For Wordless Wednesday last week I shared the photo of Gaetano (Guy) Thomas Caso. (below) It has been the highlight of my week as he continues to share more of his fathers ‘story’ along with more photo’s. Before going any further I want to say a big thank you to the Guy Caso family for sharing with me all the wonderful photo’s in this posting and allowing me to share them with you.
Gaetano Thomas Caso was my 2nd c 1x removed, born September 10, 1923 in New York. He was the middle child of 3 children born to Michele (Michael) Caso and Rosa DiGirolamo. Rita was born in 1922 and Vita (Vera) born in 1932.
Gaetano, under the name of Guy Thomas Caso, served in WWII with the 147th NCB: Naval Construction Battalion in Okinawa, Japan. He was a Machinists Mate Second Class (CB) He served from January 4, 1943 and was honorably discharged on February 9, 1946. He was 20 years old when he entered the Navy.
Guy Thomas Caso
photo in front of his parents home
WWII Draft Registration Card – Ancestry.com
Guy was a SeaBee during the war. The Seabee’s are part of the Construction Battalion of the Navy, they were deployed to Okinawa to build airstrips and fueling tanks to allow a safe distance for an invasion of Japan ” he went on to say “my father told me that this job was very difficult. He had to operate heavy equipment with his M1 Carbine strapped to him and was under constant sniper fire.”
From the Seabee Museum and Memorial Park, North Kingston, Rhode Island
“On December 28, 1941, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell, Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks (BUDOCKS), requested specific authority to activate, organize, and man a unique, very special organization that would support the Navy and Marines in remote locations and defend themselves if attacked — the Naval Construction Battalions. On January 5, 1942, he was given that authority and the original Battalions were formed at a new Naval base in Davisville, Rhode Island.
The first naval construction unit to actually deploy from the United States left Davisville, Rhode Island, less than two weeks later on January 17, 1942. It was designated the First Construction Detachment. The 296 men arrived at Bora Bora on February 17, 1942. ”
You can read about the Seabee’s at the link above
Guy on some of the heavy equipment
Before being deployed Guy was part of the Navy’s Marching band. A drummer, he continued his love of music when “he formed a quartet and got to play at the officers’s club to fill up some of the down time” Guy told me.
Guy’s story does not end with his service to his country nor did it start there. Sharing a few of the memories with his son, Guy shared that his father had told him that his Uncle was an ice man, and that he helped him on his ice route sometimes. Without knowing who he meant exactly, as quite a few of the men in the family delivered ice/coal, Guy’s age does seem to line up/point to that ‘uncle’ may have been my grandfather, Frank Civitano. Looking at the other men in business during that time, they all had sons in the right age group to help out their fathers with the exception of Frank’s son, Vincent, my father, under ten during that time. But it’s just a guess at this point. As a young boy Guy Sr. also shared that his father (Michele) had given him a shoe shine box filled with polish. He would go to the local Irish bars and shine shoes for extra money for the family. Guy Jr. wonders if this might have contributed to his fathers love of corned beef and cabbage 🙂
In 1947 a year after his discharge from the Navy, Gaetano (Guy) Thomas married Elizabeth Panacciulli. Elizabeth was the daughter of Antonio Panacciulli and Antonia Albanese.
Below ~ the parents of Elizabeth and Guy Thomas
Antonia & Antonio Panacciulli and Rosa & Michael Caso
Work was sparse, so Guy joined forces along side his sister Vita’s husband, Donald Andreoli. They tried their hand at various jobs including an egg route, selling Christmas tree’s, waxing floors, any odd job that could be found. Eventually they bought a Good Humor Ice-cream truck along with some good routes. Guy. says he can remember the truck parked in the garage at his home. Who didn’t love the Good Humor ice-cream man? It was one of the best parts of my childhood summer memories.
*add on to original post, family members have expressed that it was a Howard Johnson’s ice cream truck.
His luck turned when a friend suggested he check into the Stagehand Union as a replacement, they were always looking for extra people, so he did. This lead led to a life long career within this industry. Guy worked the 1964/65 NY World Fair, Radio City Music Hall, NBC, ABC, CBS. He built scenery for the Metropolitan Opera House during the day and at night he would work on numerous Broadway shows. He retired in 1987 at the age of 64.
Gaetano (Guy) Thomas Caso Sr. passed away on July 1st, 2018 at the age of 94.
May his memory be a blessing
I would again like to say thank you to Guy Caso family for sharing so willingly the story of his father and his branch of the family and the wonderful family photo’s.