Remembering those who served
|Allie Galetti displays the Purple Heart awarded to her uncle, Harold (Joseph) Lucas after he was killed during World War II. Galetti keeps his Purple Heart along with photos and other military memorabilia of both her family and her husband, Jim Galetti’s, family. (BCR photo/Barb Kromphardt)|
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SEATONVILLE — It’s almost a sacred space, this corner of Allie Galetti’s Seatonville home.
The walls in the living room — one to the left of the door and another to the right — bear the photos and maps and letters telling the stories of men who proudly served their country.
Galetti’s been working on the Galetti side of the wall for a long time.
“My husband was in the military, and I was with him when he was in Germany in 1959-60,” she said.
Jim Galetti is one of the eight Galetti brothers who all served in the military. In addition to photos of them, there are also framed articles about Dom Rochetto of Spring Valley, a Galetti cousin, and newer photographs of Allie and Jim’s grandson Timothy, who is still serving.
On the other wall hangs photos of Galetti’s family members, her great-uncle George Bell, who fought in World War I, and her uncle, Harold (Joseph) Lucas, who was killed in World War II. Lucas’ Purple Heart is also on display, as well as his original obituary, his dog tags, and a letter written by his commander after his death.
According to the letter, dated Jan. 18, 1945, “Your son was one of the most popular men in his company. His good nature won many close friends among his fellow soldiers. He was a man upon whom officers and men could rely in any situation. He never let any of his companions down when the going was hard and difficult.”
Lucas, who was a member of the 5th Armored Division, 46th Armored Infantry Battalion, was “engaged against the enemy in Germany on 16 December 1944. The mission had been successful. Positions were changed, and it was during this time that he was hit by mortar fire.”
Lucas was evacuated but died of his wounds shortly thereafter and was temporarily buried in Luxembourg.
Lucas’ body was eventually returned to the United States, and Galetti has the original bill from the Barto and Linnig Funeral Home for $132.
The memorabilia hanging on the Lucas side of the wall is a recent addition to Galetti’s home. Her aunt gave her some things before she died in February, and the family gave Galetti the rest of the items after she died.
“The cousins and my aunt thought that it should come to me instead of any of the other relatives because I was interested,” Galetti said.
Galetti said she was overwhelmed when her cousin called to say they had decided the items should go to her.
“I started crying, and I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” she said. “It just means the world to me.”
Galetti said she feels a special connection to the uncle who died when she was only a few years old.
“That’s another connection because I was told that I was his favorite niece,” she said.
Galetti said her love of family history probably comes from attending Memorial Day services as a child.
“We’re brought up as kids with that,” she said.
But it also probably dates back to a piece of petrified wood given to her by her father, James Lucas.
“Like right now, there were no jobs, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt had jobs for different people,” Galetti said.
Lucas was sent to Portland, Ore., as part of the Civilian Conservative Corps to build roads, and he returned home with the piece of wood. His photo also hangs in a place of honor on Galetti’s wall.
“Yes, I think it probably all started with my father’s petrified wood,” Galetti said.
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