Two U.S. Marine Corps combat veterans of the legendary Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II are being honored Tuesday at the state Capitol.
Tom Smith and Sal Famularo are each being inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame by state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville. The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. at the Legislative Office Building.
Smith was wounded four times during battles in the Pacific Theater. Famularo also served in several island battles and was wounded on Iwo Jima, one of the most famous and bitterly fought battles of the war. He later was in education for 42 years, earning a doctorate in education and becoming a junior high school principal.
“As members of that ‘Greatest Generation’ of World War II veterans, Dr. Tom Smith and Sal Famularo are real American heroes who answered their nation’s call to service and whose efforts together with other members of that generation saved the world and the American way of life from falling into darkness,” Tedisco said.
The New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame was established in 2005 to honor individual veterans of the nation’s wars.
Smith served between 1943 and 1945, participating in combat on Saipan, Tinian, the Marshall Islands and Iwo Jima. He was wounded four times, but not on Iwo Jima. He was part of a short-lived elite unit called the Raiders that operated behind enemy lines. He was present at both U.S. flag raisings, including the one that became the iconic photograph of World War II.
“I landed on the first day and left on the last day and I didn’t get a scratch,” said Smith, who is 92.
Famularo, 91, fought as a rifleman on Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima, and sustained his wound on Iwo Jima, when a spray of machine gun fire hit him when he was defending an airstrip where a B-29 had made an emergency landing. He fell into an indentation in the ground, and heard an American tank coming right at him from behind. “On a bullhorn he told me to lie perfectly still. I was thinking this guy in nuts, but he went over me, and there’s an escape hatch in the bottom of the tank, and they lifted me in.”
Smith and Famularo didn’t know each other, even though both were in the Fourth Marine Division, Second Battalion. They served in different companies, though, and didn’t meet until both settled in Glenville years after the war.
At the same ceremony, state Sen. Kathleen Marchione, R-Halfmoon, will induct Army Sgt. Derek J. Farley of Nassau, Rensselaer County, an explosive ordinance team leader who was killed while disarming a bomb in western Afghanistan on Aug. 17, 2010. He had previously served in combat in Iraq.