Veterans’ Journeys Overlap
By Joan Hellyern
Two residents of a memory care facility in Yardley, Pa., probably have crossed paths numerous times over the course of their lives, unbeknownst to them or their families until recently, according to the care facility.
Staff members at Spring Village at Floral Vale made the discovery while collecting war-time memorabilia from residents’ family members for a recent event called “Celebrating Our Veterans’ Journeys.” The community’s annual fundraiser benefited the Wounded Warrior Project, said Callista Oberholtzer, director of admissions at the care center. It included a talent show, an auction and a display of resident veterans’ memorabilia.
The family of resident Anthony J. DiMarco, 90, offered one of his World War II yearbooks from the U.S. Army’s 739th Field Artillery Battalion for the display. DiMarco was pictured with the C Battery, Fifth Ammunition Section.
Staff looked through the book and found another “familiar face,” Oberholtzer said.
Joseph F. Rueth, 89, who lives in the room next to DiMarco, was pictured a few pages away with his colleagues in the Headquarters Battery Survey Section.
The two men enlisted in the Army within a week of each other in 1943, according to the yearbook. They lived near each other on Longshore Avenue in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia, but they didn’t know each other then and really didn’t meet until about six months ago when they started rooming next to each other in the care community, Rueth said Wednesday while visiting DiMarco in his room.
When the two met, they shared memories of their time spent serving their country as World War II came to a close in Europe in the mid-1940s.
“I did a lot of artillery ghting,” DiMarco recalled. His unit was well-regarded during the war, according to Rueth. “It was tremendous. When they moved, they really moved,” he said.
Rueth, the grandson of German immigrants, said he was often called upon to talk to enemy soldiers because he spoke fluent German. One time, he was ordered to go talk to German soldiers congregating in a building that turned out to be a brothel, Rueth recalled.
He gave the soldiers an ultimatum: Put your weapons down and surrender by walking out the front of the building or leave from the rear of the building if you want to keep fighting.
“I said we wanted no shooting because there were women there,” Rueth said.
He remembers about two dozen German soldiers following his directive to walk out the front door and surrender. “I got about 25 prisoners of war that day,” he said.
Both men had war memorabilia on display at the community event. The display included military uniforms and letters that residents wrote to loved ones back home while they werein the war, Oberholtzer said.
Spring Village at Floral Vale, located in Yardley, PA is a small, quaint, village-like community specializing in Memory Care. Celebrating residents’ moments is a cornerstone of the care provided. Visit the community and see the difference.
Update: Anthony DiMarco passed away on October 7, 2014. He was 90 years old. In addition to his distinguished military service, which included receiving five battle stars and fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, Anthony was an accomplished entrepreneur in the building business. He was also a loving father and an amazing grandfather and great grandfather. His family, friends and fellow residents will miss him.
Joan Hellyern is a staff writer for the Bucks County Courier Times. This article is reprinted with permission. For local articles and information, visit www.buckscountycouriertimes.com.