BRISTOL - Local World War II U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Iwo Jima survivor Joe Caminiti, 95, will be honored for helping a fellow World War II veteran at Saturday’s Pearl Harbor Day ceremony at American Legion Post 2.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii; the raid, which claimed some 2,400 American lives, prompted the United States to declare war against Japan the next day.
The ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at the post at 22 Hooker Court - the same time on the East Coast that Pearl Harbor was attacked. It will begin with Caminiti ringing the captain’s bell from the U.S.S. Kidd three times to honor those no longer with us.
American Legion Post 2 will conduct its opening ceremonies, followed by the POW/MIA table ceremony in honor of those still missing. Caminiti will then be honored. A picture will then be taken of all World War II veterans present, followed by a meal cooked by the Korean Veterans Association.
Caminiti traveled in 2006 with a group of Iwo Jima survivors to Norfolk, Virginia, for an Iwo Jima survivors reunion. There, he was honored on the U.S.S. Iwo Jima, which was a newly commissioned U.S. Navy ship at the time. This was done by the National Iwo Jima Survivors Association. Caminiti was presented with flag number 90 of 200 flags that flew over Iwo Jima that year and he wanted to do something special with the flag.
“After talking with the mayor, a few City Council members and a number of people that night, Joe also contacted the chairman of the Connecticut Gold Star Family Memorial Monument,” said Neal Supranovich, a local veteran.
“The flag is being loaned to the Gold Star Family Memorial Monument Committee. When the monument, which will honor Gold Star Family members, is completed, the flag will be returned to Bristol,” Supranovich said.
Arrangements will be made to fly the flag at City Hall, after which it will be presented to the Memorial Military Museum in honor of World War II veterans and those that fought at Iwo Jima.”
The Gold Star Family Memorial Monument Committee was formed by Hershel Woody Williams, who Supranovich said is the last living Medal of Honor recipient from Iwo Jima. Williams, who rode on the American Legion float at the last Rose Bowl Parade, seeks to establish a Gold Star Family Monument in each state to thank families for their enduring sacrifices and enduring that fallen heroes are not forgotten.
Supranovich said that the Connecticut monument is currently searching for a location but hopes to break ground in spring.
The chair of the Connecticut branch of the Gold Star Family Memorial Monument Committee is Gary Roy, who is the founder of the World War II Traveling Museum. The Traveling Museum has come to Pearl Harbor Day at American Legion Post 2 for the past four years.
Roy has also recently established a display at New Britain Public Library which contains a photograph of late Bristol Pearl Harbor survivor Major Ed Riccio Jr. and his airplane. This display will be up for the month of December.
The quilt signed by local World War II veterans, along with the more than 4,700 names of local WWII veterans and citations they received during the Mum Festival, will be displayed at the Pearl Harbor Day ceremony. There will also be a digital display showing pictures of the signing of the quilt at the Mum Festival. Local state and city leaders present will be asked to re-read the citations presented Sept. 20 before they are returned to the Bristol Public Library
Veterans present at the Pearl Harbor Day ceremony who have not yet signed the quilt will be allowed to sign it. This is the last signing before the quilt will be handed off to Bristol Hospital to display in honor of World War II veterans. Art Ward, representing the Bristol Veterans Council, will hand it off to John Lodovico, another combat veteran, to accept.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.