It has been just over a year since the passing of Thomas Rizzo, a decorated veteran from World War 2 who served in the Pacific Theater and father of Fort Myers Beach resident Donna Rizzo. Due to his actions over the course of his tour, he received the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with three Bronze Service Stars, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon, the World War 2 Victory Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal.
The Commendation Medal came as a result of his service as a the radio operator of tug LT 20, and his dedication to his duties were made clear to all on December 9th, 1943, when his boat was caught in a large and violent storm at sea. Although suffering from illness, as well as sea sickness brought on by the tumult, he stayed at his post for six hours in to make sure their distress signal was received, and was able to direct a U.S. Navy Destroyer to their position for rescue. He then went on to man the pilot house of the tug in order to send visual messages to the Destroyer, requiring two men to help him maintain his post due to his weakened state.
Thomas also served on a troop ship in the Philippines, where he was stationed when news came of Germany’s surrender.
After the war, he married Eleanor Casabura in December of 1946. Thomas had been a friend of Eleanor’s big brother Joe during the war. Together, Thomas and Eleanor had three children: Donna, and her siblings Thomas and Riv