In honor of VeteranÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Day, Oswego County Hospice is proud to honor veterans for their bravery and sacrifice. Hospice wants all veterans to know that their service, dedication and patriotism have a value beyond words.
Paul Pirro is a veteran of the U.S. Army. Paul was drafted to fight in WWII in 1943. He became part of the 299th Engineer Combat Battalion. There he participated in five battles in Europe, including the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. On June 6, 1944 at 6:30 a.m. Paul and 770 other members of his Army battalion landed on the shores of Normandy to disarm mines and remove barriers facing the Allied forces during D-Day invasion of World War II. Paul remembers, the shellfire was thunderous and the cough of machine-guns vicious. Looking skyward, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d never seen so many planes. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was saying my prayers; I hope I come through this.Ã¢â‚¬Â Paul did survive this battle, although 30 percent of PaulÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s battalion did not survive D-Day. In 1972, Paul and his wife Marcia of 56 years went back to Omaha Beach, Normandy and the first thing he did was kiss the sand. Paul told his wife Ã¢â‚¬Å“I never thought IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d ever be back here. That is a day I will never forget.Ã¢â‚¬Â Paul was also in the Battle of the Bulge in the Bastogne area. The American troops were cornered on December 16, 1944, by the Germans. The battle went on for a while, the 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne had to drop supplies to the troops. Paul has received many medals, including five battle stars, one for each of the major battles he was in. He also received the American Service Medal, and the WWII Victory Medal.
Donald Kitts is a veteran of the U.S. Army. He has been married to Claudine for 63 years and is a native of Fulton. In 1941, the attacks on Pearl Harbor prompted him and several of his schoolmates to enlist in the Army. Within a year, Kitts was serving as an infantryman on the front lines of World War II. He fought some of the deadliest battles including the Battle of the Bulge. He served under Gen. George Patton and suffered several injuries, including a bullet through the mouth that cost him several teeth. He recalls a time during the war when his Bible literally saved his life. Ã¢â‚¬Å“During a battle, I got a bullet in my chest. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even know it at the time. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t realize until the next morning, when I was eating breakfast, and I went to pull out my Bible,Ã¢â‚¬Â the bullet was inside my Bible. If it hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been in my pocket, I would have lost my life.Ã¢â‚¬Â Because of Donald Kitts bravery and courage during World War II he received the Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars. His dedication and determination to his country and community did not end there. He worked as a carpenter for 40 years, helping build many local houses and businesses. Kitts also volunteered extensively, serving as a member of the Masonic Lodge, VFW, American Legion, Volney Town Supervisor, and scoutmaster for the local Boy Scout troop. Don was also very active in his religious community. Don and his wife Claudine have been members of the Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church since 1946. In May 2008, Don received one more honor, FultonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Veteran of the Year Award. The award is given to a veteran who has dedicated a lifetime of service to the Fulton Community. As Veteran of the Year, Don Kitts served as grand marshal in the Fulton Memorial Day Parade.
Thank you for all your service and sacrifice. Hospice salutes you.