Kasmer “Kas” Frank Barone was born in South River, N.J., March 5, 1924, and departed this sweet earth Friday, Nov. 16, 2012.
Kas was a first-generation Italian-America born of immigrant parents, Frank and Genevieve Barone. Kas grew up with his two brothers, Anthony and Peter, and sister Rose. Their lives were simple, trying at times, yet rich with love and devotion to family and country.
Kas had a zest for life. He was a risk-taker and not afraid to take on the world. The thought of failure never slowed or derailed him.
On June 3, 1943, Kas entered into active duty with the U.S. Army as a rifleman. As with many of our “Greatest Generation,” he spoke little of the war. Occasionally, the memories of “that hell” would resurrect in his dreams, never to leave him, always there.
Kas served proudly, with honor, dignity and bravery. He fought in the Pacific Theatre, participating in four horrendous battles. He recalled being on a ship rerouted to somewhere “secret.” As they neared their destination, Tokyo Rose cheerfully greeted them over the ship’s loudspeaker. She said that they had prepared for and been waiting for the Americans to arrive.
Kas related that the soldiers watched from the ship and saw an island bombarded from air and sea for days to “soften the landing.” Prior to the bombing, the island was green and lush. After the bombing, nothing stood; it was impossible that even a monkey could have survived.
They got their landing order and boarded the landing craft. As the craft got closer to the beach, they could hear rounds striking the hull of the landing craft. Kas remembered seeing the fear in his comrade’s eyes as the “hits” increased with ferocity and intensity. The soldiers began to crowd to the back of the craft.
When they hit the beach, “hell” was waiting for them. The enemy had dug deep within tunnels. As Tokyo Rose had warned, they were waiting for the Americans.
Kas fought in four major landings: the Marshall Islands, Eniwetok, Saipan and Okinawa. He received two Purple Hearts, one for a flesh wound in the cheek by a sniper on Saipan. His most grievous wounds were on Okinawa during a mortar barrage when he lost five comrades struck by the same mortar. When the fighting ended for Kas, he had lost an eye and his hearing and had numerous shrapnel wounds over his body. It took a year to physically recovery.
Kas received numerous citations and medals: the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, a Pacific Campaign Medal with four stars and eight other medals, including the Silver Star for Valor.
As time went on, Kas would relate more memories of the war, always with sadness in his eye, reverence in his voice, but never anger. He lost many comrades and boyhood friends who did not return. Kas said, “I did what my country asked of me.”
Kas married, and daughters Linda and Donna were born. He started Barone Construction Company in 1954 and successfully maintained the business for 31 years.
On March 10, 1972, Kas married Helen Maguire and adopted her five children, Joseph, Audrey, Mark, Patty and Sean. In 1990, Kas and Helen moved to Venice, where he basked in sunshine for the remainder of his life.
Kas embraced retirement, and there wasn’t enough time in the day for him. He was a quiet yet fierce competitor. He excelled in everything he attempted — golf, bowling, cards — and it was nearly impossible to beat him in billiards.
Kas was a generous man, sometimes to a fault. He chose to trust people and sometimes was taken advantage of. He had an optimistic view of life and was a great storyteller. Your eyes would get bigger and bigger listening to his animated stories.
In spite of his physical and emotional wounds, Kas never complained, and he simply moved on to the next day. Kas survived prostate cancer, two heart attacks and ongoing challenges due to his war wounds. In the end, Father Time caught up to him. He passed away in the comfort of his home with the love of his life, Helen, at his side.
Kasmer Frank Barone is survived by his wife, Helen; brother Peter Barone, Sayreville, N.J.; daughters, Linda Barone, Old Bridge, N.J., and Donna Bodnar, Jackson, N.J.; and stepchildren, Joseph Fahy, Springmills Pa., Mark Fahy, Middletown, N.J., Patty Casazza, Hopewell Junction, N.Y., and Sean Fahy, Bradenton, Fla.; and eight grandchildren.
Rest in peace, Kasmer — you have earned it.
Services: Cremation has taken place. Mr. Barone will be buried at Sarasota National Cemetery.
Contributions: In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Tidewell Hospice, Venice.