70 Years Later, Recognition For A Veteran

By on June 28, 2015

The Warriors Watch riders were escorted on Bloomfield Avenue by Verona's Police, Fire and Rescue Squad, as well as Scouts.

The Warriors Watch Riders were escorted on Bloomfield Avenue by Verona’s Police, Fire and Rescue Squad, as well as Scouts.

It has been a long time since Verona’s veterans returned home from World War II. A very, very long time. But those 70 years faded into the distance this Sunday morning as one Verona veteran got a hero’s welcome for his service so many years ago.

Warriors Watch Riders led a group that included Verona’s Police and Fire Departments, Rescue Squad, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts up Bloomfield Avenue to salute Joseph Ruggiero, who had served as a U.S. Army combat medic under General George Patton. From 1942 through the end of the war, Ruggiero was with the 1st Infantry Division in North Africa before moving with the Seventh United States Army and Fifth United States Army in Italy, where he met the woman who would become his wife. Ruggiero, now 95 and a Verona resident since 1947, earned seven service stars for his efforts during the war.

WWII veteran Joseph Ruggiero (right) with Manny Alfonso, who organized the Warriors Watch ride in his honor.

WWII veteran Joseph Ruggiero (right) with Manny Alfonso, who organized the Warriors Watch ride in his honor.

Warriors Watch is a nationwide group that provides motorcycle escorts for individual servicemen and women and their units who are deploying and returning home, sometimes many years after returning home, as was the case with Ruggiero, who was one of seven brothers to serve in World War II.

The five dozen people who turned out also honored Ruggiero family veterans Neil Ruggiero (far right) and Michael DiMaio (in blue).

The five dozen people who turned out also honored Ruggiero family veterans Neil Ruggiero (far right) and Michael DiMaio (in blue).

At Ruggiero’s home, the Scouts led the pledge of allegiance and Warriors Watch presented the veteran with a proclamation and a commemorative coin. Then every one of the five dozen friends, family members and escorts filed by Ruggiero and thanked him for his service. Warriors Watch also honored two family members who were also veterans, Neil Ruggiero, who served in the U.S. Navy, and Michael DiMaio, a Vietnam veteran, as well as Verona Police Officer John Lecreux, who served in Iraq.

Ruggiero family members gathered to honor their patriarch.

Ruggiero family members gathered to honor their patriarch.

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