RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Three soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice 75 years ago in World War II finally got the military funeral they deserved.
“Seventy-five years is a long time. I want to make sure the American people don’t forget the sacrifice,” James Pasqualini said.
As the American flag blows in the wind, those gathered at the Richmond National Cemetery came together to give three soldiers the burial they deserve.
“The 741 Tank Battalion was attacking the German positions on Hill 192 to take the high ground in order to take St. Lo, which is a key city for infrastructure,” Pasqualini said.
In Episode 6 of our podcast “How We Got Here”, we look back at that important battle that changed the direction of the war:
Pasqualini’s uncle, Frank Pasqualini, was one of the men in that battalion.
“During the battle, the first six tanks were destroyed by German fire. Three of the soldiers killed - one of them my uncle - are buried here at Richmond National Cemetery,” Pasqualini said.
There were five men inside the tank and only one survived.
Three, including Frank Pasqualini, were so badly burned they couldn’t be identified, and their remains were buried together.
“I always heard stories about the legacy of Frank Pasqualini, particularly his bravery,” Andrea Pasqualini said.
Frank is Andrea’s grandfather. She never met him, but through pictures and stories, she feels like she’s gotten to know him.
Andrea read one of her grandfather’s letters during the military ceremony.
“They will crack up one of these days and I hope it’s soon because I would love to be home for Christmas dinner,” the letter read.
Frank died before the letter arrived to his sister.
“We owe so much to all these people, and there are thousands and thousands more,” Ron Kimler said.
The ceremony hits differently for the 94-year-old Kimler, a WWII pilot stationed in Belgium.
“You don’t forget. We don’t forget," Kimler said. “Somebody who gives their life today is just as important as someone 20 years ago or 140 years old.”
As those remember the sacrifice of the three killed, Kimler says the flag blowing behind him is not from the wind, but from the last breath of the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“You can’t look at this flag and not feel anything but joy and pleasure,” Kimler said.
After the men were killed, they were first buried in France, and then brought to Richmond in 1950.
The fourth man, who was able to be identified, is still buried in France.
Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.