French Legion of Honor Award Ceremony For Joseph Della Giustina, Sr. of Agawam, MA
Pronounciation – Giustina (JUST-TINA)
Friday, June 22, 2012
12 noon luncheon – 1 pm ceremony – camera set-up can begin at 11 am
Julius Appleton Room – Mass Mutual Gallery – Basketball Hall of Fame
Contact: Marsha Della Giustina – email@example.com or 781-266-7232, 413-786-7160 (Thurs –Fri am)
Joseph Della Giustina Sr. will be receiving the French Legion of Honor from French Consul General Christophe Guilhou in honor of landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and fighting throughout France to liberate the country during World War II. Congressman Richard Neal, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Springfield Veterans Director Thomas Belton, and Barbara Bishop, an aide to MA House Speaker Robert DeLeo will be speaking and presenting citations. There will also be a citation from MA Governor Deval Patrick.
Mr. Della Giustina is the retired General Manager of the Springfield Teachers Credit Union (STCU). Previously he was at Commerce High School in Springfield both as a guidance counselor and business math teacher. He is an alumnus of American International College where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees under the GI Bill. He has a CAGS (Certificate of Advanced Studies) from U-Conn.
Mr. Della Giustina was born and raised on Loring Street in Springfield’s South End. He met his wife while they were manufacturing rifles at the Springfield Armory. He entered the U.S. Army on March 17, 1943, went through training at Camp Shelby in Louisiana, and as part of his U.S. Army education, studied at the University of Alabama and Manhattan College in New York. After landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day in the 3rd wave, he went on to liberate St. Lo and Cherbourg and was a mine sweeper from there to Paris. He fought in Belgium and Germany helping to build the pontoon bridge at Remagen and run a POW camp. He returned home on September 1, 1945 and married Jennie Subotin from Agawam, MA where they settled and raised 3 children. In 1992 he and his family retraced his WWII steps, finding the exact place he had landed at Omaha Beach, and reuniting with French friends from the War.
Mr. Della Giustina served as chairman of both the Agawam Board of Selectmen and School Committee. In 2003 he was chosen Italian of the Year by the Agawam Sister City Committee. He was a member of the Agawam City Charter Committee which changed Agawam from a town to a city. He was a founding member of the Agawam UNICO. For years he served on the Democratic Town Committee and as a delegate to Democratic State Conventions. Mr. Della Giustina turned 89 years old on June 5, 2012.
Napoleon created the Legion of Honor in 1802 to acknowledged services rendered to France by persons of exceptional merit. The French Ambassador to the USA Francois Delattre wrote to Mr. Della Giustina that “The French people will never forget your courage and your devotion to the great cause of freedom.”