Passing on a piece of World War I history
Gene Loparco of Colonie, a Vietnam War veteran and veterans advocate, has received a belated Christmas gift of historical note.
Dick Wood of Latham, retired WTEN-TV News anchor and an Army veteran, gave Loparco a Nov. 11, 1918, copy of The Providence (R.I.) Daily Journal newspaper that led with “GERMANY SURRENDERS,” marking the end of World War I.
Wood had bought the newspaper 45 years ago at an auction. Wood said he gave Loparco the historical newspaper because of Loparco’s and his family’s participation in the military. Wood added that he gave the paper to Loparco because of his ties to veterans organizations, as well as a way to pass history to the youth of America.
Loparco’s grandfathers both served in the Great War: Eugenio Loparco was in the Army, and Francesco Dinuzzo served in Italy’s army.
Loparco’s dad, Vincent, served in the Navy in World War II, and Loparco himself served at an Air Force base in South Vietnam during the 1968 Tet Offensive.
He added that both families had uncles, an aunt and cousins who served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Among them were Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Louis and Sgt. Edna Purcell of Watervliet.
A distant cousin, Navy Hospital Corpsman Robert Razzano of Cohoes, was killed in Vietnam.
“I was proud and honored to be selected by Dick to receive this newspaper in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of World War I’s Armistice in November,” Loparco said. “Since we are still celebrating and remembering those who made the supreme sacrifice for our freedom during that Great War and wars since, Dick knows that I will pass this newspaper on, for future generations, in my involvements with the many veteran organizations that I belong to in the Capital Region.”
Loparco can be seen helping and/or taking photographs at almost every veterans event or fundraiser in the Capital Region.
An Albany Business College graduate and a retired investigator for the state Insurance Department and Comptroller’s Office, he serves as a chaplain, historian and photographer for numerous Capital Region veterans organizations, including the Robert Weininger Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Colonie, the Zaloga American Legion Post in Colonie, and the Tri-county Council of Vietnam Era Veterans. He is an associate member of the Schenectady Detachment of the Marine Corps League.
Loparco is a volunteer photographer for the Albany High School Junior Reserve Officer Training program; photographer, public relations and social media coordinator for the American-italian Heritage Museum; photographer and Facebook coordinator for AMVETS Post 35, Rotterdam; and photographer for Ancient Order of Hibernians.
He also is the photographer for Blue Star Mothers events and Gold Star Mothers events; the portrait photographer for Christian Brothers Academy; the photographer for Albany County Honor-a-vet and Rensselaer County Honor A Deceased Veteran programs; the Four Chaplains Award photographer for the Albany Jewish War Veterans Post 105; and photographer for Honors Flights, Albany parades, Shaker High School veterans events and O’brien and Schenectady City detachments of the Marine Corps League.
He also takes photos for the American Red Cross, Veterans Miracle Center, various Veterans Affairs programs, and Mater Christi School in Albany.
Recently, Loparco and his wife, Linda, went to Wood’s home to present a framed copy of the front page of the newspaper to Wood and his wife, Kristin Woodward. (Dick’s real last name is Woodward; he uses Wood as his broadcast name.) Loparco has also had larger framed copies made for displaying at veterans posts and for use during school presentations.
“Finally, because of Mr. Wood’s contribution to future generations, I will continue to post the front page to many of my veteran posts for viewing,” Loparco said, adding that he is available to present a World War I history program at schools.
Air Force Reserve Airman Kahzonnie A. Cruz of Niskayuna and Air Force Airman Alessia N. Poole of Albany have graduated from basic training at Joint Base San Antonio-lackland, San Antonio.
▶ News of your troops and units can be sent to Duty Calls, Terry Brown, Times Union, Box 15000, Albany, NY 12212 or [email protected] timesunion.com.
Dick Wood, top left, presents a 100-year-old copy of The Providence Daily Journal to Gene Loparco recently at Wood’s home in Latham. The newspaper, above, leads with stories marking the end of World War I.