Lou Cinfici Biography-2: Military Career

From the Reading (PA) Eagle newspaper -- March, 2013:

Nothing scared Rose Cinfici more during World War II than to see the Western Union man bicycling through her Reading neighborhood. Those were the deliverymen who brought telegraphed War Department announcements to families of troops who were hurt, captured or killed. Rose had plenty to lose.

Six of her sons fought in that war: Mike and Sam Abitabile, and Joe, John, Alfred and Lou Cinfici, all of whom grew up in Reading. Two were wounded, others had close calls, but all six survived. And that wasn't the end of the family's service. John and Lou went on to fight in the Korean War, as did their brother Jimmy Cinfici, and Lou and Jimmy also fought in the Vietnam War, as did brother William Cinfici.

The ninth of the brothers, Anthony Cinfici, also served, and though he was the only one who wasn't sent to war, he was the only one to die as a result of his service. In 1959, just days before he was to head to officer candidate school, he was exposed to radiation while working on nuclear tests in Okinawa, Japan. He died a year later at age 24.

Rose's husband, Morris Cinfici, was a veteran of World War I, so all 10 men in the family served their country.

Taking a look back

Cinfici men were in the Pacific for the start and end of the war. Joe was at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack and Lou witnessed the signing of the peace treaty with Japan from a nearby tugboat.

Lou, 85, still marvels at the things he saw and the things he survived. As a soldier on leave in Japan shortly after World War II ended, he became friends with a girl from Nagasaki, and spent three days helping her clear debris from the city where the second atomic bomb was dropped. "It practically wiped out everything that had been standing," he said. "It was just devastating."

During the Korean War, Lou was able to serve with John and Jimmy aboard the USS Sicily, an escort carrier, until Lou suffered a head injury while the ship was being maneuvered to avoid a submarine attack. He was taken off the Sicily for medical care.

And Lou was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid when it rescued astronaut Scott Carpenter, who in 1962 landed 200 miles off target in the Caribbean Sea after orbiting the Earth.

Most of the brothers were wounded or survived narrow escapes, particularly during World War II. John, a sailor, was on two ships that were sunk. Joe was wounded in the Philippines. And Sam was so badly hurt in Germany that his comrades nearly buried him alive, thinking he'd been killed. "He moved his hand just in time," William said. The family received a telegram indicating Sam had died, but his mother never believed it, saying she could feel he was still alive. So months later, when the War Department confirmed that he'd survived, she wasn't surprised. "She knew the whole time," William said. "Mothers know."

Lou was struck by shrapnel in Vietnam, and suspects the cancer he's battled is a result of either his time in Nagasaki or his contact with Agent Orange. But Lou said military service was great for his family, particularly for him, John, Jimmy and William, all of whom made a career of it.