NORTH PORT — Barbara Thompson was stunned when her friend called and told her that her father’s picture was on the front page of the newspaper.
Her father, Joseph Gallucio, was in the U.S. Army during World War II and was among the 73,000 U.S. troops who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944.
But he had gathered no fame — nor did he seek any — for his role in D-Day.
Yet, there he was on the front page of the June 3 edition of the Sun, his picture over a D-Day story titled “24 hours that changed the world.”
He is shown struggling to reach the beach, aided by his fellow soldiers.
The picture, distributed by the Associated Press is not well known in the U.S., but is featured in the Normandy Museum in France.
Her nephews had discovered the photo last year while visiting Normandy. They brought a laminated copy of it back to Barbara.
The museum listed the location as Omaha Beach, but it was actually on Utah Beach, 30 miles to the west.
“He is struggling in the picture, but he has a lot of equipment on him and he was never a good swimmer,” Thompson said. “He was wounded in France, but not until months later, when he was shot in the hand.”
Gallucio returned home after being wounded and lived a quiet life as a worker at a paper mill in New Jersey. He retired after suffering a heart attack and Thompson moved him to Venice to be near her. He lived in the Circlewood Complex in Venice.
“He loved Florida. He would often tell me that he would be dead if I hadn’t insisted he move here,” she said.
Thompson described her father as a “gentle soul with strong opinions.”
Dwight Eisenhower called the WWII soldiers our “greatest generation” who “fought and then returned (to the U.S.) and carried on.”
Gallucio fit that description. He had opinions about politics (a Democrat until Reagan was elected) and high school sports, where he followed his two grandsons.
But he seldom discussed the war.
“I went to see ‘Saving Private Ryan’ in 1998 and liked it, so I asked Dad if he wanted to go with me to see it,” she said. “He said, ‘No. I don’t want to relive that.’”
Joseph Gallucio was a member of the Elks and VFW.
He died in 2004. He was 84.