History Club Honors A Hero

Julianna Kasper, Staff Writer

The Farmingdale High School History Club, run by beloved social studies teachers Mr. Hughes and Ms. Theo, had the honor of having Mr. William Joseph Geandomenico, a World War II veteran, as a guest at one of their many meetings to tell them about his first-hand experiences as a soldier during the war. As a member of the club myself, I feel extremely grateful that I was able to meet a man as amazing as Mr.Geandomenico in my lifetime. Arianna Anderson, also a history club member, exclaimed, “I feel really grateful for this experience, as the veteran shed loads of insight on the life of a soldier with his first-hand accounts and stories.”  Along with his daughter, Annemarie Geandomenico, Mr. Geandomenico told us many stories of his past from the war, both light-hearted and tragic, while showing us his many possessions from the war itself, including his coat and compact shovel, with which he used to dig foxholes.

Drafted in 1944 at only eighteen years old, Mr. Geandomenico told us that he often felt very lonely in the beginning of training, and would often turn to humor to lighten his mood, as he was and still is a lover of comedians. First stationed in Bris, France, he was in General Patton’s army in the Eighth Infantry Division. Remembering all the men he met at the time, he happily exclaimed that “they called us the Crazy 8th.” As a First Scout, he was responsible for running ahead of the army, seeing where the enemy was, and running back to inform and prepare his men for battle. He and his division were soon transported north through Belgium and Luxembourg, where Mr. Geandomenico was wounded in his foot and sent to England. It was at this time he earned his first Purple Heart, an award soldiers receive if they are injured or killed during service.

After months of recovery, he rejoined his division at the infamous bloody Battle of the Bulge, and fought to an Allies’ victory. Despite him being on the winning side, Mr. Geandomenico says he will never forget all the death he saw that day, and how he is a changed man because of it. After two weeks, Mr. Geandomenico and the eighth division crossed the Rhine River, but came under fire. Injured due to shrapnel in his leg, Mr. Geandomenico still managed to save the life of a critically injured fellow soldier by carrying him to a medic through heavy artillery fire. Because of this, he received his second Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for Heroic Service.

Amanda Stoll, a fellow history club member, felt very privileged in being able to hear his stories, happily stating, “I enjoyed the spirit and enthusiasm of this great World War II veteran.” When describing his experiences, Mr. Geandomenico did not hold back in expressing his sadness, and when describing the time he took part in liberating a concentration camp, he laments “war is horrible, just horrible.” Mr. Geandomenico did not glorify war, but instead talked about the things no one wants to: death, destruction, and despair. He is a very honorable man, and we all owe our utmost respect to him and all the men and women alike that sacrifice their lives for our country.

When students asked him for advice to give for anyone looking to enlist in the army, Mr. Geandomenico gave all of us history club members valuable words of wisdom: “Right now,” he advised us, “the tool you should be working on is knowledge. You want to learn not to attach yourself to groups that want to control you.” In today’s day and age, this is especially important. Keeping an openness to others’ views, looking at the world through different perspectives and asking questions that get answers are what prevents the corruption of the human mind. It is only when we learn from our past and look to veterans like Mr. Geandomenico, as he rightfully suggested, is when we, the people of today, can create a better and progressive future for the people of tomorrow.