Two Vietnam veterans who share their experiences with high school students are among the four to be inducted into the Belleville Wall of Recognition Oct. 19 at 1:30 pm in the auditorium of Belleville High School, 100 Passaic Ave. They will also be the guests of honor at the Belleville Education Foundation Gala at the Chandelier, 340 Franklin Ave., later that night.
Previously, Dr. Cyrus Amato and Thomas Apicella were profiled. Now, it’s time to tell the stories of Frank Mascitelli and Gary Mascitelli.
Frank Mascitelli, BHS Class of ‘66, was drafted into the Army, beginning a tour of duty in Vietnam in July 1967. Mascitelli earned many decorations as a soldier, including three Purple Hearts and two Army commendation medals. One of those was awarded when Mascitelli assisted comrades wounded in combat, and another for an incident where he placed himself in the path of enemy fire to stop Vietcong soldiers from surrounding Mascitelli’s fellow soldiers.
Frank talked about how he thought his life was boring, but how he “got his wish” for more exciting times in the war.
As for speaking to students, he said, “It does as much for me as it does for them.”
His brother Gary, Class of ‘67 and also a Vietnam veteran, went two years later, in April 1969 and was similarly a highly decorated soldier. Gary earned three Bronze Stars, the Army Commendation Medal with Valor and the Purple Heart. He talked about serving as point man on dozens of missions with a recon patrol company, taking part in 17 firefights.
“We thought it was our job to serve our country,” Gary said. “I’m very, very proud to be part of the Wall of Recognition. It’s hard to put into words being part of a fraternity with doctors, lawyers and everyone.”
Both brothers said they are glad they decided to speak to Belleville High School students about their battlefield experiences on a regular basis.