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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Chapel rededicated to Marine who took enemy fire for Navy chaplain

By Sgt. Christopher Duncan | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | June 23, 2014

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Elizabeth Smith weeps as she listens to her son, Daniel Caruso, share his warm feelings about his father, Sgt. Matthew Caruso, with a congregation of more than 100 Marines, sailors and civilian friends and family during the rededication of the Caruso Chapel, at the School of Infantry-West, here, June 23.

The chapel was initially dedicated to Caruso in 1953 and he was awarded the Silver Star Medal in 1950 for shielding father Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Division (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950.

“He’s been a wonderful son and I’ve been very proud of him,” said Smith. “The ceremony was stirring and it’s such an honor to be here. My husband made a tremendous sacrifice.”

Elizabeth Smith weeps as she listens to her son, Daniel Caruso, share his warm feelings about his father, Sgt. Matthew Caruso, with a congregation of more than 100 Marines, sailors and civilian friends and family during the rededication of the Caruso Chapel, at the School of Infantry-West, here, June 23. The chapel was initially dedicated to Caruso in 1953 and he was awarded the Silver Star Medal in 1950 for shielding father Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Division (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950. “He’s been a wonderful son and I’ve been very proud of him,” said Smith. “The ceremony was stirring and it’s such an honor to be here. My husband made a tremendous sacrifice.” (Photo by Sgt. Christopher Duncan)


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John R. Caruso reminisces about life and service of his brother, Sgt. Matthew Caruso, at the rededication of the Caruso Chapel, at the School of Infantry-West, here, June 23.

The chapel was initially dedicated to Caruso in 1953 and he was awarded the Silver Star Medal in 1950 for shielding father Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Division (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950.
“I remember receiving the telegram and watching my father turn pale as he read it,” said Matthew as his eyes welled with tears. “I was on the burial detail, escorting him home, and a woman who was on the train stopped and said to me ‘Did you know the Marine that was killed?’ I said, ‘Yes, ma’am. He was my brother.’”

John R. Caruso reminisces about life and service of his brother, Sgt. Matthew Caruso, at the rededication of the Caruso Chapel, at the School of Infantry-West, here, June 23. The chapel was initially dedicated to Caruso in 1953 and he was awarded the Silver Star Medal in 1950 for shielding father Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Division (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950. “I remember receiving the telegram and watching my father turn pale as he read it,” said Matthew as his eyes welled with tears. “I was on the burial detail, escorting him home, and a woman who was on the train stopped and said to me ‘Did you know the Marine that was killed?’ I said, ‘Yes, ma’am. He was my brother.’” (Photo by Sgt. Christopher Duncan)


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Elizabeth Smith joins a congregation of more than 100 Marines, Sailors and civilian friends and family in prayer during the rededication of the Caruso Chapel, at the School of Infantry-West, here, June 23.

The chapel was initially dedicated to Caruso in 1953 and he was awarded the Silver Star Medal in 1950 for shielding father Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Division (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950.

“It’s terrific to be here this time since I missed the first one,” said Smith. Smith was unable to travel due to pregnancy during the chapel’s initial dedication. “The ceremony was stirring and it’s such an honor to be here. My husband made a tremendous sacrifice.”

Elizabeth Smith joins a congregation of more than 100 Marines, Sailors and civilian friends and family in prayer during the rededication of the Caruso Chapel, at the School of Infantry-West, here, June 23. The chapel was initially dedicated to Caruso in 1953 and he was awarded the Silver Star Medal in 1950 for shielding father Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Division (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950. “It’s terrific to be here this time since I missed the first one,” said Smith. Smith was unable to travel due to pregnancy during the chapel’s initial dedication. “The ceremony was stirring and it’s such an honor to be here. My husband made a tremendous sacrifice.” (Photo by Sgt. Christopher Duncan)


Photo Details | Download |

Daniel Caruso, retired Marine aviator, weeps while sharing a story and his warm feelings regarding his father, Sgt. Matthew Caruso, with a congregation of more than 100 Marines, sailors and civilian friends and family during the rededication of the Caruso Chapel, at the School of Infantry-West, here, June 23.

The chapel was initially dedicated to Caruso in 1953 and he was awarded the Silver Star Medal in 1950 for shielding father Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Division (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950.

“My earliest childhood memory was that flag draped casket, and I remember my mother holding me and crying,” said Caruso, as he displays his father’s Silver Star Medal which was pinned on Daniel during a ceremony when he was 4 months old. “I don’t remember a thing before that, and if he were here today I would tell my father that ‘I wish I could have had you in mine and mom’s [lives], but you found a higher calling and I’m proud of you.’”

