By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – John Iandoli was 17 when his mother signed papers allowing him to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. That was in 1943. Now 93, he lives independently in his Shrewsbury home, and has had a full and rewarding life.
Born on Aug. 11, 1925, he grew up in Worcester where his family owned Iandoli Supermarkets. He was one of seven brothers, five of whom served in World War II and all came home safely.
Iandoli plans to ride in in this year’s Shrewsbury annual Memorial Day Parade that takes place Monday, May 27, at 9:30 a.m. It will proceed from Town Hall, 100 Maple Ave., toward Main Street and Route 140 and will end at Mountain View Cemetery.
His very good friend and fellow veteran, Art Dobson, picks him up every morning to attend Mass at Saint Mary’s Church before heading over to enjoy time with friends at the Shrewsbury Senior Center.
It was there where Iandoli reminisced about his three years’ service in the Asiatic Pacific Theater from May 1944 to January 1946.
“My mother had to sign me off,” Iandoli remarked because he was so young and hadn’t graduated from high school. “Back then they let you graduate six months ahead of time; they needed the men.”
After training at Parris Island in South Carolina, he traveled to San Diego then by ship to Caledonia.
In September and October of 1944, Iandoli saw heavy combat where hundreds were killed in battle on the island of Peleliu before venturing to Okinawa where served until July of 1945.
From Okinawa he then participated in the occupation of Northern China until January 1946. He was honorably discharged in February shortly thereafter.
Among his commendations are the Bronze Star and the Asiatic Pacific Area Service Ribbon for his participation in the seizure and occupation of Okinawa Gunto during the Ryukyu Islands Operation.
When asked if he stayed in the Marines after the war, Iandoli replied, “Oh no, you know what we wanted to do? We wanted to get the hell out of the military,” but added that the Marines made a man out of him.
He returned stateside to Bainbridge, Maryland and traveled by train to Worcester, where his brothers picked him up at Union Station in February 1946.
He returned to the family business along with his brothers. In addition to the Iandoli Supermarket, the family also owned Honey Farms convenience stores as well as a variety of other businesses.
“I came back on a Friday and went to work on Monday morning,” he remarked. “I worked in the store for 60 or 70 years.”
Iandoli married in 1952. He and his wife Janet, who passed away several years ago, moved to Shrewsbury where they raised 12 children.