By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – City officials, American Legion Post 472 members, U.S. Navy Sea Cadets and residents honored the city’s veterans Monday, with a special tribute to three local surviving World War II veterans.
The ceremony honored World War II veterans Paul Colosimo, who served in the Navy, Ruth Grier, who served in the Army medical corp, and Gerald Lustila, who served in the U.S. Army Infantry.
Colosimo, 99, was born during World War I and served during World War II. He entered the Navy in 1943, and served on the Naval Command Ship USS Adirondack (AGC-15), a floating command post with advanced communications equipment. Part of his job was to keep the radar, sonar and radio operating properly.
His ship headed for the Pacific, but en route the war ended, and they were sent to Norfolk, Va., then to the Great Lakes Training Center in Chicago for discharge.
His three brothers, Charlie, Frank and Eugene, who served in the Army during World War II, also survived the war.
Colosimo was married to his wife, Kathryn “Kay,” before he entered the service, and their daughter Marilyn was born in 1944. Their daughter Rosemary was born in 1946, and son James in 1951. They have six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He and Kay were married for 68 years when she died in February 2012.
Colosimo still repairs vintage radios at his business, Paul’s Radio and Television Repair Shop, 18573 Allen Road. He started the business in 1949 in another Melvindale location, and built his current building in 1954.
Colosimo acknowledged the veterans in attendance.
“A great thanks to the ones who gave their all,” Colsimo said. “At that time, we did what we had to do, and the country survived.”
Grier, 92, was trained by the Army as an x-ray technician, and served from 1944 to 1946 at a military hospital in Boston. She was introduced by her son Rico Grier, an Air Force veteran, who was recognized for his four years of service near the end of the Vietnam War.
Lustila, 95, served in the US Army in the 8th Infantry Division of the Golden Arrow. He served in England, then in Belgium, then in Germany until they met up with the Russian Allied forces. He was then sent stateside to prepare for the invasion of Japan, which never occurred.
Mayor Stacy Bazman said Lustila jokingly told her that the real “war zone” was back home, where the women on the home front had gone four years without the men.
“He said ‘all the soldiers were sitting ducks with the ladies,’” Bazman said.
Lustila married his wife, Margaret, on May 31, 1946, and they moved from the Upper Peninsula to Melvindale, where, using the GI Bill, they bought a home on Blanche Street, where they raised three boys and three girls, and where he still lives today. He has eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Student speaker Marketea Abbott said veterans need to be recognized and appreciated.
“Today is one day out of 365 days that the world celebrates the service and reminisces the lives of those who died in active duty,” Abbott said. “In my daily life, I do not think of those who are currently fighting for me and my loved ones. I rarely sit back and appreciate all that they do.”
She said simple gestures and kindness are important to veterans, who often go unnoticed.
“So today, Memorial Day, I would like to thank those who do not hear it very often,” Abbott said. “I want you to know that I am thankful for all that you have done.”
She said veterans serve the country despite their fears for their families and losing their lives.
“They put all that behind them and still serve and fight for us all here today,” she said. “I admire the fact that every veteran gave all that they did for people they did not even know.
“They did not hide behind their fears or shy away from a fight. They took on that role and put on their shield of faith and fought for this country.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)