• paterson
  • Passaic
  • July 17, 1943
  • May 15, 1968
  • Army
  • RANK:
  • SGT
  • KIA
  • South Vietnam


Joseph H. Picarelli was born on July 17, 1943. His home of record is Paterson, NJ.

Picarelli served in the US Army and attained the rank of Sergeant (SGT). He was assigned to A Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, 198th Infantry Brigade.

Picarelli was killed in action on May 15, 1968. His father, sister, and wife, Loretta, survived him.

Picarelli was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Silver Star.

His Silver Star citation reads:
The President of the United States takes Pride in presenting the Silver Star Medal to Joseph H. Picarelli (US52687949), Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army for gallantry in action against a hostile force on 28 April 1968 in the Republic of Vietnam. Specialist Fourth Picarelli distinguished himself while serving as a radio-telephone operator for the company commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. On that date, his company had set up a night position when they suddenly came under intense small arms fire from an enemy force of undetermined size. While his company commander was busy on the company frequency, Specialist Picarelli established communications with battalion headquarters and quickly requested gunships for defense of the company perimeter. As the gunships arrived on station, they were unable to determine the company's perimeter due to the total darkness and density of the vegetation. Upon hearing the problem from the gunships, Specialist Picarelli, with disregard for his own safety, took a strobe light and moved about the company's perimeter, marking the friendly positions. Although he was wounded by shrapnel from an enemy hand grenade, he courageously continued to expose himself to the hostile fire as he marked his perimeter until the enemy force was repelled and forced to retreat. Specialist Fourth Class Picarelli's unquestionable valor while in close combat with a numerically superior enemy force and his avid devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Americal Division, and the United States Army.

I knew Joe Picarelli as a small boy when we both lived in Paterson, NJ. My family lived at 93 Holsman Street and Joe lived with his mother and grandparents in an apartment on North Main Street. We all attended P.S. 12, or twelvsies, as it was known in the neighborhood. Joe was about three years younger than I was. Every day Joe came to play and stayed for the whole day.

He was very poor but he was a happy boy. None of us really knew that we were poor because we all lived under the same circumstances. Joe liked playing Little League baseball, attending school, going to the First Presbyterian Church Sunday school and spending time with me, my brother and my little sister. All who knew him would fondly remember him.

Joe was very poor, small, bright-eyed, funny and full of life. He was Bobby and Davey and Its' friend.

He is still remembered calling out, "Bobby-y-y, Davey-y-y," in his small plaintive way. He came early every morning ready to play. He mostly stayed all day and where Bobby and Davey went, Joey went. He became part of our family.

Later, when Bobby and Davey moved to another town, Joey somehow found them and would turn up in the morning sleeping in their father's car. Bobby, Davey, Its and our mother and father understood that Joey needed a family. For a long time, our family was his family. It was much more than friendship. Bobby and Davey's mother took care of Joey.

Joey was there for much of Bobby and Davey's childhood. At least it seems that way as Davey looks back and remembers.

Bobby and Davey always played baseball so Joey played too. It was hard to get him out, because he was so small that he had almost no strike zone. Ha! Ha!

Joey's mother died one day, so he lived with his Grandma and Grandpa. Bobby and Davey grew up and went separate ways and contact with Joey was lost. He was fondly remembered.

Many years later a young widow searched out and called Bobby and Davey's mother. We learned that Joey had married, joined the Army and had been sent to a foreign land. He had not come home.

At age twenty-one, Joey had given up his life for his country in a far away, foreign, Asian country. He is fondly remembered by all who knew him.

The Bobby and Davey in the story are me and my brother, and "Its" is my little sister. We all remember Joe and as long as we are here he will not be forgotten.

Written by Arthur D. Wardle (Davey), Friend

The following is an excerpt from The Record dated Monday, January 29, 1973:
Spec. Joseph Picarelli received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam. He was raised in Paterson and planned to open a liquor store when he was discharged from the service. In 1968, he was killed in action. He was 24. His wife and father survived him.

Sources: Arthur Wardle, The Record, various websites and NJVVMF.


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