Last of Lymansville’s World War II heroes will lead Memorial Day parade

Last of Lymansville’s World War II heroes will lead Memorial Day parade

Thomas Cardarelli, on the porch of his home at 35 Emmanuel St., is the grand marshal for the town’s Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 29. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

NORTH PROVIDENCE – A man who’s said to be the last of Lymansville’s World War II heroes will serve as grand marshal for North Providence’s 2017 Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 29.

Thomas Cardarelli, 97, won the Purple Heart after taking shrapnel to the right shoulder during “savage house-to-house combat” in The Battle of Saint-Lô, the fourth day at Normandy. His commander and many of his Army brothers were killed in that fight.

Many people today have forgotten the sacrifices so many soldiers made during World War II, said Cardarelli, mostly because the war has faded so far into the past. The member of the Disabled American Veterans said he’s grateful to Mayor Charles Lombardi for selecting him to lead the parade and helping to keep some of that memory alive.

Cardarelli said he once had five World War II veteran friends living in the village of Lymansville, but all have since died. He said he’s often saddened by those losses, but he remains proud of what he and his colleagues were able to accomplish.

Lombardi said he’s known Cardarelli and his family for many years, and the World War II hero is deserving of the honor. A few years ago, said Lombardi, he gave the veteran a jacket with “Mayor of Lymansville” emblazoned across it. Everyone in the neighborhood knows Cardarelli, and the rest of the parade committee agreed that he was the right choice for grand marshal, said Lombardi.

Cardarelli told Lombardi that he would serve as grand marshal “as long as I don’t have to make any speeches.”

After enlisting as a Private First Class in the U.S. Army in 1942, Cardarelli completed basic training at Camp Croft in South Carolina. He was deployed to North Africa, England and France, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, Rhineland, Ardennes Forest, and in the second wave at the Battle of Normandy. He was wounded in the European Theater on July 22, 1944, and then received the Purple Heart. He was discharged in July of 1945 from the 823 Tank Destroyer Unit.

After leaving the Army, Cardarelli spent 27 years working at the Naval Air Station Quonset Point, rising to shipping supervisor. He then spent a decade as janitor at Ricci Middle School, where many former students still remember him.

“The kids loved him,” said his daughter, Carol.

Cardarelli married the late Anna Papa in 1949, and they were married for 66 years. He is the father to Carol Cardarelli Emery and Thomas Cardarelli, grandfather of Sarah Carnevale, and great-grandfather to Violet Carnevale.

Cardarelli lives in the Emanual Street home where he was born.

Carol and Thomas Cardarelli take their father out for breakfast often, and they’ll all go to Carol’s for supper.

Cardarelli can often be found in the end seat in the neighborhood’s Boulder’s Social Club. He says the secret to his longevity is all the draft beer he drinks.

Cardarelli as he looked during his military days.


God Bless Mr. Cardarelli and thank you sir for your service to our country.