newsdog Facebook

Bristol American Legion Post To Mark Pearl Harbor Day

Hartford Courant 2017-12-05 20:10:00

The American Legion Seicheprey Post 2 on Thursday is honoring all who served in World War II, with a special tribute to those who were at Pearl Harbor.

At 11 a.m., the American Legion will ring a ship’s bell in recognition of the deadly attack 76 years ago that brought the United States into the war.

“We honor all veterans from World War II, but we always do it on Pearl Harbor Day itself,” said Neal Supranovich, historian for Post 2.

The American Legion invites all WWII veterans to attend each year, and 24 made the trip last December. But Supranovich acknowledged that the numbers are dwindling as the generation advances through its 90s.

“We lost eight last year just from my post alone,” he said. “We have a lot of World War II veterans in Bristol. In 2007 there were 507 still living here — we don’t know the number now, but we’re losing them. And some of them who are in nursing homes can’t get here unless a family member brings them.”

The American Legion invites the public to the ceremony at its post at 22 Hooker Court.

For many years, Edward Riccio Jr. was at the center of the annual event. He was Bristol’s last known Pearl Harbor survivor. Riccio’s story of escaping alive that day — and going on to heroics during the war — made him one of Connecticut’s most honored Pearl Harbor survivors.

Obituary: MAJ. EDWARD J. RICCIO JR. »

“I was just a guy doing his job like so many others in World War II. I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time - and was lucky to survive," he said in 2014 at at the Golden Kielbasa Veterans Open, a golf tournament to benefit veterans causes.

Riccio died in 2016 at age 96. Supranovich said the American Legion post wants to keep alive his story for future generations.

Riccio was in the Army Air Corps at Hickam Field in Honolulu on Pearl Harbor Day. He was leaving his barracks as the Japanese bombs fell, and was one of only a few who made it out of the building alive. Nearly 190 airmen and civilians were killed at Hickam, 303 were wounded and more than 50 U.S. warplanes were destroyed or knocked out of service.

Riccio went on to become a gunner with a B-17 crew, and famously landed a crippled bomber after the pilot and co-pilot were both killed. He was seriously injured, but returned to duty to become a pilot and after the war served in the Army Reserves for 25 years.

Manchester Elks hosts a luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the lodge at 30 Bissell Street, Manchester. Connecticut’s oldest surviving Pearl Harbor veteran, Floyd Welch, will be honored. The Elks will also provide a warm meal, clothing and personal care items to more than 250 veterans.

The Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven will be lit in red, white, and blue Wednesday and in remembrance.