Canal Walk Veterans Honor Their Last WW II Soldier

World War II veteran Frank DeLuca, seated, with Canal Walk Veterans Club commander Sam Pesci and Bob LaCorte, left to right.

Frank DeLuca once surprised his family while they were eating dinner, returning home to Elizabeth after serving three years in the Army during World War II.

On December 8, 76 years later, it was DeLuca who was surprised by his family members during a meal, the annual Canal Walk Veterans Club luncheon at Pheasants Landing in Hillsborough.

The reason for the familial visit was that DeLuca, the Veterans Club’s last member who served in World War II under Gen. George Patton, was being honored for his service.

“I was very shocked to see my family here,” DeLuca said. I never expected it. It caught me a little off-guard.”

DeLuca’s story almost ended one cold winter day in Germany’s Black Forest when he was wounded by a German sniper.

“He blew out my shoulder,” DeLuca said, pointing to his right shoulder.

DeLuca found himself behind enemy lines when German troops pushed U.S. forces back for a while, he said.

“They were kicking bodies to see who was alive,” DeLuca said.

But U.S. troops pushed back, and, after laying in the snow for about an hour and a half, DeLuca found himself being loaded into an Army jeep.

But he was not yet out of danger.

“They were shooting mortars at the jeep,” he said.

DeLuca and his rescuers reached a field hospital, where he was operated on immediately, he said.

That was followed by six months of recuperation before he was discharged and able to surprise his family during dinner.

“They were so glad to see me,” he said.

Two weeks later, DeLuca found himself working with his father in the local Ballantine brewery, where he stayed until his retirement at age 72.

Sam Pesci, the Canal Walk Veterans Club commander, said the club felt it was important to honor DeLuca.

“He’s the last World War II veteran that we have in our club,” Pesci said.

During the luncheon, DeLuca was presented with proclamations and commendations from township Mayor Phil Kramer, state Assemblyman Joe Danielsen and U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman.

The awards were procured by Franklin resident Bob LaCorte.

“I want to thank them very much for what they did,” LaCorte said.

Now, having just turned 98, DeLuca said he wishes that “everything continues the way it’s going. I still have my health.”

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