World War II veteran Gus Jannotta is modest about his military service, if not the wounds he accumulated in the European Theater.
"I've got a couple bullets here that don't mean anything," Jannotta told a small crowd gathered at the Presbyterian Home, 810 Louisa St., for cake and punch on Wednesday afternoon. "A lot of people here did the same thing.
"I've got bullet holes all over my sides, my hip, my back," he continued. "I thought they were valuable things you could sell - there's good brass in there. I've got a .30 caliber in my hip, holes in the forearms."
CRAIG S. McKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
State Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, left, reads from a state House citation before presenting it to World War II veteran Gus Janotta.
The celebration marked Jannotta's birthday - he turns 90 on Saturday - and recognized him for the Purple Heart he was awarded in June.
State Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, presented Jannotta a citation from the state House of Representatives. Friends and staff from the Presbyterian Home gave him a framed copy of his Purple Heart certificate along with a grab bag of goodies.
Jannotta's three children appealed for their father's Purple Heart. The medal cites June 6, 1945, as the day he sustained combat injuries in Nancy, France, nearly a month after Germany officially had surrendered.
"It was people sniping you, not military action," Jannotta said. "I got as many (injuries) in Germany as I did in France."
Jannotta was born in Philadelphia in 1922 and joined the Army in 1942. His first overseas action came with the 74th AAA Gun Battalion, an anti-aircraft unit, in North Africa. His unit then saw time in Sardinia, Corsica and the South of France.
In Dec. 1944, the 74th Gun Battalion was disbanded and Jannotta became part of the 370th Engineer Combat Battalion, a 7th Army unit under Gen. George Patton. They participated in campaigns across Central Europe as Allied armies pushed toward Berlin.
Jannotta also said he flew planes before going overseas. He doesn't recall anyone getting the opportunity to specialize too much in one military discipline during World War II.
"I fired anything you can fire," he said. "They put a hunting knife in your hand and say 'you do it that way,' so you do it."
When he was discharged in Nov. 1945, Jannotta was awarded the Good Conduct Medal and the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Service Ribbon with three bronze service stars. He doesn't feel like he ever left the Army.
"I'm still in the Army - I still get Army pay," he said. "All of a sudden you look back and say 'did I do all that?' "
"You don't gain by war," he continued. "Each country loses their own people. I laid 800, 900 people in graves, all friends."
Jannotta never wanted a fuss to be made over his service.
"(This award) belongs to the people here," he said. "Everybody's compatible and sociable and honorable - millions of people did the same job, it was the U.S.A. in action. You, your families, everybody."