meet joe falconetti

falconetti

By Patricia Cassens, CFRE, CSJA

Joseph “Joe” Falconetti Sr., of Littleton, Colo., loves the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. When Sister Barbara Dreher and I had the pleasure of meeting him at a reception held in Littleton two years ago he couldn’t express it enough.

He is a devout Catholic and a faithful supporter of the Sisters of St. Joseph, who was taught by his mother so long ago that the love of country, church and fellow man was and is so important. Her words have always stayed with him.

“The sisters taught my children, Gerald, Joe Jr., Janet and Judith at St. Francis de Sales (Denver) and I cannot thank them enough for what they did for them.”

Yet we can’t thank Joe enough for what he did for us, our country and our world.

Born in New Jersey in 1924, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces at the age of 19 during World War II. Staff Sgt. Falconetti was a member of the 720th Bomb Squadron, 450th Bomb Group, a tail gunner, flying missions in the African theatre. One particularly dangerous mission was to destroy a heavily defended oil installation in Romania that was supplying German forces. He was aboard a B-24 in 1944 when the plane was struck during the bombing over Romania.

During the mission, the pilot and two others were wounded. That’s when Sgt. Falconetti, who had never flown a plane before (or since) took control of the B-24 Liberator and landed it safely. He and the crew were wounded and the plane badly damaged, but he managed to get everyone to safety.

After everyone was back at the base, he was told he would get a medal and a ride home. He got the ride, home but the medal came 68 years later. On July 6, 2012, Joe was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, which is awarded to members of our military who show extraordinary bravery while fighting in the air.

Always humble, Joe said, “I just wish some of the crew were here, they deserve this more than I do. They’re the ones who taught me how to fly.”And Joe empathizes with today’s war veterans, making a plea to the public to help them return to normal life after serving and witnessing unspeakable atrocities.

“What we have to do for them is teach them how to live in harmony with people. We teach them how to kill, but we don’t teach them how to come home and live with people … they’re not given that chance to become human again.”

After the war, Joe settled in Colorado, married, and he and his wife Dee raised their four children. Dee died in 2002.

Up until recently, Joe attended a weekly meeting of veterans at the V.A. hospital. These days, Joe has become frail and housebound, but he is not forgotten.

The Sisters of St. Joseph thank you, Joe, for your generosity, service and inspiration to us all.


 

Learn More

Click here to learn more about planned giving or contact Patricia R. Cassens, CFRE, Executive Director of Mission Advancement, at 314-678-0329 or e-mail her at pcassens@csjsl.org.

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