Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Marine Corps Veteran Anthony P. Damato, a World War II Veteran and posthumous Medal of Honor recipient.
Anthony P. Damato was born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, in March 1922. After graduating from high school, he worked as a truck driver. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in January 1942 and completed basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina.
In May 1942, Damato was stationed in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, as part of the first American unit to deploy to the European Theater. He volunteered to serve in a special invasion party for Operation Torch in North Africa and helped to seize the port of Arzew, Algeria. He landed with an assault wave that entered the port from the seaward side and assisted in boarding and seizing vessels in the harbor. He was promoted to corporal due to his meritorious conduct in action during the landing.
Damato returned to the United States in March 1943 for three months before reporting for duty in the Pacific. He served with the assault company in the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Marines, 5th Amphibious Corps as part of Operation Flintlock, a series of battles on the Gilbert and Marshall Islands in the Pacific Theater. Damato fought on Engebi Island, Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands.
On the night of Feb. 19-20, 1944, Damato was with two other Marines in a foxhole on his company’s defense perimeter. The position was highly vulnerable to attack. An enemy soldier approached the foxhole undetected and threw in a hand grenade. Damato didn’t hesitate, pulling the grenade to himself, absorbing the blast and dying instantly. His actions saved the lives of his two companions.
Damato was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” It was presented to his mother by Marine Corps Brig. Gen. M. C. Gregory on April 9, 1945, at Cooper High School, where Damato had attended. USS Damato (DD-871), active from 1946 to 1980, was named in his honor.
Cpl. Damato was initially buried in the Temporary American Cemetery in the Marshall Islands. His remains were re-interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
We honor his service.
Carry the Load
In 2022, VA is joining forces with Carry The Load to honor veterans during the “Memorial May” March, a national relay visiting 50 VA national cemeteries to honor our nation’s fallen service members. A link to this webpage is here. The complete list of participating cemeteries can be found here. Volunteers are encouraged to register in advance.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Aubrey Benton
Editors: Theresa Lyon, Alexander Reza
Researcher: Patrick E. Woods
Graphic Designer: Kiki Kelley