MICHAEL J CAPORALE

MICHAEL J CAPORALE - PFC

  • HOMETOWN:
  • south hackensack
  • COUNTY:
  • Bergen
  • DATE OF BIRTH:
  • November 25, 1948
  • DATE OF CASUALTY:
  • April 19, 1968
  • BRANCH OF SERVICE:
  • Marines
  • RANK:
  • PFC
  • STATUS:
  • KIA
  • COUNTRY:
  • South Vietnam

Biography


Michael J. Caporale was born on November 25, 1948.  His home of record is South Hackensack, NJ.  He had one brother, Richard, and two sisters, Linda and Susan. In 1966, he graduated from Bergen County Vocational and Technical High School in Hackensack, NJ.  His interests included cars, music and movies.

He served in the US Marine Corps and attained the rank of Private First Class (PFC).

Caporale was killed in action on April 19, 1968.

Michael Caporale stood about 5'9" tall, had jet-black hair, dark eyes and was never without his big warm smile.  He liked to be called "Mick" or "Mickey" and disliked the way some people would mistakenly pronounce the "e" at the end of his last name.

I don't know when I first met him; I was very young and South Hackensack was still very small with lots of vacant fields and farms.  Everyone knew everyone back then, but I was best friends with Mickey and his little brother, Rickey.  I spent much more time with them in their home than I did in my own.

Mickey's mother died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage when he was in the third grade, and he was forced to care for his brother and two very small sisters, Susan and Linda.  About two years later his father, Jack, had his paramour, Mary Anne Guhl, and her two daughters, Linda and Jo-Anne, move in with the family.  Mickey was never really very comfortable with that situation; after all, an arrangement like that in that era was the talk of the town.

Mickey had lots of friends.  Never into sports, he spent most of his free time building very detailed, and sometimes award winning model cars, and he loved auto-racing magazines.  He fooled around with a used guitar, but honestly didn't sing very well.  He sang popular songs from the "Dave Clark Five" and "Paul Revere and the Raiders".

He was never a bully and would stick up, and fight for, the small and weak; but he sometimes would display a "tough-guy" image by sticking an unlit cigarette on his ear, pulling the collar of his denim jacket up high, and sitting in the last row of seats on the bus home from school.  He talked and acted tough sometimes, but looking back, it was just to get attention; something he never really got enough of. 

South Hackensack had no high school.  After graduation from 8th grade at South Hackensack's Memorial School, students will usually go on to attend Hackensack High, but Mickey's love for cars made him choose Bergen County Vocational & Technical High School.

At Bergen Tech he studied auto mechanics, welding and small engine repairs.  His mechanical aptitude and skill got him a part-time job repairing cars at a Sunoco service station, Sam's Sunoco, on Route 17 North in Hasbrouck Heights and he would also fix cars for our neighbors.  Mickey could fix anything.  He fixed junk cars and even raced a few of them at a drag strip, "Island Dragway" on Route 46 out in Great Meadows, NJ.

Mickey loved movies.  "Goldfinger" was his favorite.  He saw it several times.  He knew all the lines and could imitate the lead actor, Sean Connery.

Despite his abundance of friends, Mickey's smile had a deep profound sadness.  He sorely missed his mother who was buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Springfield, VT, her hometown.  He was unhappy sharing his home with his father's paramour and her daughters.  He had great difficulty with many of the basic subjects in school.  He was smart but he just was not a book, classroom and homework person.  Mickey and my mother would have very long private conversations, the contents of which were withheld from me until long after his death.

It has been my opinion that Mickey joined the service to "get away."  Before his enlistment into the Marines, my father encouraged him to join the Navy instead, telling him it would be safer; but Mickey was in his "tough guy" mode and he chose the Marines.

When leaving for boot camp, he gave the keys to his car, a 1957 yellow and white two tone Ford that he nicknamed "Screws Loose," to his brother with a warning not to f*** it up.  "I'll be back and I don't want it dented", he said.  That was the last time I saw and heard of Mickey.

When he returned home, funeral arrangements were handled by Rocciola's Funeral Home on Essex Street in Hackensack, NJ.  The South Hackensack Volunteer Fire Department stood Honor Guard for two nights over his flag draped coffin and he was then buried next to his mother atop a sunny hill in the Catholic Cemetery in Springfield, VT where a bronze plaque marks his grave.  South Hackensack erected a small granite monument in his honor on Phillips Avenue, next to the Veterans Monument just a few blocks from his home, 10 Agar Place.

Written by Alan ten-Hoeve, Friend
February 2006

Sources: Alan ten-Hoeve (friend), newspaper clippings and NJVVMF, VVMF.

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