TAYLORS—Tony Scachetti thought he was going to Prince of Peace Church one recent Sunday afternoon to answer Boy Scouts’ questions about his service during World War II. Scachetti was the only one who didn’t know the truth.
The 96-year-old was actually invited to the church that he helped found to be honored by the Boy Scouts and fellow parishioners for his military service during World War II. In front of around 100 guests of all ages, Scachetti was presented with, and wrapped in, a Quilt of Valor.
Since its inception in 2003, the Quilts of Valor Foundation has given more than 188,000 quilts to former members of the military. The first recipients were veterans of recent Middle East wars, then the program was expanded to include older veterans such as Scachetti.
He joined the National Guard almost two years before the U.S. became involved in World War II, to help earn money to support his young family, it was revealed during the June 10 ceremony.
Scachetti would eventually serve overseas, and was part of the 4th Infantry Division that landed on Utah Beach on D-Day, eventually helping bring to an end the war in Europe. During his service, Scachetti received three Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars for heroism in battle.
And on June 10, he received a Quilt of Valor, which is described as “the highest award a civilian can bestow on a veteran or current member of the military,” during a presentation by Boy Scout Troop 925, which was chartered at Prince of Peace.
In presenting the quilt, Ken Hinkle, Upstate coordinator of South Carolina Quilts of Valor Foundation, talked about Scachetti’s military service, and his humility.
“In a newspaper article, (Scachetti) said, ‘To me, the ones that are heroes are the ones that died, not us guys that made it. They’re the ones who should be eulogized — not us guys, decrepit, walking around.’” Hinkle recounted. “To me, Tony hasn’t just been ‘walking around’; this man has been able to teach his whole life, to set an example for everybody. I’m honored to award him this Quilt of Valor.”
Hinkle also presented Scachetti with a certificate that reads, in part: “the Quilts of Valor Foundation wishes to recognize you for your service to our nation. We consider it a privilege to honor you, though we may never know the extent of your sacrifice and service.”
The patriotically themed quilt, which was designed by Prince of Peace parishioner Pat Hodur, was then ceremoniously wrapped loosely around Scachetti by his daughter, Nancy Humphreys, and her son, Brian Cash.
Many in the audience said they have known Scachetti for decades. Prince of Peace parishioner Ron Rossi Sr. said he has known Scachetti since the church’s founding in the mid-1970s.
“Tony is what I would call God’s delegate here on Earth,” Rossi said. “Tony, with his (late wife) Florence and their two daughters, he’s been a very dedicated, very strong family man, a very strong Roman Catholic, and full of peace and love.
And it’s amazing that here’s a guy who was there on June 6 (D-Day) when they landed. He’s just phenomenal. … I feel very blessed to be able to say that Tony Scachetti is a very good friend of mine,” Rossi continued.
Before his blessing, Father Christopher Smith, pastor of Prince of Peace, described Scachetti’s special place within the church.
“When I think about all the bright stars in the firmament of our parish, I really do think it’s not an overstatement at all to say that the brightest star in that firmament is this young man right here,” he said, indicating Scachetti: “A tremendous example of our Catholic faith, of love for God before country.”
Scoutmaster Marty Yigdall said his troop worked hard to ensure that Scachetti was unaware of the event’s true purpose. Indeed, it was around 10 minutes into the ceremony that Yigdall, as master of ceremonies, let the guest of honor in on the secret.
“We’re honoring Tony for his years of service in the Army,” Yigdall said prior to the event. “Our mission was to get Tony here without him knowing why he was coming here, so we got him here to answer questions from the Scouts.”
In the end, Scachetti was able to carry out his original mission for the day as he fielded questions from Boy Scout members and leaders. When asked why he joined the Army, Scachetti replied, “to serve my country — it’s as simple as that.”
When a Scout leader asked him what role his faith played during his military service, Scachetti said “it was with me from the beginning to the end. I relied on the Blessed Mother — she’s the one that brought me through.”
Miscellany/John C. Stevenson: World War II veteran Tony Scachetti speaks to his daughter, Nancy Humphreys, and grandson, Brian Cash, as he receives a Quilt of Valor during a ceremony June 10 at Prince of Peace Church in Taylors.