Thursday, July 25, 2013

#85) A Belated Purple Heart For John Guarino - WWII Vet

Forward - Les Urban wrote the following story about John Guarino's interesting life, including John's experience when, last month, the Army presented him with a Purple Heart for his World War II combat injuries. 

If you would like to thank John for his military service, you may contact him at: jguarino1925@yahoo.com. You may also leave a Comment at the end of this Blog Post.


John Guarino is a long time Libravet with a 28 year tenure with the Company. He hired into the Quality Control Dept in 1961. Shortly thereafter he advanced to the Art Dept. where he stayed till his retirement in 1989.

John’s Military career began in March 1944, when he was inducted into the Army. He likes to tell people he was a passenger on the Luxury Liner, The Queen Mary in November 1944. But this was with 14,000 others after it was converted into a Troop Transport Ship. It was not long thereafter that he would be seeing Military Action.

In the Winter of 1944/1945 John Guarino was with the 17th Airborne Parachute Infantry Regiment. He was stationed in Luxemburg during the campaign known as The Battle of the Bulge. He spent numerous nights in foxholes in what was considered the coldest winter in over 100 years. John’s feet eventually became frozen to the point he was completely immobilized while facing the enemy. This met all the criteria for receiving the Purple Heart.

There was a Military Facility on the outskirts of St. Louis which housed an assortment of the Army’s historical records, including recipients of awards for distinguished service. An enormous fire broke out sometime after the War destroying over 16 million documents, among which was John Guarino’s award for the Purple Heart.

Fortunately, due to the marvels of modern technology, many of these records were restored to a legible state. In June of 2013,. an Army Captain knocked on John’s door, with a Purple Heart in hand. He of course apologized for the long delay. In addition, he presented John with another Medal for participating in Military campaigns in what was known at that time as The European - African Theater of Operations. The Captain respectfully gave John a salute after his presentation.

John also has an assortment of five Medals awarded him for distinguished service in the Military during his tour of duty.

John Guarino is an unpretentious man who makes friends very easily. During his civilian life, he has met many prominent people in the entertainment world, as well as the sports arena.

In a four year stint at MGM Studios, he got to know virtually all the Stars under contract at that time In particular; he developed a close friendship with Fernando Lamas and Robert Taylor. In his home, there is a montage of wall mounted autographed photos taken of him with many of the Stars.

Vic Damone, the popular singer for many decades, is one of John’s closest and dearest friends. They attended Lafayette High School together, and lived in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn. When Damone was awarded a Hollywood Contract to do a film, he asked John to come with him. John turned down the offer. He did accept a subsequent offer and moved out to California. They remained close friends through the years, till time and illness caught up with both of them. In Vic Damone’s autobiography, he mentions John Guarino as being one of the people who were most influential in his life.

John has been an avid St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan since 1934. In 1989 he went on a cruise sponsored by the Cardinals. There he met Al Hrabosky, a pitcher, better known as “the mad Hungarian”. They developed a close friendship and John would often go to St Louis to watch him play. After Al’s retirement, he became the TV color announcer for all of the Cardinal’s games. When ever the Cardinals were in town to play the Dodgers, John would sit up in the announcer’s booth to watch the games. They are still close friends, but John’s recent illness has limited his activities.


2 comments:

  1. Hi John,
    Words alone cannot thank you enough for your brave service to our country. We will always be grateful,
    Carl

    ReplyDelete
  2. Received the following e-mail from Lila Reynolds:

    "Thanks for the memories. I worked in building 2 with John and knew him well. We were friends. My daughter Cindy Kramer worked in the art dept.with John."

    ReplyDelete