Pirates game honor adds to WWII vet’s list of thrills
He earned two bronze stars, four Oak Leaf Cluster medals and an air medal.
“I talk to him every Christmas and other times about his service and I just think it was incredible,” said Mr. Gammiere, 60. “He was doing this at age 19 or 20. What was I doing at that age?”
For Mr. Galasso, his 37month service in the military was significant, but he doesn’t consider himself any more remarkable than a generation of men who grew up during the Great Depression, enlisted for service in their teens, and came home to Pittsburgh to settle into a job, family life and rooting for the hometown sports teams.
He was raised in the Strip District and dropped out of Schenley High School after just a few weeks because the trip from the Strip to the Oakland school “was too far to go on the old wicker street cars,” he said.
He earned his high school equivalency degree years later at night school after the war and got a job as a machine operator at Heppenstall Steel, where he worked for 30 years.
He met his late wife, Sarah, at a 10-cent dance at St. Mary’s Church in Lawrenceville, and after they married, the couple moved in with her family to help care for her elderly relatives. They raised two children in the house where Mr. Galasso now lives and where he handles the chores on his own — including washing windows, cutting grass and shoveling snow.
During a period when he was laid off from Heppenstall in the early 1960s, and even after the mill closed in the late 1970s, Mr. Galasso worked at St. Francis Hospital as a nurse’s aide and in the mail room.
His family credits his fit physical and mental conditions to him staying as active during retirement as he was during his working years.
He still drives a Chrysler 200, works at the senior center bingo, and regularly attends the Cherry City Fire Hall bingo in Shaler, a polka dance in Cheswick, and a casino in Wheeling, W.Va.
Asked about dramatic gentrification in Lawrenceville in recent years that has brought in young residents and trendy shops and restaurants, he’s happy that formerly vacant homes and storefronts are filled. But he laments that the old mom-and-pop corner stores in his neighborhood no longer exist.
He’s also not a fan of the city’s bike lanes, calling them “too dangerous” on narrow Pittsburgh roads.
The father of two, grandfather of three and greatgrandfather of two has been following the Pirates since he was a boy sitting in the bleacher seats at Forbes Field.
“The layout at Forbes Field was maybe a little better than this,” he said while scanning the rows above the dugout along the first base line at PNC Park. “And Three Rivers Stadium was OK, too.”
Just before game time, as Mr. Galasso was introduced and his smiling face beamed from the scoreboard’s big screen, he removed his World War II veterans cap and waved to the cheering crowd.