SHARON SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Lawrence Valetutto was born in 1922, and living in this world for a century has taught him much about its meaning. Looking back on World War II, his recollection of his time spent in the Pacific Theatre is vivid. However, what he recalls most are memories with people he loves.
Warm smiles are easy to wear for Valetutto, but medals? He said he doesn’t put much stock in those. “I’m not into self-aggrandizement. It’s not in my nature,” he said.
His story of enlistment in the Army is straightforward, just like him “The war broke out and I volunteered,” Valetutto said. At only 20, he became a technician in the 25th Signal Company in 1942. He went on to be a part of the Tropical Lightning Division under General Douglas MacArthur.
On the ground of the Pacific Theatre, he sent messages to the front lines, warning them about enemy planes. The generator’s sound was loud enough for those enemies to hear, so his unit was often on the run after sending out a message.
When it came to the war, Valetutto said he blamed the men in charge, never the civilian people who happen to be on the other side of enemy lines. He also spent time in Japan as part of the Army occupation of the country.
“The people there are wonderful people; it’s the rulers,” Valetutto said. “[Hirohito, the emperor of Japan] was supposed to be a god, and the thing that General MacArthur said is that ‘he’s no longer a god,’ and he made it stick,” Valetutto said.
Valetutto added that it saddens him that someone is still trying to rule the world to this day. When asked how he felt about his time in the service, the answer was bittersweet. “I wish I didn’t have to do it. I wish the world was a better place, but it’s a continuous fight between good and evil,” he said. “And I guess why the good Lord does that is for us to learn to love, that’s it.”
A fond memory he took with him from his time overseas was a bolt of white Japanese silk. He presented the gift to his soon-to-be bride for a wedding dress. During his interview, Valetutto pointed to a wedding portrait hanging high in his living room, “and that’s the dress.”
Although his wife passed away at only 45 years old, Valetutto spoke of her often. He said the name Laura Claire Mosko like poetry, adding that their love was his most significant endeavor in life. He told News10’s Stephanie Rivas that living a good and happy life isn’t as complicated as we all make it out to be. “It’s so simple in life,” Valetutto shrugged. “Take the initiative to love one another.”
The pair had plenty of children, grandkids, and great-grandkids. Many joined his community in Schoharie County to make a big splash on the weekend of Valetutto’s 100th birthday. A parade was organized by American Legion Post 1269. The Commander of the post, Paul Todd, coordinated officials and family members to attend a celebration afterward at the Elks Lodge in his honor.
Sharon Town Supervisor Sandra Manko presented a proclamation making March 18, 2022 “Lawrence Valetutto Day.” Assemblyman Chris Tague also presented recognition for his service. During the procession, multiple fire departments and police departments blared their sirens, with Cobleskill’s fire truck displaying a large American flag.
Although he’s one for the simpler things in life, Valetutto enjoyed his parade and party on March 19, while wearing his signature broad smile. “Happiness is seeing with your heart, doing with your heart, and living with your heart,” he wrote in his self-published book, “God is Love,” available on Amazon.