World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient James Fabiochi, 96, formerly of Myerstown and now residing at Spang Crest, was honored recently with a proclamation issued by the Lebanon County Commissioners during their meeting that occurred closest to Flag Day.
“It’s an honor to acknowledge one of the greatest generation,” said Commissioner Chairman Bob Phillips.
Fabiochi was born in Myerstown on May 22, 1924, and quit high school during his senior year to join the U.S. Marines.
His niece, Monica Ferretti of Lebanon, said Fabiochi knew he would be drafted into the U.S. Army, and instead, had hopes of joining the Marine Corps.
As soon as he turned 18, Fabiochi hopped a train to Philadelphia, so he could pursue his dream, she said. At the time, Lebanon County had no offices where Fabiochi could enlist in the Marines.
“Those were the proudest days of his life, serving in the Marine Raiders in the South Pacific,” Ferretti said. “He was so proud to be a Marine.”
During one battle, Fabiochi was injured so badly that he still has shrapnel in his back.
Fabiochi enlisted in the Marine Corps on Feb. 16, 1943 and served as a member of Company K, 3rd Marine Raider Battalion during the 1943 Battle of Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.
He also fought in the Battle of Guam in the Mariana Islands with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Provisional Marine Brigade.
PFC Fabiochi was wounded in action on July 27, 1944 and was transferred to the U.S. Navy Hospital at Pearl Harbor on August 9, 1944.
This was the second time he was injured in battle, his niece said.
Fabiochi received the Purple Heart in October of that year for wounds received as a result of enemy action in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater.
“The second time he was injured was more severe and he still has pain from the shrapnel in his back,” Ferretti said. “My mother was afraid he would have to be in a wheelchair, but he is still walking by using a walker, he just can’t have an MRI.”
Fabiochi served with the Marines for two and a half years, and was honorably discharged on October 20, 1945.
In acknowledging his service, the commissioners proclamation reads, in part: “We the Commissioners of Lebanon County, unite with his family to express our appreciation for his devotion, commitment, and dedication to our country as a World War II veteran.”
Commissioners Bill Ames and Jo Ellen Litz also expressed their gratitude for Fabiochi’s brave and selfless actions during World War II.
“We want to thank him for his service,” Ames said.
“We appreciate his service and we appreciate him helping to keep us safe,” Litz said.
After being discharged, Fabiochi returned to Myerstown, where he lived until age 93, before moving into assisted living.
Ferretti made known his story to local media and her uncle’s wartime heroism was addressed on ABC News during the “We Salute You” feature.
At Spang Crest, his May birthday was celebrated during Memorial Day weekend with staff and fellow residents watching his TV spot while enjoying a special meal and birthday cake.
Shuey’s pretzels and caramel corn from Wertz’s Candies brought a local flavor to the celebration, while Ferretti made sure everything from cupcakes to plates and balloons was in red, white, and blue.
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