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How Rep. Harder wants to make 100th birthday extra special for WWII vet of CA

Stack of Greeting Cards (sk/Flickr)

Shh, don’t tell Tom Dimperio, but he’s turning 100.

Oh, wait, that’s not the secret. The secret is that Rep. Josh Harder is urging anyone and everyone to surprise the twice-wounded veteran of World War II with birthday cards.

Dimperio lived in Modesto most of his life but now resides in a veterans facility in Menlo Park, the congressman said in a news release. His wife, Genevieve, is still a resident of Modesto.

The veteran’s family reached out to Harder asking for a special way to honor the hero — the recipient of three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star — on his centennial birthday, Aug. 18.

“My great-uncle has been my biggest hero and inspiration,” Jason Rose, Dimperio’s great-nephew, said in Harder’s news release. “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”

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Dimperio was a Ceres resident when he went to Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, in 1942 for Army basic training, the news release said. He was ultimately assigned to the 88th Infantry Division, continued training in North Africa and was sent to Naples, Italy, in 1944.

Dimperio, who rose to the rank of staff sergeant, was injured twice during the war. A mortar shell exploded near him, shooting pieces of shrapnel into him. He was injured a second time in northern Italy, where was struck by Nazi machine gun fire and artillery shrapnel.

“Tom Dimperio is a real-life hero,” Harder said. “He put everything on the line to protect our country during World War II, and he has the scars to prove it.” He called the birthday-card drive a “small but meaningful gesture to honor Tom on his birthday.”

Cards should be addressed to Tom Dimperio, c/o Rep. Josh Harder, 4701 Sisk Road, Suite 202, Modesto, CA 95356. The congressman’s office will deliver them.

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© 2019 The Modesto Bee