Not a member? Become one today!
         iBerkshires     Berkshire Chamber     MCLA     City Statistics    
Veteran Spotlight: Army Sgt. Al DiMuzio
By Wayne Soares, Special to iBerkshires
04:35PM / Sunday, April 14, 2024
Print | Email  

BARNSTABLE, Mass. — Al DiMuzio served his country in the Army as a sergeant from 1967 to 1970. 
Born in Newton, he grew up in Framingham, enlisted out of high school and was sent to Fort Jackson, S.C., for basic training.
"I was an air-headed 18-year-old, I had no idea what I wanted to do," he said. "My motivation for volunteering for service came from my family. My grandparents were immigrants, my dad and uncle served in World War II. ...
"It was their teachings that reinforced my desire to serve my country. I thought, my country needs something." 
From Fort Jackson, he was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. 
"It was the next level of training. I learned how to run heavy machinery, it was fun and interesting. I came from a family sand, gravel and concrete business so I was right at home, DiMuzio said."
His first real assignment came at Fort Still, Okla., where he worked as a crane operator. In 1969, at 20 years old, he was deployed to Vietnam and landed in Long Binh in the city of Bien Hoa. 
"Was my first duty station. It was sort of like a global physical experience — hot, humid and it stunk beyond belief with smells you don't recognize. I knew I wasn't home," he said.
I asked him about the holidays and I received this response: "I experienced them but they were so non-consequential. It was connected to my stepping off that plane. This was not home, my family's not here," DiMuzio  said. 
He did share something that was a bright spot for him — care packages. 
"Had an instant connection to my family. They sent all the Italian delicacies — cheese, salami, pepperoni — all the things from home," he recalled. "It connects you to home. Those strings always connect you to family." 
I asked Sgt. DiMuzio if he had a mentor and he replied, "I didn't mentor but I always extended an invitation for friendship ... friendship can be a way of mentoring."
He shared this and labeled it a positive experience. 
"It wasn't 100 percent consistent but I was afforded the opportunity to get to know other people with different religion, beliefs, backgrounds and culture and to be able to embrace that," he said. "The camaraderie and commitment was there all the time ... we'd get mortared and shelled. I had a good connection with my fellow soldiers."
DiMuzio became emotional when he spoke about the dreaded chemical Agent Orange and shared this: "Every Monday morning we had formation. A C-130 would fly over and we'd get drenched and showered with the spray from Agent Orange. This happened once a week. We'd stand there — my eyes would be burning, it was on my face, lips, I breathed it in. They provided no kind of safety equipment. ...
"As a result, I have cardiac issues that persist today. It's my general belief that the 'higher authority' didn't/doesn't believe or trust us when we talked about it." 
How does he feel about the protestors during that time period?
"My first exposure was watching them, I wasn't in yet. I understood when I got deployed, they became a conflict within themselves. My experience was that they had no respect for the military," he said. "When I returned home, I exited off the plane and was walking through the airport and some guy spit right at my feet. This person had no idea of my experience and coming home. My thought was [expletive] you pal. I was more than grateful to be home and confident that I fulfilled my duties. My overall thought was to basically ignore that [expletive]."
Thoughts on being a Vietnam veteran? 
"I took pride in my military service, my duties and what I did. I feel successful at what I did but realize there is no way you could experience that without going through some form of trauma," he said. "It became a deeper reality to me."
He currently resides in Barnstable. Sgt. Al DiMuzio, thank you for your service to our great country and welcome home.
Wayne Soares is the host of the popular new veterans cooking show, "The Mess Hall" that airs Saturdays on NBC's NECN at 9:30 a.m. He also entertains our troops around the globe and is the host and producer of the Vietnam veterans documentary "Silent Dignity – The Chapter That Never Ends." He can be reached at


More Featured Stories is owned and operated by: Boxcar Media 102 Main Sreet, North Adams, MA 01247 -- T. 413-663-3384
© 2011 Boxcar Media LLC - All rights reserved