Bellavia’s grandfather, a WWII vet, beams with pride as he’s honored with Medal of Honor

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JAMESTOWN, N.Y. (WIVB) – During the ceremonies honoring David Bellavia with the Medal of Honor and his addition into the Hall of Heroes, many people, including the president, have commented on Bellavia’s grandfather. The WWII veteran lives in Jamestown, and has had a huge impact on Bellavia’s life. 

News 4 went to visit Joe Brunacini in the Southern Tier. Inside his home, he likes his clocks set to military time, and recalls his time in the service as if it were yesterday. He remembers the names of every cook, fellow soldier and every official he came into contact with during his service. He served in the U.S. Army between February 1, 1943, and September 27, 1945, and told News 4 of the time he offered food to a prisoner. 

“The guy says, ‘you know you were AWOL,'” he said. “I said, ‘you gotta be kidding haha.'”

Another time he stumbled upon a German family cowering in a basement. 

“The guys would say, ‘throw in a grenade,'” he said. “I said, ‘are you kidding me? No way. What harm could they do?'”

He sat in his home, nearly 75 years after the end of WWII, so proud of his time fighting for his country. It’s also where he sat when he watched his grandson get bestowed with the highest military honor: the Medal of Honor. 

“(I felt) pride… pride,” he said. “I noticed the stoicism about him was impressive.”

Brunacini lost his wife this past January, the two were married for more than 67 years, and have 13 kids together. His daughter Marilyn is David’s mother. 

The family man said he’d tell his kids and grandkids his stories, and remembers David’s interest in them. 

“I hope that I was in some way helpful, in making his tenure in the army fun.”

Brunacini lives modestly. There isn’t much clutter found in his home, but one item will forever stay in the second to top drawer of his dresser: the newspaper that shows the moment his grandson received the Medal of Honor. 

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