Alphonse “Funzi” Iannuzzi preferred keeping war stories of his capture at the Battle of the Bulge out of the spotlight during POW-MIA Recognition Day and, instead, focus on those service men and women from his Carlstadt hometown who didn’t make it home.
“I have all their names,” said Iannuzzi, 87, who was proud to offer tribute to them at a solemn ceremony in Hackensack.
Alphonse “Funzi” Iannuzzi and Vita Trause, a former Carlstadt resident himself, were honored by several elected officials, led by Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan.
They were introduced during the ceremony by Col. Mark A. Piterski of River Vale, a career officer in the New Jersey Army National Guard who has completed two tours of combat in Iraq.
He told the veterans he was honored by their service. Despite having been in battle himself, Piterski told them he’d “never expreienced what you have.”
He also read a proclamation from Gov. Christie, who urged prayers for those service men and women “whom have not been returned to us.”
The Bergen County Sheriff’s Department color guard opened the ceremonies, which included a wreath laying and salutes from various veterans. Flown along with the colors was the familiar bland-and-white POW-MIA flag.
Trause, who’s lived with his wife in Washington Township the past 45 years, was a prisoner in Stalag 7A, a German POW camp, from September, 1944 until May 1945.
Iannuzzi was held in Stalag IVB, then several other prison camps in Germany, between March 1943 and December 1945.
“I can’t imagine the bravery it took for what these men went through,” said Donovan, who gave both service medals and noted that an estimated 90,481 Americans are officially still missing in action.