Each Memorial Day, I am compelled to pay tribute to members of my family who have given so much and sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms and to protect this great country of ours. All these family members were born and lived in New Mexico, two were born in Chacon, New Mexico and the rest born and raised and educated in Albuquerque.
One gave the ultimate sacrifice during time of war.
My father Paul Dinelli and my Uncle Pete Dinelli, for whom I was named after, both served in the US Army during World War II when the United States went to war with Italy, Germany and Japan.
My father and uncle were first generation born Americans and the sons of Italian immigrants who settled in Albuquerque in the year 1900 to live the American dream. My Uncle Pete Dinelli was killed in action when he stepped on a land mine. My father Paul Dinelli was a disabled American Veteran when he returned to Albuquerque after World War II and was honorably discharged because of a service connected disability. Years after the war, my father met my mother Rose Fresques at the Alvarado Hotel where she had worked as a Harvey girl. After the couple married, my father went to barber school in Denver, Colorado, returned to Albuquerque and opened “Paul’s Barber Shop” which was located at Third and Lomas.
My uncles Fred Fresques and Alex Fresques, my mother’s two brothers, also served in World War II. My Uncle Alex Fresques served in England and was in the Air Force.
My uncle Fred Fresques saw extensive action in the US Army infantry during World War II and was awarded 2 Bronze Star medals and a purple heart for his service. The Bronze Star medal is awarded to individuals who, while serving with the Armed Forces of the United States in combat, distinguish themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement, or by meritorious service. The purple heart is awarded for being injured in combat or dying in combat. My Uncle Fred would never talk to anyone about what he saw. After the war, my Uncle Fred returned to Albuquerque and raised a family in Barelas. Over many years, my Uncle Fred was active in the Barelas Community Center and was a trainer for the “Golden Gloves” competition teaching young adults the sport of boxing.
My father-in-law, George W. Case, who passed away at the age 93, served in the United States Navy during World War II and saw action while serving on a destroyer. My father-in-law George Case was so proud of his service that he wore a World War II Veterans cap every day the last few years of his life. After the war, my father-in-law George Case returned to Albuquerque was married to my mother-in-law Laurel Del Castillo for 50 years, raised a family of 4 girls. George eventually owned a liquor store for a few years and then went on to build, own and operate the Old Town Car wash, which still stands today, and he was in the car wash industry for a number of years.
My nephew Dante Dinelli, was born and raised in Albuquerque and joined the service a few years after graduating from Cibola High School. Dante served 20 + years in the US Navy, retired as a Chief Petty Officer and worked in a civilian capacity for the Navy.
My two nephews, Matthew Barnes and Brandon Barnes, the sons of my younger sister, Pauline were born and raised in Albuquerque and went to Bosque Prep. My nephew Brandon Barnes is a graduate of the US Naval Academy. My nephew Major Matthew Barnes graduated from UNM with honors and served a tour in Afghanistan. Both Mathew and Brandon are Majors in the United States Marine Corps and both continue to climb the promotion ladder in the Marine Corps.
To all the wonderful and courageous men and women who have served and continue to serve our country to protect and secure the promise of freedom and the ideals upon which the United States was founded upon, and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, I thank you for your service to our Country.
Your service and sacrifices to this great country of ours will never be forgotten. God bless you all and God Bless this great country of ours!