Joseph Arnaldo American Hero
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Staff Sergeant Joseph "Sonny" Arnaldo

I never knew my uncle Sonny, but for some reason he had never been part of my family’s life. Therefore, when he passed away, I was not intending to go to the funeral. My mom, however, expressed a desire to have someone join her. I agreed and prepared for the trip to New Bedford.

It is not that I did not know about him. I had been brought up with stories of him both as a mischievous child running about declaring that he had “peanut butter muscles”, and of his time during the war. I new that post-war, his injuries had left him unable to earn a good living, and that he was often in and out of VA hospitals.

I have always had a strong love for military history, reading such books as Guadalcanal Diary, The Battle of Midway, Tarawa Atoll, and others during high school. As we drove the hour to New Bedford, my mother spoke about Sonny and I began to have a vision of a decorated war hero; a man whose photograph had appeared all over the world, a soldier who was a recipient of the Purple Heart, Bronze Medal and others medals. He would certainly have an honorable and well attended wake and funeral.

As I entered the funeral parlor and his viewing room, I was overwhelmed by the emptiness. There was no wife or children, no friends, and no visitors,other than a few family members. I had no choice but to sit and stare at the flag draped over his coffin and wonder how a hero's life could have ended this way and how the memory of Sonny and his deeds were about to fade away forever.

I resolved that day to always honor my uncle’s memory and that of all the men and women who have served in the military; to never fail to recognize and thank our service men and women whenever possible; to never fail to remind family and friends that all they have has come from the sacrifice of many young men and women, often an ultimate sacrifices, to thank my nephew Brendon, now serving in the Air Force, and to tell him how proud I am of him.

This website is my tribute to my uncle Sonny and all service men and women who have made the freedoms I enjoy possible. It is dedicated to my grandmother and mother, whose stories have kept my uncle's life alive in my heart and soul.

Mitchell Williams 12/24/2009

Yank cover. Uncle Sonny in plan clothes and a car. Sonny with wife. Time Life cover photo of Sonny.
© 2010 Mitchell Williams / email editor