Word of Vincent B. Vicari’s death on Dec. 5 was announced at the Christmas party of the Lehigh Valley chapter, Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. He had been a member.
I knew Vinny, but not well. Our paths crossed at veterans’ events, where he was always front and center. Plus, he had a physical connection with my in-laws, who lived in Bethlehem Township: Their back yards met. My wife, Mary, described him as expressive and high-energy.
Vinny, who was 92, was never a subject of my series “War Stories: In Their Own Words” in The Morning Call. I did consider interviewing him, but our archives contained a flurry of stories about him, so I passed.
During the Bulge, Vinny was an officer in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division and an aide to Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, who famously responded to a German surrender ultimatum at Bastogne, Belgium, on Dec. 22, 1944: “Nuts.”
The stretch of Route 33 between Route 22 and Interstate 78 is named after McAuliffe as a result of Vinny’s efforts.
The veterans’ community will miss his proud leadership.
This year also saw the deaths of several World War II veterans whose stories ran in my series: fighter pilot Frank Speer, March 1; Army medic Jack Davis, May 12; sailor Horace Rehrig, May 21; Pearl Harbor survivor Warren Peters, Sept. 29; Alfred Taglang, another Pearl Harbor survivor, June 12; and bomber pilot Harry Yoder, May 8.
Speer, Davis, Rehrig and Yoder are in my book, War Stories: In Their Own Words.
I counted them all among my friends. They are gone but not forgotten.