Thomas W. Porcella
(courtesy of "Mike")
Grave marker for Thomas W. Porcella in Section 609, Grave
No. 1368 of the Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell (Sumter County),
Thomas W. Porcella died in Melbourne, FL, after a 17-year
battle with cancer. He was 86 years old.
Born in Far Rockaway, Queens, NY, he graduated St. Mary's High School
and entered the Army, volunteering to be a paratrooper. He was assigned
to the 82nd Airborne, and while stationed in Nottingham, England, met
his bride of 64 years, Molly Johnson. He jumped on D-Day into the
Normandy countryside and later served in Belgium in the Battle of the
Bulge, where he was wounded. He was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze
Star for his valor and actions in combat.
After the war, they settled in Massapequa, raising five children. He was
the owner of Westwood Plumbing and Heating until the late 1960's, when
he became a mechanic for Pan American World Airlines. In the 1970's he
returned to Normandy to reunite with a farmer who befriended the
soldiers and served them Crepes Suzette, starting his love affair with
people of St. Mere Eglise and Normandy.
He wrote a book, "Jump Into Darkness" which was sold in France and the
proceeds were donated to the French Cancer Hospital, a children's
charity. He was instrumental in obtaining all 50 U.S. state flags to
decorate the Musee Airborne St. Mere Eglise, the paratrooper's museum,
where his original uniform is on display along with other WWII
memorabilia. The affection was returned by the people of France, who
named a street after him and immortalized the 82nd and 101st Airborne
Divisions with a permanent memorial.
On the 65th anniversary of D-Day, Mr. Porcella was decorated as a
"Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor". This is the highest award the
French can bestow on a person who is not a French citizen.
He is survived by his wife Molly of 64 years, five children, five
granddaughters, and six great grandchildren.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, August 12, from 6:00PM to 8:00PM,
with funeral service commencing at 7PM at the Beach Funeral Home, 4999
Wickham Road, Melbourne, FL. Interment to be held at Florida National
Cemetery, Bushnell, FL 33513. In lieu of flowers, the Porcella family
requests contributions to the Family and Friends of the 508 PIR
Association, 3630 Townsend Drive, Dallas, TX 75229. Checks can be made
payable to "F&F 508th PIR" in memory of Thomas Porcella.
Condolences may be sent to
[Source: Florida Today, Page 5B, August 10, 2010)
Tom Porcella was laid to rest on August 13, 2010 in the
Florida National cemetery, Bushnell, FL.
Casket wheeled from hearse to Committal Shelter "G"
Honor Guard at flag draped casket
Flag is folded for presentation
Flag is presented to widow Molly Porcella as her son John
Casket with Red Devil emblem affixed
Emblem of the original 508th PIR Association (WW-II) was
placed by Dick O'Donnell, who had saved it for this occasion
(all photos courtesy Dick O'Donnell)
Meanwhile, Tom Porcella was recognized with a personal
tribute at the new 508th memorial in Wollaton Park
Flowers and fruit were laid at the base of the monument
The flowers were wrapped in a paper reading "In Loving Memory"
and had a note attached as well.
The note read:
Porcella - you will be missed but your stories will live on.
Rest In Peace
Jonathan and Lucie
(above photos courtesy of Jonathan Keeling)