Marty Dodaro

In late May 1943, Marty was somewhere in Europe with the 54th U.S. Infantry.  His division was accompanying heavy tanks which were on their way to Germany.  His company of men had decided to take a rest, so Marty left the tank and sat under a nearby tree.  As he sat there, he reflected on home and the family he hadn’t seen in months.  The shade of the tree lulled him into a deep sleep.  In his dream, his mother’s first cousin, Catherine “Katie” Guarascio, visited him.  She lived at 1850 DeCatur Street in the Ridgewood section of Brooklyn with her husband and children.  Marty’s youngest brother, Frank, and sister, Gloria, had both been born in the very house where his “Aunt” Katie lived.  He dreamed of her and the quiet street where he had lived as a boy.  He could see her face clearly and this brought him great comfort.  His body relaxed as his mind drifted thousands of miles away from the war.

When the shells hit the tank he had just left, he was jolted from his dream.  He awoke to the chaos that followed the attack.  He ran to help his fellow soldiers, but he soon found that there was little he could do for them.  The direct hit on the tank had taken the lives of many of his comrades.

Later that night, he said a silent prayer of thanks.  He believed that his aunt had somehow come to him in his dream and saved his life.  He knew that if he hadn’t fallen into that sleep and dreamed of her, he would have returned to the tank and been there when it had been hit.  It wasn’t until weeks later, when he received a letter from home, that he found out that his Aunt Katie had died just days before his dream, on May 17, 1943.

Marty went on to fight in The Battle of the Bulge in Germany in December 1944.  He survived the war and returned home to his family in 1945.  Marty was awarded the Bronze Star for his service during The Battle of the Bulge.  This medal is awarded to those who distinguish themselves through heroic or meritorious achievement or service other than that which is associated with aerial flight.

Aunt Katie’s daughter, Rose, is the mother of John Venditto, who is currently the Town Supervisor of Oyster Bay, and her grandson, Michael Venditto, is currently a New York State Senator.   (Marty is my father-in-law, Frank’s, brother.)

Just before leaving for the war, in 1942, Marty had married Ruby Mae Harbuck.  In the early 1950s, the young couple adopted their only child, Michael, who was born in 1951.  On October 19, 1959, Marty died in a Veterans Hospital in Kentucky from a blood clot that went to his heart, leaving behind his wife and young son.  But his family has never forgotten him and I am thankful that his sister, Gloria, told me this story so that others will continue to know about this brave man who survived one of the most brutal battles of WWII.

image   Author of The Tin Box Trilogy

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