Normandy Veterans Honor Comrade Who Died Homeless
QUINCY, Mass. (AP) _ Chris Buscemi survived the fury of the Normandy invasion only to die four decades later, alone and penniless, sleeping in a parking garage in this Boston suburb.
He was buried with full military honors, but his old comrades want to do more. In his name, they are donating hundreds of dollars to a shelter for the homeless.
″When I saw the story, I read it and read it, and I had tears in my eyes. Something inside me said we should do something to show how we felt,″ said Andrew Spagnuolo of Akron, Ohio, who is organizing the fund-raising drive among veterans of Battery A of the 411th Army Gun Battalion.
Spagnuolo, 64, was responding to a report in The Patriot Ledger of Quincy describing Buscemi’s death in early December. He mailed copies of the story to 48 members of Battery A around the country and has received donations from 22 of them so far, along with some handwritten testimonials.
Edgar Gusley, an Indiana man in his 70s, wrote that Buscemi was ″one of the Lord’s noble men who should be commended by those who were his comrades in arms in time of war.
″Our faith and love of our fellow man are renewed and strengthened,″ he wrote to Spagnuolo.
To date, Spagnuolo has raised $320, which he plans to donate to the Interfaith Shelter for the homeless in Quincy Center in Buscemi’s memory.
Nancy Powers of the Quincy Salvation Army, who serves as executive director of the coalition that runs the shelter, said she was gratified by the donation.
Buscemi, known simply as ″Chris″ to most of his acquaintances in Quincy, lived without a home for the last five years of his life. He died two months ago at age 63.
In better times, he had a family and earned a living as a construction worker. In those years, he regularly attended reunions with other gunners who helped take Utah Beach during the Allied invasion of France in June 1944.
For unknown reasons, he stopped attending the reunions and began living on the streets. Often his home was made of two blankets arranged against the concrete walls of a parking garage.
He was buried with military honors at Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth on Cape Cod.
Spagnuolo said Buscemi was not forgetten by the men who served with him. He cited a note he received from John Fawns of Hamilton, Ohio, describing Buscemi as a man who ″truly had a Christian spirit of giving whatever he had to others.″
Fawns wrote, ″He surely made all of us realize how lucky we are to have shelter and food.″