Sixty-five-years-old, Bob Bruno spent a year in Vietnam as an air force mechanic. Based in Nha Trang, he never fired a weapon, nor was he ever shot at. In fact, he never even saw anyone hurt. "The base was outside of town, and I never even saw the town. A few times, we went to the beach. The beach was divided into three sections, one for us, the Americans, one for the Australians, and one for the South Vietnamese soldiers." Bob spoke fondly of trading rum to the Australians for their lobsters, and of a Hawaiian buddy who brought back heavily seasoned dried fish, "It was sort of like beef jerky."
Bob is 100% Italian. His grandparents came here from Calabria and Sicily. His wife is Czech, German and Italian. Before leaving Bob, I showed him my Italian ID card, which greatly surprised and pleased him. "Look at this," he yelled as he showed it to his wife. Cathryn was watching TV in the next room.
"I spent two years in Italy, Bob."
The Brunos have never been to their ancestral country.