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Marine Raises Thousands for WWII Veteran He Just Met

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I never had the privilege of growing up in a military family. Though my father had been drafted, a childhood injury had rendered him 4-F.

Still, I always find the instant camaraderie fascinating, that way in which two or more people can find themselves bound together simply by their shared service.

That bond was on full display on May 16 when a young Marine encountered a needy member of America’s Greatest Generation.

Guido Filippone, a Marine veteran who’d served his country from 2004 to 2008, had needed to visit the VA office in Austin, Texas. While leaving, he saw a man slowly making his way across the parking lot with a walker.

But this wasn’t just any geriatric. This man was wearing a World War II hat.

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“I immediately approached him, shook his hand, and thanked him for service and asked if anyone was coming to pick him up or have a ride,” Filippone said. “He pointed out that he drove himself and that his car was parked in the lot, and [he] was going to walk there since there was no one with a golf cart or means to get him there faster.”

The start of a Texas summer isn’t known for being temperate, and Filippone decided to walk the man to his car. He learned that his name was Mike Gazella and that he’d served in the Army during WWII.

“During the conversation, he asked me, ‘How is the VA treating you?’” Filippone recalled.

“I replied: ‘I can’t complain.’ He then paused and said, ‘I can’t say the same.’ And this is where the story begins.”

It turned out that the elderly Gazella had needed to have some medical work done outside of the VA system. The result? A $4,000 price tag that the old warrior was having a hard time covering and hoped that the VA would reimburse.

Filippone stated, “If I had a checkbook, I would have given the money to him right there. I wouldn’t want a World War II vet to move on to the next phase of life in debt.”


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He offered to help, but Gazella turned him down. So Filippone decided to do the next best thing: He started a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $4,000.

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The former soldier’s plight must’ve touched a collective nerve, because the Marine raised more than $11,000 in its first 16 hours and stands at $15,745 as of press time. Now all Filippone needs to do is find Gazella and tell him about his windfall.

“I know he goes to Starbucks every day in Leander,” Filippone said. “There’s only two Starbucks in Leander. I’m going to go to both, ask around, and give him a check.”

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
Education
Wheaton College
Location
Florida
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Entertainment, Faith, Travel




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