Rocco Trapani, Korean War Veteran
In honor of Grandparents Day coming up this Sunday, September 9, we meet a veteran who answered the call during the Korean War, and later on the homefront when his family needed him.
These days, you'll often find Rocco Trapani strolling out his backdoor to fish off of his dock on Cypress Black Bayou in Benton, La.
"I always liked the calmness and the thrill of not knowing what's on the end of your line when you get one," Trapani said, as he tossed fish food into the water, attracting a swarm of small brim that he hoped will stir up a bigger catch.
Trapani's other activity in retirement has been grandparenting, along with his wife Donna.
"Great grandson Aiden loves his papaw," Donna beams, looking at a picture on the refrigerator of her husband and the boy headed out for some fishing.
The couple has four great grandchildren to go with four grandchildren. And because of some sad circumstances, the Trapanis took on the huge responsiblity of raising two of their grandchildren.
"They needed stuff. We're retired. We don't get a paycheck every month. And, you know, if we get a big deal, we gotta get more money," Mr. Trapani said of the financial burden.
He retired after 20 years as a civilian air traffic controller at Barksdale Air Force Base, after 20 years in the Air Force, also as an air controller. Trapani saw duty on the front lines of the Korean War, sometimes standing watch in a foxhole. He said there were some scary times.
"When mortars are coming in and you're back there mainly with the artillery, until they need air support," he said.
Trapani made a quick transition from the Air Force to his civilian job at Barksdale. He left his base in Texas on a Friday and reported for duty at Barksdale the following Monday.
"The Air Force done me well. Look at me. Got a house on a lake. I'm 80 years old, and all from the Air Force, nobody else."
So these days he can enjoy his fishing and the great grandkids.
"Sweetest thing you ever saw," he said proudly, looking at a portrait of another youngster named Kelsey. "She's a real jewel."
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