Geno & Anne D. Senior Living Residents Spotlight
Geno & Anne D. this month’s senior living residents spotlight have quite the story. Keep reading to find out more.
Geno was born in Long Beach, California on July 31, 1923. He spent a lot of time in the water at the beach and enjoyed growing up there. His father owned a service station, and Geno’s mother enjoyed her time as a socialite. He remembers his grandmother stayed with them for a number of years, and did most of the cooking. He also had
two younger brothers, and altogether they were a happy family.
Geno had a paper route growing up. While working he was approached by a man with a job opportunity. He didn’t know it at the time, but he became a runner for a gambling syndicate. Geno would check in with local bars, and then deliver the packages they gave him to a ship located three miles off shore. He remembers they would feed and pay him really well, and it also got him a lot of favors when he went to high school.
When Geno went off to Long Beach City College, World War II was beginning. At the time he was working for WP Fuller & Company, and his employment made him eligible for the draft. He was caught in the second draft and put into the Air Force.
Gunnery Training in the Deep South
He found himself in Keesler Field, Mississippi, which was part of the deep south. He learned a lot about what was going on in America at the time regarding segregation, which was strange to him having grown up around and with ethnic people. Geno remembers there being black specific bathrooms and drinking fountains, and they’d even have to step into the street if you were walking on the sidewalk. He also remembers that even in the Air Force there were no blacks or Latinos.
Continuing on in his training, Geno went to several trade schools in the service. At 19 he was a Buck Sergeant and wound up in gunnery school in Camden, Arizona. He became a member of a crew and they were sent to Wala Wala, Washington. He was on a B17 skeleton crew and they went into training in Sioux City, Iowa, Kearney, Nebraska and other areas.
Geno was the crew’s tail gunner, which he explains is like the third pilot and rear-view mirror. The crew got their own airplane and flew to Europe. The weather caused them to go over Labrador, Greenland and land in Iceland where they spent a week before flying into Scotland and then England. With the 100th bomb group, he flew 25 missions over Europe. On his 25th mission he was shot down and became a prisoner of war of Germany.
A Prisoner of War
While a prisoner of war, there were many times when Geno thought he would be facing death. From being sodomized, shot at, bayoneted, bitten by dogs, traipsing all around Europe, to working the ovens at the Dachua concentration camps, Geno experienced the horrors of war. Toward the end of the destruction Adolf Hitler caused, he issued an order to annihilate all prisoners of war. However, General Patton deciphered the orders and sent his 14th armored division and 25th and 99th infantries to intercept just ½ hour before they got to them.
Returning to the United States
When Geno returned to the United States, he met a young lady named Jewel whom he later married. The two were unable to have children and opted to adopt a little boy and girl. They raised them in Long Beach. Geno was unable to fly when he returned and was placed in charge of a motor pool as a Tech Sergeant.
His wife later passed away from lung cancer, which Geno is convinced came from her time in the service, but was never able to prove it to the VA.
Growing Up in Brooklyn
Anne was born on a farm in Brooklyn, New York on December 21, 1929. She grew up in a family of Italian and Jewish people. She was one of four children, she had two brothers and a sister. Her parents were wonderful. Her mother was brought up in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and her father came from Sicily when he was just three. As a family they never knew poverty and were very fortunate.
Growing up she worked in an Italian Bakery that belonged to a friend of her parents. Anne started her education at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She was also married at this time; she and her husband were just starting their family. Unfortunately, her first son died of asthma. Anne had her second son and he too had asthma. Her doctor recommended to get him out of New York to give him a fighting chance. She had friends in California so they packed everything up and made the move.
Making the Move to California
While living in California, Anne went to Pasadena College and another college in Glendora. She took a test for the county, which she passed and became a clerk. However, she scored very high and her supervisor asked if she wanted to be a social worker. All she needed was her Associate’s Degree, so she completed this and started her career in social work. The job was stressful, but it allowed her to learn a lot about politics and how they worked.
Geno moved to Victorville, California and this is where he met Anne. At the time, they were neighbors and she was married. Her husband passed away a year later. After some time, Geno and Anne were married in 1996.
Together they traveled quite a bit. Their first trip was to Alaska by RV. They spent three months there and saw Yukon and Canada. Since then they’ve made several trips to the Caribbean, Hawaii and other places. For Geno’s 90th birthday, he and Anne’s son went back to Dachua where he had been a prisoner of war.
Geno, we thank you for your sacrifice and service, and we are so happy that you and Anne have chosen to call Renaissance Village Rancho Belago, home.