Gaetano (Gus) Siciliano of Newfield, a decorated World War II veteran, died on Feb. 9, 2013, at the South Jersey Healthcare HospiceCare Center in Bridgeton.
Born in Philadelphia on Sept. 2, 1920, he grew up on a farm in Landisville and, while still a teenager, helped support his family by working at a variety of jobs. After the United States entered World War II, Gus entered the Army and later enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He achieved the rank of staff sergeant and was assigned to work as a flight mechanic in Bakersfield, Calif. However, Gus eventually decided he could better serve his country by volunteering for gunnery school and, following his training, was deployed to England. As a tail gunner, he flew 17 missions from Polebrook, England. On Sept. 12, 1944, Gus's squadron was attacked by German fighter planes and he was forced to parachute into Germany, where he was captured and held prisoner by the Nazis for almost a year. Gus and two of his fellow soldiers escaped and were recaptured three times before finally escaping captivity and making it across the Elbe River in July 1945. As a result of his military service, he was awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Air Medal, POW/MIA Medal, and other commendations.
After he returned to civilian life, Gus found work as a bricklayer and later taught masonry to special education students at the Camden County Vocational Center. A lifelong avid reader, who was interested in Native American culture, history and philosophy, he enjoyed spending time with his family, and was especially devoted to his grandchildren. He also enjoyed horseback riding, and tending his bees to make honey. Gus is survived by his wife, Helen; his son, Stefano; his daughter, Karen and her husband Tom Smith; his daughter, Joyce and her husband George Houston; as well as his grandsons, Thomas and Joshua, and Raffaele; and his granddaughters, Shanna, Melanie, Jessie, and Lisa; his sisters, Anna Downey and Eleanor Robinson; and his brother, Eddie and his wife Judy.
Funeral Home visitations will be held on Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. and again on Thursday from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. in the Rone Funeral Service, Vineland.
A funeral Mass will follow at 11 a.m. Thursday from Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament-Church of St. Rose of Lima, 104 Catawba Ave., Newfield. Interment will be private in the Gloucester County Veterans Cemetery.
Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the St. Labre Indian School, Ashland, MT 59004; and the South Jersey Healthcare HospiceCare, P.O. Box 160, Bridgeton NJ 08302.
Arrangements are under the supervision of Rone Funeral Service, 1110 E. Chestnut Ave., Vineland, NJ 08360.
To send online condolences please visit the funeral home website at www.ronefuneralservice.com.