Mount Union, Huntingdon County, Pa- The Veterans Administration estimates there may be fewer than 500,000 World War II veterans currently alive in the United States.
Around 350 of those vets die each day. Communities across the country are paying special tribute to those men and women as they pass.
These funerals come with the reality that we soon won’t be able to speak directly to someone who fought in the battles that preserved the world as we know it today.
Friday, a highly decorated Army veteran from WW II was laid to rest in Mount Union. They call him a humble hero. WTAJ’s Evan Hinkley reports on the man gone, but not forgotten.
After serving both his lifelong home of Mount Union and abroad on the battlefields of Europe during World War II, 99-year-old Joseph Giacobello was laid to rest Friday in the Mount Union Cemetery.
Many in the community say he lived his life with courage, honor, respect, and humility… traits that will live-on for years to come.
“Somebody doesn’t just put fairy dust on you… and pop, you’re a community leader or a hero. You have to learn that from someone, you have to have an example to follow, and he was one of those examples,” said Lieutenant Colonel Fred Querry, a lifelong friend to Giacobello, and a retired Army Officer.
As a funeral processional led Joe Giacobello to his final resting place, many couldn’t help but look back on the impact he single-handedly had on the Mount Union community.
“He was a community leader, he looked after people. He tried to advance the community both economically, socially, and with all the services a community provides… and he never stopped that till the day he died,” Querry said.
Giacobello remained a leader, even when the community fell on hard times.
“Economically, it was not the best picture, however this town still had the same spirit …it was still here, and you can account a fair amount of that to Mr. Giacobello,” Querry said.
Giacobello’s grandson C.J. Booher said his grandfather’s spirit never waivered with age.
“Growing up, he was my best friend. He would take me everywhere… do everything for me. I’d be 10 years old and he’d be about 89… he’d take me out back, throw the football with me until I was ready to quit… even if he was tired,” Booher said.
Giacobello’s family said if Joe were here, he’d probably say: “Why are you making all this fuss over me?”
Humble sentiments from a hero Central Pennsylvania won’t soon forget.