Friday, August 17, 2007

In Honor Of Victor Andreozzi



Bridge named in honor of Victor Patrick Andreozzi and all Vietnam War veterans

Cpl. Andreozzi's father, Victor Andreozzi Sr., and sister, Louise St. Angelo, hold an American flag which was presented to them after Cpl. Andreozzi was killed in Vietnam.
BARRINGTON - You never really die if your memory is alive. This sentiment was the overlying theme at Saturday's bridge dedication in honor of Lance Corporal Victor Patrick Andreozzi — the first Barrington resident killed in Vietnam. More than 100 friends, family and various dignitaries attended the dedication, many of them visibly emotional as the short life of the courageous young man was recounted.

The eldest son of Victor Andreozzi and the late Jean Andreozzi, Cpl. Victor Patrick Andreozzi was a father figure to his six siblings. Growing up on Bowden Avenue, the Andreozzi children would often swim, fish and dig clams in the Barrington River. John Andreozzi, the youngest member of the family recalls jumping off the White Church bridge with his siblings. "Victor would be in the water and tell me to jump and I would. I was maybe 5 or 6 and it was definitely a leap of faith. He was the only one who could get me to jump off that bridge. Victor was our safety net, our security blanket," he said.

The plaque which bears Cpl. Andreozzi's name and all Vietnam veterans was unveiled at the ceremony by family members will be displayed on the bridge when it is completed. Rhode Island Department of Transportation officials say the expected completion date is late summer 2007.
The family fought hard to get the dedication approved by the state and town officials and chose to hold the dedication now so the family patriarch, Victor Sr. could be in attendance. "Our father is 84 years old and we wanted him to be a part of this special event," said Victoria Arrone, sister of Cpl. Andreozzi.

Remembering a hero :
A handsome, green-eyed Irish Catholic, Cpl. Andreozzi was a serious young man who is described as honest and full of integrity by his brother Ernest.
"Victor was the son everybody wanted. God and county, that was what he was all about." Ernest recalled his brother's love for his sportscar, an MGA Midget Roadster. "When he would come home on leave, even if it was during the winter, he'd take us for rides with the top down. He loved that car," Ernest said.

Louise St. Angelo has similar memories of her big bother and was the driving force behind the bridge dedication. "Our family scattered after Victor died and our mother's death two years later. This is so emotional for me because my brother was such a special person who sacrificed for his family and for his country," Ms. St. Angelo said.

She recalled the time when while climbing trees — another family favorite activity — she fell out and her brother was the first one to help her.
"He was right there and the first one to pick me up to see if I was all right. He was always there for all of us," she said.

On September 21, 1967, the Andreozzi family was forever changed.
Cpl. Andreozzi enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1964 just after he turned 18. During his four years in the service, he traveled the globe with tours in Spain, Italy, France, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. In the summer of 1967, he was sent to Hawaii to train for deployment in Vietnam. This was an exciting time for the 21-year old rifleman and squad leader. He had just asked his girlfriend Sharon, also a Marine, to marry him and he was happy to go and fight for his country. The couple planned to marry after his return from Vietnam.

He was assigned with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment of the 3rd Marine Division, Fox 2-4, also known as the "Magnificent Bastards."
Cpl. Andreozzi received the Bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts, National Defense Service Ribbon, Marine Corps Combat Ribbon and the Vietnam Service Ribbon.

When news of his death reached his family in Barrington, there was a feel of disbelief, anger and profound sadness. Gus Morelli, a first cousin, said he didn't believe Victor was killed until he saw his name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. in 1986. "I always expected him to come home. He was an empathetic and caring guy. A lot of responsibility was thrust upon him being the oldest. He always took control of the herd and never wavered," Mr. Morelli said after the dedication.

The program at the hour-long ceremony included a speech by guest of honor retired Col. Stephen M. McCartney, USMC. "It is said that when a Marine is killed he (or she) is reporting in to St. Peter to get orders for the next duty station. Cpl. Andreozzi is looking down on us from heaven," he said.

Victor Andreozzi Sr. often wiped tears from his eyes during the program and held the hand of daughter Louise. "My son was a good man and is missed beyond words," he said.

Other family members in attendance included many nieces and nephews cousins and friends. Brothers Jerry and Robert Andreozzi were unable to attend.

Following the ceremony, guests were invited to Ms. St. Angelo's home for refreshments. "Now we can go and celebrate Victor's life and share memories of my brother," she said.

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