NEW BRITAIN - A Berlin resident and World War II veteran of the Merchant Marines is now receiving his military pension benefits thanks to the help of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal who visited with the veteran at his home early Monday.
Sebastian Petruzzelli, who turns 99 in May, will now receive his monthly benefits at the maximum amount payable after his family reached out to Blumenthal in January for help in getting the pension application granted. The pension was applied for earlier this year shortly before the family reached out to Blumenthal.
The benefits allow him to receive income to pay the rent for his apartment and allow him to stay there in his home with a caregiver, family members and Blumenthal’s office said.
Petruzzelli should be receiving his first monthly payment within the next week, said Paul Nasella, a case worker in Blumenthal’s office who helped facilitate the pension approval.
Petruzzelli served two years as a Merchant Mariner during World War II, sailing throughout the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and Mediterranean Sea, according to Blumenthal’s office.
The Merchant Marines transport military troops, supplies and equipment overseas to U.S. forces and allies operating as an auxiliary unit to the Navy, according to United States Merchant Marine Academy.
Petruzzelli was awarded about six years ago with service medals, the World War II Victory Medal and the reading of a letter from President Harry Truman by local Coast Guard members.
“It was tough duty, we battled heavy seas, seasickness, and were constantly concerned about attacks from enemy submarines,” said Petruzzelli when he received his awards then. “I’m grateful for the Coast Guard for coming to my home and recognizing my service in the Merchant Marine.”
“He is one of our nation’s heroes,” said Blumenthal of Petruzzelli. “He is owed these benefits. It’s not a gift. He earned them.”
Blumenthal’s office said they reached out to the office processing Petruzzelli’s benefit application to speed up the process.
“We’re grateful,” said Petruzzelli’s step-son, Richard Rudolph, of Blumenthal’s help.
Blumenthal served in the Marine Corps Reserves from 1970 to 1976 and was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.