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Phillies help celebrate WWII veteran’s 100th birthday [Video]

EAST VINCENT — At 100 years old, it might be hard to find someone who has been a Phillies fan longer than World War II veteran Paul Trumbetas.

And that loyalty paid off this week when Trumbetas and Barbara, his wife of 60 years, marked his first century of life Tuesday with a celebration at the Southeastern Veterans Center with a visit from the Phillie Phanatic; retired Phillies second baseman Mickey Morandini from the 1993 National League championship team; Phillies broadcaster Tom McCarthy, Phillies Ballgirls and Bob McCormick, representing Toyota and the Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association.

In addition, Morandini presented Trumbetas with a game ball that he will personally deliver to the mound at Citizens Bank Park on May 18 when the Phillies play the Washington Nationals and conduct the team’s annual Salute to Service.

“He is the biggest Phillies fan in the world,” said Trumbetas’ daughter, Denise Selzer. “We just had better cable put in for him so he can watch every game with a better picture. He is over the moon about this.”

Trumbetas was born in the coal regions in Simpson, Lackawanna County, and grew up in Carbondale. The oldest child, after his father’s death he was working as a coal miner and supporting his family when he was drafted in 1943, said Selzer. He served in the Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1946 as an Ariel Engineer with the rank of Private First Class.

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Trumbetas served in the European theater, first in Italy and then the south of France and won three Bronze Stars for transporting wounded soldiers to medical stations. While in Rome, he met Pope Pius who gave him a personal blessing and told him he would not die in the war. Later in the war, a number of his comrades with whom he was usually assigned were killed in a plane crash.

“He won’t talk about that too much,” said Selzer.

Upon his return from the war, Trumbetas, who has five children, settled down in Delaware County working as a welder for the Penn Panel and Box Co. in Collingdale. He and Barbara raised their children in Sharon Hill and he and his wife lived with his son until last August, when they both moved into the Southeast Veterans Center where they are roommates, Selzer said.

According to The National WWII Museum, in 2023 there were still 9,675 World War II veterans living in Pennsylvania, the third most of all states and, of those, 104 of them live in Pennsylvania veterans homes, said Travis Davis, executive director at Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, who was at Tuesday’s celebration wearing a Chase Utley jersey. There are 29 World War II veterans living at the Southeast Veterans Center, he said.

“The Phillies organization really pulled out all the stops for Paul’s birthday,” said Davis.

1993 National League champion Mickey Morandini was on hand Tuesday to present 100-year-old World War II veteran Paul Trumbetas with the game ball he will be asked to bring to the mound to start the May 18 game against the Nationals, and when the Phillies will have their special Salute to Service Day. (Evan Brandt -- MediaNews Group)
1993 National League champion Mickey Morandini was on hand Tuesday, May 7, 2024, to present 100-year-old World War II veteran Paul Trumbetas with the game ball he will be asked to bring to the mound to start the May 18 game against the Nationals, and when the Phillies will have their special Salute to Service Day. (Evan Brandt — MediaNews Group)

Brig. Gen. Terrence L. Koudelka Jr., director, Joint Staff, Joint Force Headquarters, Pennsylvania National Guard, who said he is “truly honored to be part of this celebration,” told Trumbetas that “it’s because of airmen like you that I stand here in the service of my country.”

McCarthy told Trumbetas that “our nation’s survival is due to brave men like yourself.”

Brig. Gen. (Ret) Maureen Weigl, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs deputy adjutant general, also spoke and thanked Trumbetas for his service.

Trumbetas himself called the celebration “wonderful” and his slice of cake to be “excellent” as he headed over to the ice cream station to top it all off.


Source: Berkshire mont

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