Man Receives Brother’s Korean War POW Medals
EASTON, Pa. (AP) – It’s impossible to know if Vincenzo Romeo thought of his childhood in Easton as he succumbed to dysentery in a prison camp in North Korea. But his family in Easton thought of him.
Vincenzo Romeo was a young cook in the Army, months away from coming home, when he was deployed as an infantryman with the First Cavalry Division. Now known as one of the most decorated divisions in Army history, in North Korea the division was circled and nearly completely destroyed by a much larger Chinese force.
On Nov. 2, 1950, Vincenzo Romeo was captured by enemy forces. By December, he was dead and buried nearly 10,000 miles from his home.
Thursday afternoon Nick Romeo, Vincenzo's brother, stood in Easton and touched his eye. It was hard to tell if the stone-faced peacetime veteran shed a tear, or if he was blinded by the sun.
He held a plaque containing medals: a Purple Heart, a Prisoner of War medal, a Good Conduct medal, a National Defense Service medal, a Korean Service medal and Bronze Star, a Combat Infantryman badge and a United Nations Gold Star lapel. They're the medals Vincenzo Romeo would have worn had he returned home. Now, they're in the hands of his brother.
Charles Susino, a former prisoner of war who is senior vice commander of the American Ex-Prisoners of War organization, presented Nick Romeo with his brother's awards in a small, lowkey ceremony Thursday in Easton’s Centre Square, in front of the Soldiers and Sailors monument.
The remains of Vincenzo Romeo and 320 other POWs still buried in Korea may never return home, although some bodies have been identified and returned. Susino tries to provide the closure he can, by getting a deceased soldier's medals to his family.
Nick Romeo subscribed to a POW bulletin, where he found Susino's name and contacted him about his brother.