John Fratangelo

My name is John Fratangelo. I was born in the Bronx, New York on September 1st 1947. I started playing the drums at the age of four and played pro when I was twelve. I enjoyed playing baseball and wanted to be a ball player. I began body building at the age of thirteen and took this hobby very seriously. I was even offered to be a professional wrestler and a chance to be trained for the Mr. America contest, but I foolishly turned them down. I graduated from De Witt Clinton High School in 1965. I worked as a plumber until the Army drafted me in 1966. This calling stopped any future career plans that I may have had. I took all my training, both Basic and AIT at Fort Jackson South Carolina. I got married at the age of 19 while I was in Basic Training. My wife at the time became pregnant and I was sent to Vietnam. I was an M-60 Machine Gunner in a Recon platoon for the First Infantry Division also known as “the Big Red One”. I received the Purple Heart for gunshot wounds and The Silver Star for actions that took place on October 4th, 1967. After five months of hospitalization in Nam, Japan and St. Albans, Queens, I was sent to Fort Dix to undergo therapy and to finish my nine months of service. I made Sgt.E-5 and was discharged on November 15,1968. After being turned down for a city job due to my gunshot wounds, I joined the Local #2 Plumber’s Union and went through five years of Plumbing Apprenticeship and worked in N.Y. City for five years. And drove a cab as a second job. I battled an attack of galvanized poisoning, caused from burning galvanized pipe, which put me in the hospital. I was paralyzed twice from the waste down from very serios back injuries which also laid me up for weeks in the hospital. I used to blow people’s minds by lifting up cars and making room for me to park my car. I guess I did it once too many times. After our second child, I got divorced from my first wife. I then worked for General Motors in Tarrytown, N.Y. from 1977 until they shut down in 1997. I worked there at first on the assembly line. Then was made a supervisor where I worked in production, then material and finally in maintenance. Then I chose to be a pipe fitter and was assigned as the pipe fitter leader in charge of the entire plant. I also enjoy building things and mostly work alone. I had my third child with my second wife and raised two stepchildren. After eighteen years of marriage to my second wife, we got divorced. I married my third wife of twenty years and raised two other stepchildren. We now live in Mahopac, New York. During this time, I developed three table-top games, one of which is about Vietnam. I’ve also invented a talking religious statue called “Moses and the Burning Bush”, which lights up and recites The Ten Commandments. Since 2004, I’ve had a shoulder, hip and knee replacement. I also had multiple staph infections and Osteomyelitis from my service-connected injury which necessitated the removal of a piece of bone from my right foot. I recently published my book that I began to write back in 1970. Its title is “The Last Goodbye”, of which I dedicate it to my cousin Tony, who was killed in Vietnam and I had to bring him home to his grieving family and then return to Nam. My other reason for writing the book was to bring remembrance and honor to all my friends and all veterans, so they will not be forgotten. I am presently the Junior Vice Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 21 of Westchester and Putnam counties. We are a non-profit organization that is dedicated to help veterans in anyway we can. I also am a member of the Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the American legion and Together We Served. I now reside in Mahopac New York, where I live with my third wife and raised two other stepchildren. We have three West Highland Terriers. I am also proud of the fact that I display in my driveway the three-ton boulder of which my cousin and I played on when we were kids in The Bronx. Because of sentimental reasons, I went to get “My Boulder from The Bronx”, (as I like to refer to it) with just one other fellow, with nothing but hand tools and a small dump truck and brought it to my home in Rockland county. And after divorcing my second wife, I moved it from my previous home in Rockland County to my home in Mahopac. It’s a great story. I am also an avid believer in Christmas and in the past have been on the radio and in newspapers and received awards for my Christmas displays. I believe in putting God and Jesus above all others and proudly display a giant mural of “The Ascension” high above in my living room. I’ve read The Bible twelve times from cover to cover. I work alone and although plumbing is my main profession, I build decks, patios, stairways, retaining walls, brick columns, kitchens and bathrooms and any other necessary projects. To my way of thinking, money is not the most important thing in the world. I would never let money come between friendship. I never over charge people for my work and do many jobs pro bono. I would never cheat or lie or take advantage of anyone. The type of work that I do, helps to keep me in shape, being that my heavy weight-lifting days are over with. I try to help people in anyway that I can. I pride myself in being there for a friend or stranger whenever they need help. My baseball and softball days are over, but I still play the drums on occasion. And in the past seven years we now have seven grandchildren.

                                                                               Synopsis of My Book

 

It’s a November day and a visit to the grave site of Anthony Rutigliano, one of countless fallen American young men from the Vietnam war triggers memories of years past for John Fratangelo. This true story tells of the life John and Tony, two inseparable cousins had during their young years as kids in the Bronx and their adventures together through their teen years and their time in Vietnam. It tells of John’s young marriage while in the army and his trials and tribulations that he endures during his two years in military service. The book has some humorous moments but sadly they are overwhelmed by the heartaches and losses that occur during the military. The story is highlighted by the apparition that John has of Tony on the night that John finds out about Tony being killed in Vietnam. This scene was what inspired the writing of this book. However, the story does not end there. It goes on to tell of the tragic events that continue in the life of John, nicknamed “Pizza” by his Recon buddies. It shows and informs all who read it that combat is no joke. It’s real and horrific and all those who have endured it can attest to its atrocities. “The Last Goodbye” is a read that is sure to bring both a smile on your face and a tear to your eyes and will have a lasting impact on the way people who read it come to feel about the combat veteran and have a new found respect for every man and woman who proudly serve their country so that you, the reader and future generations will be able to live free and safe forever.

Stephanie Meyers interview.

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