Colonel Lawrence (Larry) N. Guarino,
Larry, 92 passed away peacefully on August 18, 2014. The real love of his life was Evelyn, whom he met at a church dance and to whom he was married for more than 71 years. Larry received his wings and commission in the U.S Air Force in 1943. During WWII, he saw service in North Africa, Italy (flying Spitfires!-Tex) and China. He was recalled again for the Korean War. He was later assigned to the Philippines, Japan, and Okinawa. Major Guarino was flying combat missions in Southeast Asia in early 1965 when he was shot down and forced to eject over North Vietnam. He was captured and taken as prisoner of war, spending the next 2,801 days in captivity. Colonel Guarino was released on February 12, 1973. He was awarded the nation’s second highest award, the Air Force Cross, also the Distinguished Service Medal, two Silver Stars, a Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Purple Hearts, and more than 50 service medals. Larry later authored A P.O.W.’s STORY: 2801 DAYS IN HANOI about his experience.
In April 2012, your Association returned the plaque to the Juvat Headhunters. Here’s the letter I sent to them:
Greetings, Fellow Headhunters!
Last summer, Colonel Larry Guarino USAF (Retired) called and asked if the Association would safeguard a plaque that he was given by the jocks of the 80th prior to his deployment from Itazuke to Viet Nam. He’d been, briefly, the 80th CO and they gave him the plaque at his going-away party.
“Who is Larry Guarino?” I can hear you asking. Well, he was just a guy who flew Spitfires in the early stages of WWII, later flew with Chennault in the Flying Tigers, was recalled for the Korean War, stayed in and flew F-105’s in the South East Asian War Games- you know where the US won the “Miss Congeniality” and “Most Improved” awards…He was shot down and spent more than 8 years as a POW. 8 years, gentlemen! If you didn’t know him well, he’d never, ever mention that to you. His son, Allan, flew in Viet Nam while his Dad was a prisoner and later Al was a Juvat Headhunter.
This plaque had hung in the Itazuke O Club since about 1950. That means it is about 35 years older than most folks in this room. With Larry’s concurrence, I am returning it to its rightful home. Guard it well from the petty and vindictive thieves of the Other Squadron.
‘What Is Good?”