Reunited after 61-years a former army medic looks after ‘comrade’ even though they both suffer from dementia
- Reunited by chance 61-years after serving together in the Korean War
By James Nye
In a touching twist of fate, two veterans of the Korean War, have been reunited by chance in a medical home 61-years after serving together - and one of them can't seem to let go of his duties.
Augie Angerame who served as a medic and Frank Dibela both suffer from advanced dementia but staff became alerted to the behaviour of Angerame when DiBela was admitted, as he would go to his room and gently pat him on the back - almost as if to check he was OK.
Even though the two octogenarians are unable to communicate with the outside world, staff at Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Long Island recognised that they seemed to share a special bond and told their children - who discovered that they used to serve together with the 1st Cavalry in Korea in the 1950s.
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'He would walk around the ward checking up on guys just like a medic would,' said John Angerame, Augie's son.
Describing how he would check on DiBella in particular and how DiBella seemed to react positively to this Angerame began to look into what made Dibella special.
'I was looking for something. I had this feeling,' said Angerame.
He discovered old war photographs on DiBella's bulletin board and began to notice the same buildings and same backgrounds as his father's old war pictures.
'And I stepped outside for a few minutes and on the door it said Frank DiBella,' said Angerame.
'And then it just flashed.'
Before his illness took hold his father had often spoken of a Frank DiBella in his unit who was highly regarded by the soldiers and medics who served on the front lines.
'He said Frank had a penchant for getting steaks and food that they normally don't eat,' said Angerame.
Angerame and DiBella originally served at Fort Bliss in Texas and trained for the 68th Anti-aircraft Battalion which was created for the World War II.
Augie Angerame was injured during the Battle of the Bowling Alley of August 12-25th 1950.
'He got hit in both knees,' said Angerame.
'He was the medic, so he just treated himself and went on helping the wounded because he didn’t want to leave the field. That’s why he never reported it and never got the Purple Heart.'
Frank DiBella entered the care earlier this year and it was initially a mystery to his daughter Mary Rose Monroe who his frequent visitor was.
'And I was like, 'What's this man doing?' recalled Frank's daughter, Mary Rose Monroe. 'He'd rub his back and then he'd walk away.'
However, once staff realised they were old war buddies they moved them into the same room.
'Sixty years later," John said, 'Still checking on his guys.'
'They reach for each other,' said Mary Rose.