WWII veteran Carl Cirocco's tenacity led to exemplary life story
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
PITTSBURGH — Carl Cirocco could have left the military after losing parts of several fingers in a blast while working as a bomb disposal technician for the Army during World War II, according to his children.
But devotion to his fellow soldiers led him back into harm’s way.
“When my dad talked about military service, he didn’t really get into the danger they faced,” said his daughter, Monica Dugan of Maumee, Ohio. “He always stressed the bravery he witnessed and what it meant to save and protect the lives of others.”
Carmel J. “Carl” Cirocco of the North Side died on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. He was 91.
Mr. Cirocco was drafted into the Army after graduating near the top of his class at Allegheny High School. He was tapped to train at the Army’s new Ordnance Bomb Disposal Branch in Aberdeen, Md., and served in the Asia Pacific Theater from February 1943 to June 1945. He left the military with the rank of lieutenant.
Mr. Cirocco is featured in a book chronicling the bomb disposal unit’s exploits during World War II titled “Nine from Aberdeen” by Jeffrey M. Leatherwood.
“Even though my dad lost part of two fingers and had to have his thumb reattached, he asked to be returned to his squad as soon as his injuries healed,” said his son, Alex Cirocco of Venetia, Washington County. “He felt that those were his men and he needed to be with them.”
Mr. Cirocco was injured a second time when he raised his arm to protect his face from shrapnel when a bomb exploded.
“He lost full use of his right arm, but he was lucky that a Filipino doctor was able to sew him back up out in the jungle and keep the wound from getting infected so he didn’t lose it,” Cirocco said.
Mr. Cirocco earned two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star Medal.
After his discharge, Mr. Cirocco worked as a parking lot attendant on the Mon Wharf and eventually was hired by Pittsburgh’s Bureau of Building Inspection.
He rose through the ranks to become chief building inspector before retiring in 1983.
Mr. Cirocco’s penchant for Mario Lanza records, cigars, fedora hats and Bermuda shorts — even during winter — made him a fixture on the North Side. He also was an avid golfer and fisherman.
“Everyone went to my dad for advice because he was known as a very fair and trustworthy person,” Alex Cirocco said. “He went out of his way to help people.”
In addition to his daughter Monica and son Alex, Mr. Cirocco is survived by his wife, Ann; daughters, Patricia Cullinane of Rockford, Ill., Laurita Bergner of Dublin, Calif., and Julie Smith of West View; brother, Joseph Cirocco of Apollo; 10 grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday in Stephen M. Brady Funeral Home, 920 Cedar Ave., North Side. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in St. Peter Roman Catholic Church in the North Side.