One Marine's Take from War

By Zebrowski, Carl | America in WWII, October-November 2016 | Go to article overview

One Marine's Take from War


Zebrowski, Carl, America in WWII


NICK CARIELLO IS USED TO HAVING THE SHRAPNEL in his legs get infected, if one can ever get used to such a thing. Now 93 years old, he's had bits of cast iron inside him for more than 70 years since a grenade found him on Tarawa. Every once in a while he needs to go under the knife to have pieces removed. The problem can flare up at any time. Just a few months back, he had to get some taken out, and a patch of his WWII US Marine Corps uniform came along with one of the buried metal shards.

This isn't the worst that has happened to Nick since surviving some of the bloodiest fights of World War II. About a dozen years ago, an infection almost killed him, an infection caused by his pacemaker. After three hospital stays in Tucson, Arizona, where he lived at the time, doctors gave up on curing him. Reluctantly, Nick agreed to go home on hospice care. "I spent dreary hours contemplating my fate and pondering the mysteries of life and finality," he wrote to me.

But his son Neal was not convinced. Neal "stubbornly refused to surrender his father to Mr. Death," Nick wrote. Neal, the now-retired head of pathology and toxicology at a pharmaceutical giant, scrambled to pull together his dad's medical records and returned to his own home in Durham, North Carolina, to present the case to doctors at Duke Medical Center. They agreed to take Nick as their patient. Nick cuts to the story's chase: "So, voila, here I am writing to you instead of being long gone. …

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