County commissioners issue a proclamation in his honor
At the tender age of 21, Private Joseph John Cucinotta of Gibbstown found himself in the heat of World War II’s battle of Cassino – a series of four successful Allied assaults against German forces that opened the road to Rome.
A heavy-machine gunner with U.S. Army, Company B, 271st Infantry Regiment, 69th Infantry Division and Company D, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, Cucinotta and other American soldiers were captured by the Nazis during the nearly five-month battle that began in January 1944.
“We were captured in Cassino,” recalled Cucinotta, a prisoner of war for 15 months. “We were treated OK, and we made the best of it.”
Freed toward the end of the war, Cucinotta came home as a corporal to the loving arms of his family.
“I came home after the war was over in Europe in June 1945. My family was glad to see me and happy that I made it home safely,” remembered Cucinotta, who celebrated his 100th birthday with relatives and friends during a party at Gibbstown’s St. Michael’s Club on Feb. 11.
Born on Feb. 8, 1923, Cucinotta received a special proclamation from the Gloucester County Board of Commissioners honoring his centenary and service to the nation.
“My dad is an amazing man, very healthy and still active,” said Cucinotta’s daughter Janet Oliveri, who helped organize the celebration with her sisters, Barb Cucinotta and Donna Young. “He belongs to River Winds and goes to the pool there twice a week.”
Cucinotta credits physical fitness with helping him reach 100.
“The key is to stay active,” he noted. “Like they say, ‘Use it or lose it.’ Our bodies are meant to keep moving. Keep your mind and body active.”
The centenarian was thrilled to celebrate his birthday with the people he loves and cares about.
“In one word, ‘fantastic.’ The party was outstanding and I was so happy to see everyone that came to celebrate with me,” said Cucinotta, who worked for DuPont at the Experimental Station in Carneys Point and Wilmington after the war.
“I retired on April 30, 1981, at the age of 58, with more than 30 years of service,” he observed.
“When he retired, he built my home and my sister’s home,” Oliveri remarked.
“Having served with honor and distinction, Cpl. Cucinotta’s awards and citations include the Combat Infantryman Badge, one of the most coveted awards presented by the United States Army during war time, and the Bronze Star medal, one of the highest medals giving in wartime for meritorious service in ground combat …’” said the commissioners’ proclamation.
“Now, therefore, be it proclaimed that I, Frank J. DiMarco, and on behalf of the 2023 Gloucester County Board of Commissioners, do hereby honor and recognize Joseph J. Cucinotta on celebrating his 100th birthday on Feb. 8, 2023.”