East History Club hosts World War II Veteran


Valerie Wang ('24)

East History Club hosts a World War II veteran in the Little Theatre.

On Thursday, March 31, East History Club hosted a WWII veteran in the Little Theater. John Fanello, a veteran of the Pacific Theater in WII, agreed to come and give a talk.

According to Enis Ercan (‘24), the vice president of the history club, “The Veteran was actually the great-grandson of Aidan Hughes, a sophomore at East. I asked around to see if anyone knew a veteran and when Aiden volunteered, we leaped at the opportunity.” The talk was an hour-long, and about 70 people attended.

Over the course of the hour, the audience learned about the Pacific Theater and John Fanello’s role in it. He was a bugler and by the end of the war, he was a second seaman in the navy. He served on a number of bases, including a post-bombed Peal Harbor and the Carolina Islands. Interestingly, he said when he got to Pearl Harbor, he saw the oil lines the bombing left behind. His ship, the USS Prairie, was a destroyer tender. This meant that his ship tended to the Destroyer ships when they needed anything in battle. It also repaired and restored the ships after battles.

Mr. Fenello also talked about how the Kamikaze attacks killed a lot of sailors. The Kamikaze attacks were an Imperial Japanese war strategy where pilots would commit suicide by crashing into enemy warships. The veteran also described how races were treated on military bases. He said that the ship was segregated between white and black sailors. Mr. Fenello also detailed the living conditions while he was in the navy.

Mr. Fenello said, “Compared to the army, we had it made.” After a while, the sailors got used to the food and the overall quality of life at the base. In only a few months, John Fenello will turn 97. This is a reminder that as time marches forward and away from WII, the people involved in it age and pass away. This is not only true for WII, but for many other historical events that happened a while ago. Enis Ercan (‘24), the vice president of the history club stressed the importance of preserving this history.

He said, “It is tremendously important [to preserve history], I can’t stress this enough. People who have gone through and witnessed some of the most important events in our collective and national history are important, and we want to keep it alive and well. Veterans are a great link to the past.”