Gallonio selected as grand marshal for Memorial Day Parade

Gallonio selected as grand marshal for Memorial Day Parade

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Michael Gallonio, a 90-year-old town resident and a "true hero" of American history, according to his family, has been selected as the grand marshal for the 2013 North Providence Memorial Day Parade and Celebration.

The sixth Memorial Day event returns to Governor John A. Notte Jr. Park on Monday, May 27, beginning at 1 p.m. in front of North Providence High School.

Mayor Charles Lombardi is inviting all residents for a parade that will march down Mineral Spring Avenue, Douglas Avenue, and end at Notte Park, where a celebration will follow. There will be a ceremony, music, entertainment and a food court.

Gallonio, a decorated member of the Lymansville Memorial VFW Post on Fruit Hill Avenue, told The Breeze he doesn't see himself as a hero, but as a reluctant participant in World War II who "did what I had to do." While he's proud and honored by the selection as parade grand marshal, he said, he still sees others as more deserving.

Armand Briere, Gallonio's nephew, said there is no one more deserving than this year's grand marshal, who saved many lives during the conflict.

"He's been through it all, patching guys up, giving them morphine," he said. "He's a life-saver."

Gallonio can't recall how many lives he saved, nor does he care to. The mental wounds he suffered as a medic in the 66th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army left scars that haunt him to this day, he said.

"I try to forget it," he said, tears welling up in his eyes.

A resident of Lyman Avenue, Gallonio has been married to his wife Madeline for the past 62 years. The former "meat guy" spent most of his adult life after the army as the meat inspector for the state of Rhode Island.

Gallonio was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1946, after being there for the campaigns at Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe.

He is a winner of the European African Middle Eastern Theater Campaign Ribbon, the Good Conduct Medal, and the Victory Medal.

Gallonio's world in many ways has been very sad in recent years, he said, as he's lost much of his eyesight and hearing and suffered from numerous debilitating illnesses. No longer can he even play cards with his friends as he once did, he said, and nine of the VFW post's oldest members have died since January.

But he said that having a place in the 2013 Memorial Day Parade, where thousands of people will wave back to thank him for his service to his country, will be one very bright spot in a very long life.