Still another sad note to my 61-year old Army photo
On April 14 I posted a piece here entitled "Reflections on a 61-year old photo." The photograph, taken in 1944, showed me and eight other members of the 903rd Signal Co. lined up at a U.S. Army air base in Panagarh, India. I identified each man, revealing personal details that I still could surprisingly recall about them. A reader of this blog, living in Oregon, spotted the reference to Panagarh and e-mailed a message to me. He had been a pilot stationed there, and we began a stimulating correspondence via the Internet.
Gordon Tombleson, one of the GIs in the photo, was an Oregonian with whom I had become a close friend. I was curious to know what had become of him. I asked my new geriatric "pen pal" living in Oregon whether he could find anyone named Tombleson in local phone directories. He located nine people. One of them was Gordon's brother. I called him and learned, to my horror, that Gordon, the happy-go-lucky Army buddy who I knew as a 19-year old, did not find much happiness in later years. He became an alcoholic and committed suicide by shooting himself many years ago.
Another GI in the old photo is Nick Palazzo. In an extraordinary coincidence, after not having seen him in many decades, he moved into my New Jersey community about three years ago and became my neighbor. The community, which is restricted to senior citizens and has more than 3,000 residents, boasts an in-house TV network that produces its own programs. I appear on it occasionally, reading material that I have written. The TV producers thought that my blog posting, "Reflections on a 61-year old photo," would be an interesting piece to telecast.
When I learned when the program was scheduled to be on the air, I quickly phoned Nick to tell him. A woman, who obviously was not Nick's wife or his daughter, answered. She had a Hispanic accent and was apparently a nursing aide for Mrs. Palazzo, who is an invalid. "I'd like to speak to Nick," I said, eager to inform him about his upcoming appearance on our TV program. I was stunned by the woman's response. "He passed away two weeks ago," she said casually. Seeking details about his death, I asked to speak to his wife. She was too weak to say very much except that he had died in their Florida condo.
And so it goes in "Octogenarian" territory.