CINCINNATI — As he celebrates his 102nd birthday, World War II veteran Art Fusaro recalls his service and the celebrations that came once the fighting ended.
Fusaro was working away as a chemical engineering student at the University of Cincinnati when the war began. The only thing that prevented him from being on the frontlines at that time was his enlistment in the Reserve Corps.
“Having that ticket in this Enlisted Reserve Corps kept me out for quite a while, and then they finally started dragging everyone in and didn't have much choice,” Fusaro said.
Without much of a choice, Fusaro was plucked out of his classes and sent off to Connecticut for schooling of a different kind.
“They were training us in electrical engineering,” he said.
At the Signal Corps school in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, Fusaro was trained in the latest communications technology.
“By the time they would train a bunch of guys and get them into the war, the technology would change,” he said.
As a result, he says he and about 20 other guys were put together to create a training unit that deployed to the war zone and trained in the field. This way, he said, the latest technology was being implemented as quickly as possible.
Once sent to Munich, Fusaro said he had no idea the communication towers he was putting in would be the key line for the military’s top generals at the time.
“It was pretty secretive stuff — we had the mainline of communication between General Omar Bradley and Patton,” Fusaro said.
He said they were warned not to listen to the communications due to the likely sensitive nature of the discussions, joking that General Patton always carried two pistols with him as a sign to not mess with him.
If there’s a silver lining to being deployed to Germany during World War II, it's that he and his unit were fortunate to only have to spend 60 days on the ground implementing the communication systems.
“We went into Honolulu and set up a school, and I knew we were still at war with Japan,” Fusaro said. “We were there on VJ Day.”
He said the streets erupted with celebrations. Fusaro was able to snap a couple of photos of the fun, but his role in the military wasn’t over just yet — he would eventually be in Japan setting up similar communications systems for General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters in Tokyo.
Eventually, he would find himself out of uniform and back at the University of Cincinnati. He got his degree in chemical engineering, but ultimately didn’t care much for the career, choosing to go into marketing for the company he worked for instead.
He got married to Evelyn Virginia Fusaro during the early days of his military service and the two remained married for 51 years until her passing in October 2020. Fusaro said he loved his time in the service, but it came with the sacrifice of not being with the one he loved.
“The only bad part is being away from my family, you know,” Fusaro said.
Now more than 100 years old, Fusaro continues to drive and still remains very active within his retirement community.
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