AUDUBON, NJ (WTXF) - A combat hero is honored in his home town. 90-year old Joseph Pauro is a World War II Navy veteran who lived to tell the harrowing details of his service to our country.
"A veteran who served the way you did honorably, thank you for your service,” said an official presenting to Pauro.
Wednesday evening Camden County officials honored Pauro during a town meeting presenting him with several veterans special recognition awards...medals and a congressional record detailing his life and service. It was an emotional moment witnessed by his wife, son and other family.
"I appreciate everything that everybody did especially the V-A. The V-A has come a long way," he said.
After being honored Pauro spoke about the emotional day his ship the S.S. Henry Knox was torpedoed. He was badly burned and left stranded at sea more than 14 hours floating in a tire without a life vest as his ship sank.
"I was all alone in the ocean. We were about 250 miles from land in a vast ocean, the Indian Ocean. The sharks are terrible in there," he said.
"The saddest part about it is that I knew I got off the ship but a lot of guys didn't make it. We lost 35 out 68 men."
Still Pauro eventually served on three other ships and faced death head on again.
"I got sunk again in the Philippine Islands of course we were in a big air battle then. Ships were being sunk left and right," he recalled.
Pauro told the crowd with all he's been through he still loved the sea and being a Navy man. He says because of his faith in God he always knew he'd make it home.
"I call it my guardian angel. Everybody has a guardian angel whether they know it or not."
His wife Annie watched proudly and says she's thankful he lived to receive the recognition.
"Because there are many men who still don't talk about what they've been through and they need to talk and tell the world what it’s like to be in war. So we don't have more wars," she said.
In his honor officials also proclaimed today “Joseph Pauro Day” in Audubon.