Nunzio Biondello served our country from the time he was just barely 18, until he was “ushered out” at age 60. He would still be serving today if he could. He speaks with obvious pride in his voice about joining the Navy in 1942, and then a stint with the Coast Guard and finally the Air National Guard.

His memorabilia includes photographs, certificates and Honorable Discharges. Some documents from WW II were classified as Secret at that time, but were okay to share now. While the memorabilia he has is quite impressive, his memories are even more so. He reminisced about a time when war was different, when the world was different. He did not glamorize it, nor did he shy away from its ugliness. His voice was strong as he relived some moments and his tone allows you to feel some of the emotions that became a part of the event. He spoke in great length about his involvement in D-Day.

Biondello explained that after joining the Navy, he was trained as a radio operator. He was assigned to the 401, an LCI (L) which is a Land and Craft Infantry troop transport ship involved in the actual landing on D-Day. He remembers bravery and fear mixed together from one moment to the next, and his words conveyed the hectic, frustrating and formidable events for this one veteran. He pointed out that he is not a hero, that the medals he has received are from a variety of appointments to various branches and serve as recognition for what he has done.

He spoke of the men that served with him, in particular of one named Penrod who bravely volunteered to run a grappling line from the ship to shore. The LCI that they were assigned to was to hit Omaha Beach as part of the second wave. They were to deliver 260 troops on board by bringing the ship to the shore line and dropping the ramp so the troops could scramble down into the water and join the battle. Three attempts were made to get close enough to shore. They were under fire and there were barriers and debris they rammed to get closer. Other ships did not make it in as close and lost men to drowning with their full packs sinking them in the deep water – the 401 did not lose a single man.

Biondello, though assigned as the radio operator on board, was called upon to help manually lower and raise the ramp because the machinery used had been damaged in battle. He remembers the sights, sounds and events as he drifted back and described with words like savage and slaughter. He talked about the man standing beside him shoulder to shoulder who was hit with shrapnel. He described the columns of Liberty ships and also his ship being singled out at night by two German bombers, straddling the ship with five bombs and machine gun fire.

Biondello spoke with respect and with honor, not because of what he had contributed, but because of what the military had contributed to his life. He spoke of hard times following his first military career. He had stayed in the Navy an additional four months past his required time, and because of that time, all of the good jobs had been taken when he got out. He re-enlisted after a short time and never looked back with regret. The things he learned, the piece of history he witnessed, and the friends he made, could not have happened any other way.

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