By David Stenklyft

Wausau Pilot and Review

As a 20-year commander of the Post 10 Honor Guard, John Pellegrino had a long, remarkable journey that led him to Wausau.

The Honor Guard is a group of 40 members who attend funerals, parades, special events and other functions, to honor members of the military. And they are quick to respond when they’re called to action.

“We respond to respect our fallen comrades, which is our first priority, then we can also do community functions, which we are happy to do,” Pellegrino said.

Pellegrino, who has partially deaf, grew up in Connecticut, joining the military reserves with eight others.

“I enlisted knowing I had a severe hearing problem,” he said. “I enlisted in the Navy trying to serve my country. But my condition kept me to being stationed in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.”

He was assigned as a cook, but he took care of both soldiers going overseas and local soldiers. Though the familiar east coast assignment made him happy, he since has traveled to 40 states, finally winding up in Wausau. Here, he worked at the Log Cabin restaurant with the woman who would become his wife.

“I was the manager and she was hired as a cook,” Pellegrino said. ” We hit it off and got married. Now we have two children and two grandchildren.”

He served from 1963-1965, which was a tumultuous span for military personnel,

“It was the beginning of the Vietnam War,” Pellegrino recalled. “I wanted to fight, but they discovered my hearing loss. So I couldn’t do that. They sent me home”

Reflecting on his post –military service and his experience with the honor guard, he hopes that younger veterans will join and support their local American Legion Post.

“All of our veterans are family,” he said. “We want all of them to know that. All of our delegates legislate in Washington DC for their benefit. You know, some of the younger veterans are busy with kids, married and sports with their kids, and I understand that, family comes first. But there is a higher calling to help all veterans and we need members to come forward and help with the Honor Flights, Honor Guards and to help other veterans.”

The Post is on a membership drive through the summer to boost membership numbers and help veterans and their families. There are 63 programs that assist with veteran issues.

The American Legion Post welcomes all military personnel serving the U.S. Their mission is to implement the goals, aspirations, dreams, peace and blessings for our country, friends and families. Membership is based on honorable service with any branch of the U.S. Armed forces during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Lebanon/Grenada conflict from Aug. 24, 1082 to July 31, 1984, Operation Just Cause from Dec. 20, 1989 to Jan. 31, 1990, and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, from Aug. 2, 1990 through today.

To learn more or to join Post 10, visit the organization’s membership page.