Survivor of Three “Wars”
Updated: Apr 10, 2018
Dominic Tartaglione was drafted in the Army in New York City in 1941. He took his basic training in New Jersey and was trained in recon to help determine where to put field hospitals close to the front line during combat. He was in the 3rd Army, 108th Evacuation Hospital in Europe under General George Patton. Dom told me that they “came under heavy fire numerous times”. He was unable to land on Utah Beach at Normandy on June 6, 1944 because his landing craft was stuck on a sand bar and “didn’t hit the beach until June 12. The 108th was involved in five of the major battles during WWII in the European Theatre. Dom was very resourceful during his time in the Army and was able to “procure” numerous items that would help make his job easier and/or faster while scouting out a possible site for a field hospital. This included a German BMW motorcycle which his buddies painted a star on to look like an American motorcycle! One of his “offbeat” orders was to help his Captain to disassemble unexploded hand grenades. They dug a hole 3 – 4 feet deep, laid flat on the ground, stretched out their arms so their hands were just over the hole and slowly took apart the hand grenades.
Dom got out of the Army in December of 1945 and returned to New York City. His first job was working in auto parts. Dom said he “met his future wife, Josephine at a teenage dance. He was 18, she was 16. They married in October 1946. They had a son, Dana and a daughter, Joanne. He took the test to become a policeman in 1949 and retired in 1971. Dom’s son Dana, himself a former Major in the Air Force (he first went through the enlisted ranks and then joined the ROTC during college), told me his dad’s time as a policeman was also like being at war. Only his dad called it “urban warfare”. Dom had many adventures as a policeman in New York City. Whether it was a humorous or a deadly situation, Dom distinguished himself during his career.
He was in the Air Force Reserves during his time as a policeman and made numerous trips to Vietnam to deliver troops and supplies as a Chief Load Loadmaster on a C141 and various other aircraft. He retired at the highest enlisted rank of Chief Master Sergeant in 1981 at 60 years old.
Dom and Josephine moved to Lubbock in 1996 to be closer to his family. However, Josephine passed away in April of 2007 and Dom moved to Raider Ranch in 2011. He went on the first South Plains Honor Flight in 2012 and enjoyed every minute of his trip. He was truly in his element as he and other WWII, Korea and Vietnam vets shared many memories while visiting their memorials and Arlington Cemetery. Dom said it really was the “trip of a lifetime”.
Sadly, Dom was killed in an auto accident on March 17, 2014. Witnesses said it appeared he did everything he could to keep from hitting a woman pushing a baby stroller. As his son Dana said, “That sounds like dad – always a life of service”.
Larry A. Williams
Texas South Plains Honor Flight Committee