P.S. 108 honors late WWII vet Garofalo on Veterans Day

Students at P.S. 108 sing to honor U.S. veterans as part of the school’s Veterans Day Program
Photo Courtesy of Robert Christie

Students, faculty and their families from P.S. 108 hosted an event for veterans and their loved ones on Veterans Day.

Attendees gathered in the school’s cafeteria as students sang and read short literary pieces they wrote to honor those that served.

In addition, students asked veterans questions about their service and also got the chance to hear from retired U.S. Marines veteran Ron Watson.

Finally, the students and faculty honored the late WWII veteran Joseph Garofalo who passed away in March at the age of 95.

Garofalo had been an important part of the community, running the Bronx Veterans Museum and contributing every year to P.S. 108’s Veterans Day festivities.

As part of the tribute, Mike Tierney – a former engineer at the school and coordinator for the Veteran’s Day event, showed a documentary film honoring Garofalo and the museum.

In addition, the faculty presented Garofalo’s family with a plaque for his service.

“He was the first guy I met when I did this project,” said Tierney. “He had an immediate impact on me.”

Tierney said the first time he met Garofalo was at the museum.

“He showed me some of the artifacts he had gathered during his time in the service,” Tierney continued. “We got to speaking and he was passionate about every veteran.”

Tierney said his original goal for the documentary was to focus on just WWII veterans but Garofalo would not allow him to forget veterans from later wars.

Garofalo was a native Bronx resident who grew up on Prospect Avenue in the south Bronx before enlisting in the Army.

At age 22 he served from 1942 to 1945 as a petty officer second class for the Navy’s Seabees 121st Naval Construction Battalion attached to the fourth Marine division.

Whilst in the Navy he participated in the battles of Saipan and Tinian in the Mariana Islands and the Battle of Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands.

Garofalo, along with his longtime friend Angelo Pinto, opened up the museum in the John Dormi and Sons Funeral Home in 1999.

Tierney recalled how Garofalo spent many hours showing students the various artifacts in the museum and how the WWII vet “never got tired” of the children.

“He meant a lot to the school and he was big in the community,” said Tierney. “He was involved in everything.”

P.S. 108 principal Charles Sperrazza, while giving the program’s final remarks, also recalled the effect Garofalo had on his life.

“Joe was a good friend of mine,” he said. “It was always a pleasure to have him come out and listen to the stories.”

“I appreciate what he did for the country and for the school and his legacy lives on,” he added. “It lives on in the children and in the hearts of people.”

As for the entire Veterans Day program, Tierney felt the day was a success.

“It’s great to be apart of a school that recognizes the importance and the value of teaching our students about our veterans,” he said.

Sparrazza said the school hopes to grow the veterans program “bigger and better every year.”

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at rchristie@cnglocal.com.

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