Senator Witkos Names William Gimignani Veteran of the Month

January 4, 2016

Hartford – State Senator Kevin Witkos (R-8) named William (Bill) Gimignani the first “Veteran of the Month” of 2016. Gimignani, a Canton resident who was born in Torrington and grew up in Wethersfield, served in the U.S. Marine Corps in WWII and is a survivor of the Battle of Iwo Jima.

“I am honored to recognize Bill this January and help share his story with the world,” said Senator Witkos, who interviewed Bill for his monthly ‘Veterans Corner’ show available on YouTube and aired on Simsbury Community Television. “Bill is a piece of living history. He survived some of the most deadly fighting of World War II. His bravery and his dedication to our nation played an integral role in not only winning a key battle, but in shaping the future of our nation and protecting the American way of life for many generations to come. He is a national hero, and we are lucky to have him as part of our local community.”

Gimignani tried to enlist in the Marines at age 17 but was turned away. His desire to serve was fulfilled when he was eventually drafted at age 18 and allowed to choose where he would serve. He selected the U.S. Marine Corps and began a journey that would take him around the world defending his country.

His service included time in U.S. training facilities at Parris Island and Camp Pendleton, time in Hawaii as well as his service in Japan, including Iwo Jima, Nagasaki Sasebo and Kyushu Japan.

Gimignani fought in the 5th Marine Division in the battle of Iwo Jima, a five-week American invasion to capture the entire island including multiple Japanese-controlled airfields. He remembers the challenges of working as an infantryman in foreign terrain in which Japanese forces stored weapons and equipment in underground tunnels and bunkers. Marines had to use flamethrowers to clear the tunnels and faced significant challenges to secure the island.

Gimignani recalled one terrible attack that blew up the ammunition dump he was working near. A group of Japanese came out from an underground bunker to ignite the attack which resulted in an explosion that severely damaged Gimignani’s hearing; but he survived.

The casualties in Iwo Jima totaled tens of thousands, and included the deaths of 100 Connecticut men, Gimignani recalled.

“I was lucky,” Gimignani said about his time in the dangerous warzone. Despite the losses, despite the suffering, Gimignani still says he has no regrets about being in the service and defending his nation.

“That in and of itself speaks volumes,” said Witkos.

After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in April 1946, Gimignani returned home to Wethersfield, completed his schooling and in 1947 took a job as a corrections officer. He spent 37 years with the Connecticut Corrections Department in Cheshire and rose to the rank of Deputy Warden. He also developed and managed the first training program for correction officers. He currently resides in Canton.

Gimignani’s full story, photos and a video interview can be found on senatorwitkos.com and at the following direct link: http://ctsenaterepublicans.com/2016/01/veteran-of-the-month-william-edward-gimignani/

Senator Witkos’ “Veteran of the Month” program features the stories of local veterans each month through text and video. Each story highlights the veteran’s unique experiences and acts of service. To nominate a local veteran to be a “Veteran of the Month” please contact Christopher F. Diorio at the CT Senate Republican Office by calling (860) 240-8801 or emailing Chris.Diorio@cga.ct.gov.