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Hartland resident rubbed shoulders with Patton

Veteran at Matthews of Hartland Senior Living Center

Nov. 12, 2012

During World War II, the Third Calvary led the march through Europe and, in most cases, preceded Gen. George Patton to battles, villages and through European countries. His troop liberated towns and cities, including Paris, all while seeking to identify German soldiers as heavy artillery followed for the shelling.

Saying he is "lucky to be alive," Tudy Jennaro recalls the 278 days in active combat during WWII as the driver for Capt. Glen Clasen of the Third Calvary. He remembers that Patton was present at numerous battle strategy meetings.

Jennaro said he sat outside the meetings because, although he drove the troop's captain, he was only a private and not allowed inside. At one such secretive meeting, Jennaro was resting in his Jeep, catching up on much-needed sleep, when Patton tapped on his shoulder, and asked whether this was the location for the meeting. "

He held down my shoulder as I was struggling to get to my feet for the required salute, and said to me, 'That's all right, son, don't get up. You rest; you're going to need it." That was one of a dozen times when Jennaro encountered Patton, who came to recognize Jennaro and waved to him when their paths crossed.

Now 93, Jennaro tells this story to middle and high school students, colleagues and acquaintances, friends and family. Co-residents at Matthews of Hartland Senior Living Center have a sense of awe and pride that living in their presence is "a soldier who shook the hand of Patton," according to an email from the center.

Jennaro has donated mementos from WWII to the new Memorial to Veterans at Arrowhead High School. The memorial was created by students and teachers.

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