Veterans share stories of time in the service at Spring Hills Cherry Hill Assisted Living

Spring Hills honored some of its residents who served the United States military during World War II and the Korean War. The honorees received medals during a special ceremony on Monday.

Spring Hills Cherry Hill Assisted Living resident Maurice Karen, a veteran of the Korean War, shows a certificate of recognition he received for serving in the Army during the Cold War.

There are a number of veterans who call Spring Hills Cherry Hill Assisted Living home. All of them have a unique story.

Ernest Franciotti helped break down aerial photographs for the Army during World War II.

Maurice Karen fought for the Army during the Korean War.

Eugene Venuto worked as a silence communicator for the U.S. Navy during World War II.

All of these men have different stories to tell, but one thing they share is the experience of serving in the United States military.

On Monday, veterans of Spring Hills gathered for a special Veterans medal ceremony. Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn presented either the Camden County Military Service Medal or Korean War Service Medal to five Spring Hills residents.

Cherry Hill Township Councilwoman Melinda Kane reads a certificate to Spring Hills Cherry Hill Assisted Living resident and World War II veteran Eugene Venuto (right) as Mayor Chuck Cahn prepares to present him with a medal during a special ceremony at Spring Hills on Monday.

Venuto has met a number of veterans since moving to Spring Hills and said the veterans share a sense of camaraderie.

“We always had that attachment,” Venuto said. “When we first came here, we always talked every day.”

All of the men honored on Monday were thankful for the recognition they received. Karen felt the recognition was not just for veterans still living, but for those who died in the line of duty. During the Korean War, Karen fought in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. The battle took place in November 1950 and lasted 17 days. About 125,000 Chinese troops attacked about 30,000 UN troops. More than 10,000 soldiers died in the battle.

“The significance of it, to me, is the men that were left there,” Karen said. “I get very emotional when I think about it or talk about it.”

Karen felt it was important for the comrades who fought alongside him in Korea to be remembered. He played a big role in helping to build the Philadelphia Korean War Memorial, which was dedicated in 2002 and features the names of more than 600 servicemen from Philadelphia and the surrounding Pennsylvania suburbs who die during the Korean War. The memorial is located at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.

Franciotti and Venuto both fought in World War II, though they served in different branches. Franciotti enlisted in the Army at the age of 19 and worked with aerial photographs. The photographs would be used to create maps and help pilots identify enemy bombing targets.

Cherry Hill Township Councilwoman Melinda Kane and Mayor Chuck Cahn presented Spring Hills Cherry Hill Assisted Living resident and World War II veteran Ernest Franciotti with a certificate and medal in honor of his service during a special ceremony at Spring Hills on Monday.

“They were having trouble with the photographs the men would take,” Franciotti said. “They got me and I was able to break them down.”

Venuto was enlisted in the Navy during World War II, working with the signal corps. American supply boats during the war tried not to use normal forms of communication such as radio to avoid detection from German U-boats. Silent communication methods instead were used to get ships through enemy waters safely.

Franciotti and Venuto both felt very appreciated during Monday’s ceremony. Franciotti said his time in the service is not something he talks about every day and was happy to have people thank him more than 70 years after leaving the service.

“We don’t go around bragging about it,” Franciotti said. “With them doing this, it’s nice. It makes me feel good.”

Venuto’s entire family came to Monday’s ceremony to see him receive his medal. The ceremony is something he won’t forget.

“It’s very humbling,” Venuto said. “I’m very happy.”