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My Hero

Tony Pellegrino, one of the Greatest Generation
     My hero was killed in action, one of 416,000 lost in World War II. I’m sure there were thousands of others who lost their heroes during the war. Before the last of the Greatest Generation join them, I want to tell Pelli’s story. 
     My western Pennsylvanian village of about 300 had an adult baseball team. My uncle John was the team manager. The ballfield was near our house, and I was constantly there with my uncle, so I got to know all the players very well. Our best player was a husky guy named Tony Pellegrino. Everybody called him Pelli. Our ace pitcher, he played center field in the games when he did not pitch. Naturally Pelli was my hero. I was seven years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941.
  After Pearl Harbor Day, nearly all of the players enlisted in the military. Pelli went into the Army. Before he was deployed, in May 1942, he sent my uncle a postcard from Fort Bragg. My uncle kept the card for many years and gave it to me just before he died in 1953 because he knew how much I idolized Pelli. I laminated the card and still have it. 
      The card says:
 
Hello John,
Still plugging along and hoping that we three can all get back soon for a little visit. Haven’t much time for ball playing but just a little so I won’t forget what little I know. Tell all the family I said hello and hope to see you all soon. Bill and Sam said hello.
–Pelli
 
     I do not know if Pelli got back home before shipping overseas. I think Sam was Sam Demaio and Bill was Bill Cain, who were also from my hometown. I knew both of them well and they survived the war.
     My hero was killed in action in France.