Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Air Forces Veteran Ralph A. DiSpirito, who served in the 390th Bomb Group during World War II.
Ralph DiSpirito was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1924. The Army drafted him June 25, 1943, and assigned him to the 1st Cavalry Division. During training, he and a friend saw a notice for volunteers to fly. They both believed that it would be an incredible experience to fly in the air, so they volunteered. They transferred over to the 3rd Air Force in 1944 for radio operator and gunner training in Nevada, before eventually being reassigned to 8th Air Force in 1945. DiSpirito personally enjoyed training, especially when it came to firing the .50 caliber machine gun.
DiSpirito served with the 390th Bomb Group, 568th Bomb Squadron in Framlingham, England, near the end of the war in March 1945. He participated in key missions, such as several prisoner exchanges of French prisoners of war from Czechoslovakia to England. During this time, his role consisted of him being part of a B-17 crew. The mission DiSpirito was extremely proud of during his service was Operation Chowhound, where he participated in five Chowhound missions that assisted the starving people of Holland with aerial supply-drops. While he kept his emotions passive and rarely showed them, his crew members knew that DiSpirito held great joy in aiding the people of Holland.
DiSpirito obtained the rank of sergeant and earned the following awards during his military career: a World War II Victory Medal, a European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and a National Defense Medal.
After the war, DiSpirito served for an additional year, ending his military service in 1946. He worked for a large cosmetics manufacturing company for 39 years. He also bought a summer home in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, splitting his leisure time between Brooklyn and Pennsylvania.
DiSpirito passed away on June 15, 2015.
We honor his service.
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.
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Writer: Alex Boucher
Editor: Katherine Berman, Julia Pack
Fact checker: Carl Wesseln
Graphic artist: Grace Yang