lo in France; Lucontoni also took part in the Battle of the Bulge.
This interview was recorded at the Bedford VA Medical Center by James Ramsey.