On this Veteran’s Day, we thought it would be nice to look back at some stories we’ve previously published, to commemorate the service of three local World War II veterans.
Dr. Joseph V. Petrucci, a Fremont Place resident, was awarded the Legion of Honor, the highest honor given by France, for his service in D-Day in World War II, at the French consulate in San Francisco on Feb. 9, 2016. Petrucci, a decorated veteran, recalled the events of the invasion in a wonderful interview with Sierra Sun, saying he was thankful to have lived a full life denied to so many on that day.
Petrucci was just 22 years old when he served as a wire chief for telephone and telegraph with the 294th JASCO (Joint Assault Signal Company) unit, which was among the second wave to hit Omaha Beach early D-Day morning.
In 2015, Joe was accorded France’s highest honor when he was named a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour by French President Francois Holland for his service to France on D-Day. He received the Legion of Honour medal from Consul General Pauline Carmona at a ceremony at the French Consulate in San Francisco in the presence of his wife, children, grandchildren, and friends. In addition, he was thrice presented with medals at the Normandy American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, where he was honored in 2007 to “retire the colors” – lowering the cemetery’s American flag at “Taps” – accompanied by his family. He passed away in 2015 at the age of 95.
In May 2018, we wrote about Windsor Square resident Julian “Bud”Rice, who had the ceremonial honor of throwing the first pitch at a Dodger Game. Lt. Julian “Bud”Rice, served as a US Army Air Fore Pilot in World War II, piloting the C-47 pilot transport for the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron. Rice, along with 800 other pilots, participated in D-Day, providing air cover for troops on the ground (like Joe Petrucci’s). Rice flew more than 700 daily transport and combat missions during the War.
Rice was interviewed by Tom Brokaw as part of NBC’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day in 2014. Rice, like Petrucci, was 22 years old when he flew a C-47 in the D-Day invasion, his mission to drop 21 paratroopers into France.
Rice passed away on August 4, 2019 at the age of 98.
If you, like this writer, are lucky enough to still have a World War II veteran in your family, it’s also nice day to celebrate their service to our country. My dad, Rocci Lombard, is 98 now. He was drafted into the Army Air Force, where he was trained as a crew member on B-29 aircraft and served in the Pacific Theatre in Okinawa.
For those veterans who are younger and more mobile, it might be fun to check out the newly refurbished theater at the famed Hollywood American Legion Post 43 for a Veterans Day screening of Philip Kaufman’s acclaimed 1983 film, “The Right Stuff.” Based on Tom Wolfe’s bestseller, the epic chronicles the early years of the U.S. race to space, and the test pilots and astronauts who risked their lives to get us there, reported the Los Angeles Times today.
The screening is also being presented by the American Cinematheque and will feature a conversation with director Phillip Kaufman and film historian and writer Alan K. Rode.
Veterans Day Screening of “The Right Stuff”
7: 30 p.m. Monday, November 11, 2019
Hollywood American Legion Post 43, 2035 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles
$15-$35 (VIP package)
Visit rightstuff.brownpapertickets.com for more information.