STORRS, Conn. (WTNH) — Ahead of Memorial Day, three veterans in eastern Connecticut cherished a joyful moment.
If you see Paul Panagrosso around his hometown in North Windham, you might not know his backstory.
“I was with the 106th Division in Europe and I happened to be caught at the Battle of the Bulge, which was one of the biggest battles of the war,” Panagrosso, of North Windham, said. “I got got captured. I was a prisoner of war for about six months until the Americans liberated me and I’m here today talking to you.”
Panagrosso is a part of a group that comes together every Wednesday to pray. The real reason they come together is to support one another and discuss benefits and needs. They call themselves The Windham Region Veterans Coffee House.
Congressman Joe Courtney said that it’s actually a movement across the eastern part of the state where veterans learn about benefits together, as there’s “opportunities that often don’t get communicated.”
Congressman Courtney visited the veteran’s group on Wednesday where he presented three heroes, including Panagrosso, with medals.
“A lot of times, particularly in WWII, when there was a huge massive rush to leave the services, they just signed the papers and took off,” Congressman Courtney said. “Reconstructing their records so they can actually get the medals they’ve earned is very special. It means a lot, not only to the service member, but to their family. It really becomes an heirloom for future generations.”
Panagrosso called the medal ceremony an honor.
“It really is an honor,” Panagrosso said. “I appreciate all they’re doing for the veterans. Myself and all the surviving veterans.”