Times Chronicle & Public Spirit
WWII veterans reminisce at Berks Military History Museum
Four stopped by the Mohnton museum to tell war stories to younger generations
Their stories were each different, filled with their own unique details and characters.
But as the four men gathered in the front room of the Berks County Military History Museum and spoke to one another and to the group that had assembled to listen, it was clear they shared something as well.
There were many of the same emotions, many of the same reflections. They had seen some of the same places, been through some of the same experiences.
And the had all known the devastation, destruction and loss that only a world war can inflict.
The men, each in their tenth decade of life, were all veterans of World War II.
They had been invited to the Mohnton museum by founder and state Rep. Mark Gillen, who hosts World War II vets there as often as he can so that they can share their stories with younger generations.
And, boy, did they have stories.
Like Lou Cinfici, a 93-year-old Reading native who joined the Merchant Marine when he was just 16.
Cinfici took a train to Philadelphia to sign up to fight in World War II, wanting to join four of his older brothers. To do so, he needed his parents to sign off.
On the train ride home he forged his parents signatures, hopping off at the train station and immediately getting on a train back to Philadelphia. Two weeks later he called his parents from Panama, finally letting them know what had happened.
While in Panama, Cinfici said, he was told he could hop off his ship, if he wanted. With his brothers
already serving, his family was already doing their fair share.
“I though it over and said ‘What would my family say if I did something like that,’ “he said.
So Cinfici stayed aboard the ocean-going tug boat as it headed for the Pacific Theater. He would serve through the end of the war, as well as during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Joe Zebertavage, who turned 96 on Groundhog Day, spoke about watching D-Day unfold from his ship floating off the shore of Normandy. He said wit