Daniel Caruso, retired Marine aviator, weeps while sharing a story and his warm feelings regarding his father, Sgt. Matthew Caruso, with a congregation of more than 100 Marines, sailors and civilian friends and family during the rededication of the Caruso Chapel, at the School of Infantry-West, here, June 23. The chapel was initially dedicated to Caruso in 1953 and he was awarded the Silver Star Medal in 1950 for shielding father Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Division (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950. “My earliest childhood memory was that flag draped casket, and I remember my mother holding me and crying,” said Caruso, as he displays his father’s Silver Star Medal which was pinned on Daniel during a ceremony when he was 4 months old. “I don’t remember a thing before that, and if he were here today I would tell my father that ‘I wish I could have had you in mine and mom’s [lives], but you found a higher calling and I’m proud of you.’” (Photo by Sgt. Christopher Duncan)


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Charles E. Griffin, retired Navy chaplain, shared his appreciation for the sacrifice Sgt. Matthew Caruso made while saving his uncle, Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Division (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950.

The chapel was initially dedicated to Caruso in 1953 and he was awarded the Silver Star Medal in 1950 for shielding father Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Division (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950.

“I firmly believe that he, Sgt. Caruso, inspired my uncle to be a more Christ-like servant of God,” said Griffin. “The reverence my family has for Sgt. Caruso is matched by the reverence you show for his memory here, and I cannot thank you enough for the invitation to join these proceedings.

Charles E. Griffin, retired Navy chaplain, shared his appreciation for the sacrifice Sgt. Matthew Caruso made while saving his uncle, Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Division (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950. The chapel was initially dedicated to Caruso in 1953 and he was awarded the Silver Star Medal in 1950 for shielding father Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Division (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950. “I firmly believe that he, Sgt. Caruso, inspired my uncle to be a more Christ-like servant of God,” said Griffin. “The reverence my family has for Sgt. Caruso is matched by the reverence you show for his memory here, and I cannot thank you enough for the invitation to join these proceedings. (Photo by Sgt. Christopher Duncan)


Photo Details | Download |

John R. Caruso reminisces about his brother’s life and service after viewing a photo of him, Sgt. Matthew Caruso, at the rededication of the Caruso Chapel, located at the School of Infantry-West, here, June 23.

The chapel was initially dedicated to Caruso in 1953 and he was awarded the Silver Star Medal in 1950 for shielding Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Division (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950.

“There went a father, a husband, a brother, and it affected a lot of people.” John said with tears in his eyes. “He was a good brother, but [this is] something Marines do.”

John R. Caruso reminisces about his brother’s life and service after viewing a photo of him, Sgt. Matthew Caruso, at the rededication of the Caruso Chapel, located at the School of Infantry-West, here, June 23. The chapel was initially dedicated to Caruso in 1953 and he was awarded the Silver Star Medal in 1950 for shielding Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Division (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950. “There went a father, a husband, a brother, and it affected a lot of people.” John said with tears in his eyes. “He was a good brother, but [this is] something Marines do.” (Photo by Sgt. Christopher Duncan)


Photo Details | Download |

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- The Caruso Chapel was rededicated to Sgt. Matthew Caruso, at the School of Infantry-West, here, June 23.

The chapel was initially dedicated to Caruso in 1953 and he was awarded the Silver Star Medal in 1950 for shielding Connie Griffin, a chaplain then assigned to the 7th Marine Regiment (reinforced), from enemy fire with his body during an ambush in the Korean War, Dec. 6, 1950.

Caruso’s brother and the son, whom he never had the opportunity to meet, stood before a congregation of more than 100 Marines, sailors and civilian friends and family members to share fond memories and words of appreciation.

“My earliest childhood memory was that flag draped casket, and I remember my mother holding me and crying,” said Daniel Caruso, a retired Marine aviator, while holding up his father’s Silver Star Medal which was pinned on Daniel during a ceremony when he was 4 months old. “I don’t remember a thing before that, and if he were here today I would tell my father that ‘I wish I could have had you in mine and mom’s [lives], but you found a higher calling and I’m proud of you.’”

Caruso’s brother John wept while recalling the loss he and his family felt when hearing the news of Matthew’s passing.

“I remember receiving the telegram and watching my father turn pale as he read it,” said Matthew as his eyes welled with tears. “I was on the burial detail, escorting him home, and a woman who was on the train stopped and said to me, ‘Did you know the Marine that was killed?’. I said, ‘Yes, ma’am. He was my brother.’”

Caruso is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Smith, who shared her gratefulness to the Navy and Marine Corps for the great appreciation they have shown for the sacrifice he husband made in service to the country.

“It’s terrific to be here this time since I missed the first one,” said Smith. Smith was unable to travel due to pregnancy during the chapel’s initial dedication. “The ceremony was stirring and it’s such an honor to be here. My husband made a tremendous sacrifice.”



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