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NYPD Officer gives WWII Marine final respects

I'll give you the prerequisite tearjerker warning for this one. An NYPD officer "adopts" a WWII Marine so that he won't have to spend his final days alone:

Sometimes when old Marines die they do fade away into unmarked graves in Potter's Field.

Such might have been the case for Gaspar Musso, USMC 925050, who fought in the Battle of Tinian in the Marianas Islands in 1944 and who died Nov. 15 at age 84 in a Brooklyn nursing home.

Enter Police Officer Susan Porcello, a PBA delegate at the 68th Precinct in Bay Ridge and one of those big-hearted New Yorkers who still make this the best city on Earth.

"No way was I going to let this brave old Marine who fought for his country in WWII get buried in Potter's Field," she says.

... "When my partner, Eddie Ennis, and I arrived at his apartment Gaspar seemed a little bit down about himself," Porcello says. "He said he felt alone in the world. We talked to him a bit and as I looked around his tidy apartment I noticed that he had served in the military - the Marines to be exact."

Porcello asked him about family and friends. "Look around you, what do you see?" Musso said. "I have no family or friends."

To which Porcello said, "Well, I'm your friend."

... "I told him I'd be back to visit him and take him to a senior center where he could make some friends," said Porcello, who comes from a big Italian family with a mom, dad, three sisters and a brother.

"I told him I was making him my 'Grandpa,' and if he liked, he could spend Thanksgiving with my family. Eddie and I discussed alternating holidays with Gaspar so he wouldn't be alone for any of them."

Two days later Musso was placed in critical care. Porcello asked hospital staff where he'd be buried if he didn't make it. "Potter's Field," said one administrator.

"This infuriated me," said Porcello. "There was no way I was going to let a man who fought for our country be buried in Potter's Field. Not on my watch!"

Porcello told the hospital to keep her apprised of Musso's condition. She had a local priest visit him. Porcello even asked NYPD's Missing Person's Squad to search for next of kin.

No luck.

Musso had been an only child to Anthony and Marie Musso, both deceased. He had no other relatives. Musso's only friend, an upstairs neighbor, had died the year before.

... She transferred him to Caton Park Nursing Home, where he was treated extremely well. She visited him often, learning that Musso was born May 7, 1924, joined the USMC in December 1943, finished training at Camp Lejune in March 1944 and was fighting with the 2nd Marines on Tinian Island by July 1944.

"I visited Gaspar on Nov. 13, bringing him rosary beads, a Bible, and his reading glasses," she said.

"The next day, Nov. 14, I returned and found Gaspar sitting up in a chair, dressed in his own clothes. Looking great."

Porcello washed his hands and face, trimmed his nails and eyebrows and asked if he was coming to her house for Thanksgiving. "I'm trying!" he said. He also asked Porcello to bring him a Christmas wreath for his room.

The next morning Porcello received a phone call saying that Gaspar Musso had died peacefully in his sleep.

No way was she going to let her good friend be toe-tagged and buried in Potter's Field.

Porcello paid out of her own pocket for a wake at McLaughlin's on Third Ave. and a mass at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Ridge, where a crowd of good-hearted cops from the 68th Precinct filled the pews, six serving as pallbearers. Sgt. Angel Rosa of the 68th, also a Marine, arranged for a USMC honor guard at Musso's funeral.

Then taps blew over Gaspar Musso, United States Marine, as he was buried next to his mother at Resurrection Cemetery in Staten Island.

With the dignity he deserved.

I don't know that there are words kind enough for Officer Porcello. New York's finest, indeed. No one deserves to die alone, and especially not a Marine who fought in WWII. God bless Officer Porcello for what she did, giving a hero's send-off to another warrior off to watch over us in Heaven. And to Gaspar Musso... Semper Fi, Marine.

Hat Tip: Blackfive and Ms. Underestimated


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Comments (7)

Your tearjerker warning did... (Below threshold)
Aaron:

Your tearjerker warning didn't work... The funeral part, to me, was not as impressive as the time she spent with him before he died. Funerals are more for those who live on. However, she made his last days on earth enjoyable - that was the real gift of value.

Exactly right, Aaron. Ever... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Exactly right, Aaron. Every step of the way, Officer Porcello not only did the right thing, she made a difference in the lives of at least a dozen people.

Great post Cassy, we need to be reminded about good people like Musso and Porcello. God bless 'em.

Damn allergies mak... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:


Damn allergies make my eyes water something terrible.

Well done, Officer Porello.

Semper Fi, Gaspar.... (Below threshold)
ODA315:

Semper Fi, Gaspar.

Chesty's waiting to shake your hand when you get there.

> Sometimes when old Mar... (Below threshold)
Arthur:

> Sometimes when old Marines die they do fade away into unmarked graves in Potter's Field.

Only if nobody tells the VA. Every veteran has a right to a grave in a VA cemetary.
You might not get to pick which cemetary, but they'll find one for you.

Officer Porello, you are as... (Below threshold)

Officer Porello, you are as beautiful as a morning star. Not only did you give an old man a gift, you gave the rest of us one just by knowing what you did.

Wow, still snuffling here. Wow.

It's nice to know we still ... (Below threshold)
Fred Guiazzo:

It's nice to know we still have good people in this country who take the time to care for someone else. From one Marine the another.
Semper Fi.Job well done!




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